CB West shuts down North Penn in 2nd half to win SOL championship

FRANCONIA >> Win the third quarter.

Regardless of how the first half went, when the Central Bucks West girls basketball team exits the locker room after halftime, its goal is to be the better team over the next eight minutes. In Monday night’s Suburban One League championship game against North Penn, the first half didn’t close on a great note for the Bucks.

CB West wasn’t worried about it too much. Then the Bucks won the third quarter by 14 points and they were right where they needed to be.

A sterling second half defensive effort lifted CB West to a 43-35 win over the Knights at Souderton, handing West its second SOL title in the three years the tournament has been played.

“Win the third quarter,” Bucks coach Terry Rakowsky said. “If you take away about 30 seconds of the second quarter right at the end, it went from us up by two to down by two. Our defense in halfcourt today, I thought, was exceptional. We played the way we expect our kids to play defense.”

West won the third 18-4, erasing North Penn’s seven-point halftime advantage and just making life miserable for the Knights when they had the ball. Sophomore Tori Abelson scored seven points for the Bucks, but made a much bigger impact with her defense, totaling six steals, six rebounds and two assists to fill out her line.

It wasn’t just Abelson, as a number of Bucks players provided a spark in the pivotal third quarter. Senior point guard Maggie Rakowsky, who did a tremendous job guarding North Penn’s Sam Carangi, scored six points in the quarter and chipped in two steals. Izzy Treon scored five points and freshman Maddie Burke provided the same number, hitting a corner 3-point shot at the buzzer for a 33-26 lead.

“We just came out more fiery,” Burke said. “We always come out after halftime wanting to get a good start in the third quarter and go out strong. It’s our goal to come out strong and go right after them.”

North Penn led 7-2 with 1:52 left in the first quarter, but five points by Bucks senior Alex Burkauskas, including a buzzer-beater, tied it 7-7 at the end of the frame. North Penn’s offense in general didn’t execute well all game but in the first half, the Knights at least had Irisa Ye.

Ye, a senior guard, scored 12 of her game-high 16 points in the second quarter, getting two steals for breakaway layups and hitting a pair of 3-pointers. North Penn closed the half on a 10-2 run with Ye providing seven of the 10, the other three coming when Jess Huber drew a foul on a 3-point shot and made all three freebies.

CB West held Ye to just two points in the second half and the Knights as a whole played right into what the Bucks wanted. North Penn players drove too far into the lane then looked for a pass, letting West’s active hands create the deflections or outright steals that led to easy points.

“All we talked about was coming over on help because a couple times we reached, talked about boxing out more and spreading the floor on offense,” North Penn coach Maggie deMarteleire said. “None of those things we did and it’s very disappointing.

“(West’s) help defense was a lot better this time than the second time we played them, so you drive and kick and don’t go so deep into the defense. But there were several times we went deep into the defense. We do drills on that and this is just very disappointing.”

Offensively, West is at times prone to holding the ball a little too long and allowing the opponent’s defense to reset and get some rest. In the second half on Monday, they were more fluid, kept the ball moving quicker and helped create easier chances to score.

But the Bucks’ easiest chances came when they forced turnovers.

“That’s the most important thing for us,” Abelson said. “We want to do the little things. Maggie got a charge and that meant everything for us. Getting those steals, we work on that in practice so when we do get them and convert them into offense, it’s huge for us.”

A pair of foul shots by Ye gave the Knights a 26-22 lead with 5:16 left in the third. It was all CB West from there, with the Bucks getting a 3 from Rakowsky followed by a free throw, a put-back by Abelson, then a driving hoop by Burke before the freshman sank the quarter-ending trey.

“It’s West basketball,” Abelson said. “The people that came before set the tone. Getting on the floor for loose balls and leaving it all out there on defense is really important. Coach always tells us that’s what we want to focus on and when we do, good things happen.”

North Penn’s Bri Hewlett dribbles out of Central Bucks West’s double coverage during the Suburban One League championship on Monday, February 13, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Burke extended it to an 18-2 run when she cut to the hoop and scored off a Treon pass to start the fourth quarter.

North Penn started to press with about four minutes left and created enough turnovers to put a scare into the Bucks, cutting the lead down to 38-35 with 1:26 left. After that, the Bucks went 5-of-6 at the foul line over the final 46.1. West sophomore Diane Nicholson also helped things with a steal and a big defensive rebound bookending her two foul shots with 30.8 left.

“Defense leads to offense and our defensive game really helped us win,” Burke said. “We kept our hands up. They have really good shooters on their team like Sam and Huber so we kept our hands up to contest shots and get turnovers.”

Both teams have a first-round bye for the District I tournament.

North Penn will have to regroup and prepare for either Oxford or Spring-Ford in what will be a tough second round matchup .

Abelson said winning was nice, but the Bucks know their work is just beginning.

“It’s all because of that first year and the people who came before us,” Abelson said. “They showed what it means to play West, that we’re going to play hard and we’re going out there working together.”

CB West 43, North Penn 35
Central Bucks West                  7 8 18 10 – 43
North Penn                     7 15 4 9 – 35
Central Bucks West (43): Alex Burkauskas 2 0-0 5, Maddie Burke 5 0-0 11, Tori Abelson 1 5-6 7, Izzy Treon 3 0-0 7, Maggie Rakowsky 3 2-4 9, Diane Nicholson 1 2-2 4. Nonscoring: Abby Spratt, Bailey Tracy, Kaili Carey, Molly Rodebaugh. Totals: 15 9-12 43.
North Penn (35): Irisa Ye 6 2-2 16, Jess Huber 2 3-3 7, Sam Carangi 0 2-2 2, Jess McKenzie 0 2-2  2, Bri Hewlett 3 0-0 8. Nonscoring: Jenny Hulmes, Bri Hewlett. Totals: 11 9-9 35.
3-pointers: CBW – Burke, Burkauskas, Treon, Rakowsy; NP – Ye 2, Hewlett 2.

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