North Penn stymies Council Rock North in SOL semifinal

BENSALEM >> Coming on the heels of a four-game win streak by Council Rock North, you could say this was not a typical game for the Lady Indians.

In a Suburban One League (SOL) Tournament semifinal against SOL Continental Conference champ North Penn last Saturday, Feb. 11 at Bensalem, the Rock trailed 15-6 after the first quarter and went a long time – 7 and 1/2 minutes – in the first half without scoring a basket.

“We’re usually a pretty physical team and I don’t think we brought the physicality this time that we did the last time we played them,” said CR North head coach Lou Palkovics.

“We just didn’t play as tough as we usually do; it’s a wakeup call for us.”

North Penn’s defensive play put the Indians in a big hole early and the Knights’ 18-for-19 foul shooting made the climb out impossible, helping the opponent clamp down a 41-27 victory over the Rock.

“Whenever (Rock North) drove, everyone was on help and if they kicked it out, we were getting out on the shooters, identifying who was able to hit the shot,” said the Knights’ Irisa Ye, who helped spearhead the defense up top and led the Knights with 17 points. “We just kinda knew how they were gonna run their offense, so we knew how to play them.”

With the win, North Penn (20-2) advanced to the SOL Championship Monday, Feb. 13 at Souderton, to take on Central Bucks West, a 73-63 winner over Plymouth Whitemarsh.

Some may have expected the Rock to put up more of a fight in the SOL opener. After all, the Indians lost to North Penn by only five points the last time the sides squared off.

However, North (15-7) hit just four shots from the floor in a frustrating first half, as North Penn built an 11-point lead by the break.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well, obviously,” added Palkovics. “Three-for-12 from the foul line. Seventeen turnovers against a team that really doesn’t pressure you – that really hurt us.”

While the Knights came out hot in the first quarter, hitting six of 15 chances from the floor, the truth is neither side shot well in the second quarter. The sides shot an abysmal 2-for-20 from the floor in the a period that saw a combined total of six points scored.

Trailing the Knights 19-8 at the intermission, North closed the gap to seven points in the third quarter and, with the ball in its hands, had a chance to close within five going into the final frame. But a foul called on a 3-point attempt by North Penn senior Sam Carangi just before the third period buzzer gave the opponent three free throws and Carangi made all three, extending the Knights lead to 10, going into the fourth quarter.

“I think our defense was outstanding today. We kept them to eight points in the first half (against) a great Council Rock North team,” the Knights’ Sam Carangi said of the National Conference Champs. “They had 20 points in the first half last time (in a 45-40 NP win) so to keep them to eight was huge.

“We knew they were gonna make a run at us. And we just had to take the run, and keep going.”

North closed the gap with a 5-for-11 shooting performance in the third period, a quarter that saw the opponent shoot 3-for-9 from the floor.

The Indians’ run was fueled by CR North sophomore Dana Bandurick, whose 18 points were a game high. Her seven third-quarter points gave the Indians hope, down 10, but then North Penn was a perfect 12-for-12 from the free-throw-line in the fourth t lock things up.

“North Penn played a really tough defense,” said Bandurick, the only Indian to reach double figures, “and the lane just really closed up. We really couldn’t use our height to our advantage.”

Carangi had a steal and layup then sent the Knights charging into the fourth when she drew a foul on a three-point attempt at the third-quarter buzzer, calmly hitting all three to boost the margin to 10.

Ye hit a pair in the opening moments of the fourth and North Penn was on its way. Carangi (13 points) also banked in a three, sending a smile towards the North Penn bench, as part of an 8-0 run in the first, providing the Knights early separation.

When Rock North did get an open shot, rarely did the Indians get a second one.

Conversely, the Knights got numerous second-, even third-chance shots on offense.

“We stressed that in the pre-game – you gotta box out, we can’t give this team second shots,” said Palkovics. “There were possessions we were giving three or four shots.”

“We need to get better; we need to get more efficient at boxing girls out and helping our big kids.”

The Indians entered the matchup on a four-game win streak, a string that included victories over SOL national Conference rivals Neshaminy, Pennsbury and Truman.

At 15-6 overall, the Rock is listed 11th in the District 1 Class 6A girls basketball power rankings, just below SOL National Conference rival Neshaminy. In the league, the Rock went 11-1 in capturing the SOL National Conference title.

I told the girls, ‘let’s not less this loss hurt the momentum that we built in the last third of the season,” said Palkovics. “What’s more important to us is getting into district playoffs and doing well there and getting to states.”

“This team has a lot of leadership; it has a lot of veterans on the team and we’re still young,” added the coach. “But we’ve got four seniors that have shown great leadership so I like our chances this year.”

The District 1 Class 6A Tournament begins Saturday, Feb. 18. Seeded at number 11, North opens with a battle against No. 22 Cheltenham 6 p.m. at home.

Last year, the Indians stunned No. 5 seed Boyertown in a D-1 playoff opener the lost by five to No. 12 seed Downingtown East. In playbacks, North, which had been seeded 28th in a 32-team field, rebounded with a win over fourth-seeded Mount Saint Joseph’s but lost by the slimmest of margins to No. 17 seed Penn Wood. Editor Steve Sherman contributed to this news piece.

TOP PHOTO: Council Rock North sophomore Dana Bandurick (41) led the Indians with 18 points in Suburban One League Tournament semifinal against North Penn Saturday, Feb. 11 at Bensalem High School. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)

North Penn 41, Council Rock North 27

(Feb. 11, 2017)

Council Rock North 6 2 11 8 – 27

North Penn 15 4 10 12 – 41

COUNCIL ROCK NORTH (15-7) — Becca Margolis 1 0-2 2, Megan Haggerty 0 0-0 0, Dana Bandurick 8 2-8 18, Emily Mackin 2 0-0 4, Mackenzie Tinner 1 0-0 2, Camryn Polinsky 0 0-0 0, Kaelin Mealey 0 0-0 0, Hannah Weiler 0 0-0 0, Olivia Boyle 0 1-2 1; TOTALS — 12 3-12 27.

NORTH PENN (20-2) — Irisa Ye 5 6-6 17, Sam Carangi 3 6-6 13, Jess McKenzie 0 0-0 0, Jess Huber 2 4-5 9, Bri Hewlett 0 2-2 2, Jenny Hulmes 0 0-0 0; TOTALS — 10 18-19 41.

3-POINT GOALS: NP — Carangi, Huber, Ye; CRN — none.

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