Mount Saint Joseph holds on to upset WC Henderson in District 1-5A quarters

Viki Kneis takes a jump shot for West Chester Henderson against Mount St. Joseph in the District 1 Class 5 A quarterfinals Friday. (Bill Rudick — Digital First Media)

WEST CHESTER >> As time ran down in regulation, and Mt. St. Joseph trailing by two, the ball reached Grace Gelone at the top of the key.  Gelone calmly sank the shot to send the game to overtime. After Ashley Smith hit from three-point range to put the Magic up by two in the extra session, they hit all their free throws to hold on for the upset win as the seventh seed downed No. 2. West Chester Henderson, 48-46 in their District 1 Class 5A quarterfinal at Reichert Gymnasium on Friday.

“This one stings, and it’s going to sting for a while,” said Henderson guard Emma Bertrando. “But we’re not out of it.  We made it tougher on ourselves, because now we have to go through the playback bracket, but we can still get to states, and once you get there, anything can happen.”

The two teams struggled in the early going. The Magic owned the boards in the early going, but neither team was having much luck in getting a shot to drop. At the four-minute mark, the score stood at just 4-2 in favor of the Warriors.

“We were struggling with our shots,” said Bertrando, who finished the night second on the Henderson scoring list with 11 points.  “But you just have to make adjustments, and we didn’t make the adjustments we needed to make.”

A steal from Henderson’s Viki Kneis came immediately after a bucket from teammate Erin Torrance, and Knies made an easy layup to put the Warriors up by a pair of scores. But the Magic answered back with the next six points, and following a buzzer beater from Kieran Glowacki, led 9-8 after one.

The Magic took advantage of some Warriors difficulty with turnovers, and built a five-point lead in the second, only to see Henderson slowly climb back in.  With less than a minute to play, Bertrando dropped one in to tie it at 22-22, drawing a foul in the process.  But the free throw caught back iron, and the game went to the break still knotted at 22 apiece.

Grace Gelone paced the Magic offense in the first half with eight points, while Abby Shea knocked down seven for the Warriors.

The second half featured a lot of back and forth, with neither team getting off on the kind of extended run that can open up a game.  Henderson managed the biggest lead of the half, getting up by five early in the fourth.

“We weren’t hitting from the outside the way we can,” said Henderson coach Greta Neff.  “But then you’ve got to be able to work things inside.”

After six lead changes down the stretch, Bertrando put Henderson on top with a layup with 15 seconds to play.

“They changed up the defense on us a little,” said Mount coach Claire Perry.  “But even though they threw one at us, we got the play we wanted, and when the big girl backed off a little, Grace had the open look.”

Gelone got nothing but net to send the game into overtime.

“At first I saw someone open underneath, but I wasn’t sure I could make the pass,” said Gelone.  “So I decided to just take the shot and it went in.”

Knies led the Warriors with 12 points, Shea added 10.

With the win, Mount moves on to the semis and has punched its ticket to the state tourney. The Warriors, meanwhile, will have to go through the grinder that is the playback bracket.

“We didn’t play our best tonight,” said Neff. “But give Mount credit — they played tough defense and made the shots when they needed them.  We just have to put this one behind us and get back on track to make states.”

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