Lower Moreland stuns Gwynedd Mercy in District 1-4A final

NORTHAMPTON >> A baseline jumper by Gwynedd Mercy’s Maura Conroy did not fall and Lower Moreland’s Rachael Millan came out of the pack with the basketball.

“It came to me and I just picked it up and started running, started dribbling,” Millan said with a smile afterwards, still catching her breath.

Millan was fouled with just three seconds to go, made one of two free throws at the other end, and a desperation three by the Monarchs banged off the backboard as second-seeded Lower Moreland hung on for a 35-32 victory over top-seeded GMA in the District One Class 4A Final at Council Rock South High.

Millan scored a game-high 13 points, hit a crucial three to get the Lions going in the fourth, and she was there for the final, frantic heartbeats, bringing down the biggest rebound of the game and finishing off a victory cemented by the defense.

“It means so much. We worked so hard,” Millan said, after Lower Moreland rallied from as many as 10 down. “We knew we had to play great defense. (GMA) can drive, they can shoot, they can do almost everything. We had to get out on the jump shots and we just did it really well.”

Lower Moreland bothered GMA enough to shoot 20 percent from the floor and held the 2016 District 1-3A Champs to five points in the fourth.

“It’s such a confidence boost,” Millan said of the victory. “We worked so hard and we know going into states we can do great things.”

Lower Moreland’s Rachael Millan goes up for a shot past Gwynedd Mercy’s Reganne Flannery during the District 1-4A championship game on Saturday, March 4, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

A three by Millan brought the Lions within 27-26 early in the fourth and — after a free throw by the Monarchs’ Megan Dougherty — a layup by Ceili Corduff tied things up at 28 apiece.

A scoop shot by Corduff later pushed Lower Moreland into the lead for good at 32-30, and strong passing capped another offensive sequence for the Lions, Corduff cutting to the basket and laying it in to extend the margin to 34-30.

Carly Heineman’s baseline drive brought GMA right back in it at 34-32 and then Lower Moreland worked the ball around, milking the clock from one minute down to 30 seconds.

The Monarchs drew a jump ball and regained possession but the potential tying shot by Conroy came off the rim and into Millan’s hands, her free throw providing the final point of the day.

Heineman and Georgia Cattie — who hit three threes — each had nine for the Monarchs, but GMA could not maintain the control it had in the first half, when it led by as many as 10 and went to the locker room up 20-13.

“In that second quarter we were able to create a lot of turnovers but to Lower Moreland’s credit they were able to keep themselves in the game,” said GMA coach Tom Lonergan, whose team will now look to states. “They shot the ball well and we continued to shoot poorly. And I think the disappointing thing from our end is that we didn’t have the defensive intensity in the second half that we had in the second quarter.”

Top Photo: Lower Moreland celebrates its victory over Gwynedd Mercy in the District 1-4A victory championship on Saturday, March 4, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

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