Hendrixson shakes off hard foul, leads hard charge for O’Hara

SPRINGFIELD >> Cardinal O’Hara senior guard Maura Hendrixson started to heat up in the third quarter. Then, one play changed the complexion of Sunday’s game against Springfield.

After burying a 3-point basket to pull the Lions even, Hendrixson intercepted a pass and had an open path the basket. But she was intentionally fouled by Springfield’s Alyssa Long, giving Hendrixson two free shots and the Lions the ball. The Drexel-bound All-Delco calmly swished the free throws to put O’Hara up for good en route to a 44-34 victory in a battle of two of Delaware County’s elite girls basketball programs.

When Hendrixson dusted herself off and made the slow walk to the foul line, she had one thought in mind: there’s no way the Lions would lose.

Hendrixson was little ticked off. But instead of dwelling on the foul, she remained calm. It was hard to blame Long for causing Hendrixson to take a hard fall. Simply put, the Springfield sophomore was making an aggressive basketball play. Long, whose trademark skill is lock-down defense, was trying to stop Hendrixson from making an easy layup.
The officials immediately called an intentional foul. And, for those who believe in momentum shifts, the pendulum officially had swung in O’Hara’s favor.

“At that moment, I was thinking, there is no way that we’re losing now,” Hendrixson said. They kept saying that this was their Super Bowl, because they wanted to play us really bad. I knew it was going to be a good game.”

Hendrixson was outstanding. She scored a game-high 18 points, grabbed six rebounds and had three steals to the lead the Lions to their seventh straight victory.
Springfield (15-5) refused to allow O’Hara (15-4) to pull away in the third quarter. Jordan D’Ambrosio, who paced the Cougars with 14 points, banked a pair of free throws to make it a one-point deficit. Hendrixson answered with her third of three 3-point baskets.

All-Delco Kenzie Gardler made a shot to give O’Hara its largest lead at six points early in the fourth quarter. Springfield got within five once, but never closer.

The teams traded leads in a low-scoring first half. Buoyed by D’Ambrosio’s six second-quarter points, Springfield used an 8-0 run to grab a 14-6 advantage. Megan Ricker spotted up and drilled a long ball to snap the Lions out of their rut, and Hendrixson followed with a trey of her own to get the Lions to within a point.

As time was winding down in the first half, Erin Welde made the go-ahead basket to give O’Hara a 17-16 lead at the break.

“We wanted to keep the momentum the whole way,” D’Ambrosio said. “They had a run in the second quarter, but we knew (at halftime), that they had their run and now it’s our turn. We fed off that energy in the locker room.

“They had the momentum in the fourth quarter, and we really couldn’t foul. They made their shots, too.”

Hendrixson and Gardler were both quiet in the first half. Once Hendrixson started to roll, Gardler followed. Together they combined for 23 of the team’s 27 points after halftime.

Gardler scored all 11 of her points in the second half and converted 7 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win.

“We’ve had so many close games … and we’ve been able to pull through,” Hendrixson said. “Earlier in the season, I don’t think we would have done that. I think we’ve definitely gotten better in closer games.”

A big reason the Lions have had success is Hendrixson, who has blossomed into an excellent all-around high school player.

“She’s always been that way,” O’Hara coach Linus McGinty said. “She’s a great point guard. Since the middle of the season, she has adjusted to having to do so much. She’s done a ton of things for us. We get Molly (Paolino) or Kenzie sometimes to run the ball, just because Maura is doing everything.
“In the last five games or so, she’s been out of this world. We won at Ursuline (Academy) because of her. We don’t win some of these close games.”

Freshman Alexa Abbonizio added 12 points and Belle Mastropietro finished with four points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal for the Cougars. Long pitched in with three points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals.

“I thought our kids played their hearts out and left everything on the floor today,” Springfield coach Ky McNichol said. “Honestly, I feel like we came up a little short in the fourth quarter. O’Hara is a very good team and they made plays in the end when they needed to.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply