Wissahickon defense turns it up a notch, keys win over Upper Moreland

LOWER GWYNEDD >> Wissahickon doesn’t have a lot of height. As coach Rodney Cline put it: The Trojans are “5-7 or 5-8 with heels on.”

But Wiss more than makes up for it, particularly on the defensive end. The Trojans pressed visiting Upper Moreland into second-half mistakes Tuesday night.

“Brianna Tilghman and Victoria Selvarian – they are our two girls up top when we run our press. They are like bees,” Cline said. “They are all over the place.”

The Trojans played a stifling fourth quarter, nailing down a 36-29 victory over the rival Bears to keep playoff hopes alive.

“We wanted it so bad,” said senior Sydney Ott, who contributed to the defensive mastery and added a pair of crucial three-pointers. “Our defense is our staple so we wanna show other teams what we’re made of.

“We’re creating turnovers, which sparks our offense. We want (a playoff spot) so bad. This would be my first year, probably the first year for all the girls so you can’t ask for anything more.”

Wissahickon’s Victoria Selverian drives to the basket during the Trojans’ game against Upper Moreland on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

The Trojans (10-11) have battled their way into the thick of the playoff race in District 1-6A. Said Cline: “It’s close. We need to win the next one (at Springfield-Montco Thursday) and we need some help from others.”

With the postseason in mind, the Trojans put things away early in the fourth quarter. Back-to-back layins by Tilghman pushed the lead to nine and Wiss continued to clamp down. UM’s Cassidy Murphy, who has the potential to dominate around the basket, was held to 11 points in the contest.

“Macey Segal came in and really stepped up,” Cline said of Wiss’ interior. “Her main sport is softball, but her heart, and her playing varsity softball at a young age, helped her deal with the stage, and the lights.”

In a big spot, Segal added eight points for Wiss and Tilghman led all Wiss scorers with nine. Murphy’s 11 was the high for the Bears (10-12, 6-7 SOL American), who still have a strong shot of making the bracket in District 1-5A.

“We have a tough game (at home against Upper Dublin Wednesday). There’s a little bit of a distance between us (and No. 17 Interboro, with 16 making it) but we’ll probably need some things to go our way to make the playoffs,” coach Matt Carrell said.

Upper Moreland’s Phoebe Longstreth looks to shoot during the Golden Bears’ game against Wissahickon on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Wiss senior Megan Oberholtzer, on crutches, scored a ceremonious first basket to get things underway on Senior Night.

Upper Moreland was then awarded a basket at the other end, Phoebe Longstreth doing the honors.

Oberholtzer had worked her way back from illness but then was injured earlier this season.

Said Cline of the senior: “We started working together when she was in fifth grade and she’s got a really nice shot. She can shoot the lights out.”

The Trojans began to work their offense into a rhythm, helped greatly by a pair of threes by Ott. Senior Carly Fadel also scored for Wiss but Upper Moreland stayed close behind the three-point shooting ofLongstreth and Caitlin Corr. Ott hit her second three in the final 10 seconds of the opening quarter, providing Wiss a 12-8 edge.

Longstreth continued to hit for Upper Moreland in the second quarter and Corr again connected for three, pushing the Bears in front. Six points in the period by Murphy down low were key for the Bears.

Segal came off the bench to hit a pair of threes for the Trojans, but the Bears went into the half up 19-18.

But the rest of the night would belong to Wissahickon.

Upper Moreland’s Cassidy Murphy goes to the hoop during the Golden Bears’ game against Wissahickon on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

The Trojan defense caused several Bear turnovers, turning up the intensity and getting key points from its bench in pushing ahead.

Victoria Williams and Tilghman both hit for Wiss, and another turnover by Upper Moreland triggered a Williams-to-Selvarian fast break, resulting in a pair of free throws by Selvarian, a senior, and a 29-23 Wiss lead after three.

The drives of Tilghman and a persistent Wiss defense had the Trojans ahead by at least seven the rest of the way.

“We kind of ran out of steam at the end,” said Carrell, whose squad was missing two players due to illness. “We hung tough for a while but (the Trojans) make you play fast and they kind of wore us down.”

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