CR North edges Upper Dublin in District 1-6A second round

NEWTOWN TWP. >> During a stoppage in play during the second half, the Council Rock North girls basketball coaches had a message for Dana Bandurick.

As coach Lou Palkovics put it, she was giving too much respect on defense and not using her athleticism to its fullest. Bandurick got the message and with 10.8 left in the fourth quarter, the Indians junior jumped an Upper Dublin inbound pass, swiping not only the ball but possibly the Cardinals’ last real chance to tie the game.

Bandurick and her teammates made some key defensive stops late as the No, 8 seeded Indians edged out the No. 9 Cardinals 37-34 in the second round of the District 1-6A girls basketball tournament on Wednesday.

“I know (Upper Dublin) is a tremendous defensive team, and I kept stressing during the week whoever imposed their pace was going to win,” Palkovics said. “Well, my girls proved me wrong because they were able to play a slowdown game in the 30s and win.”

Palkovics has been battling a virus all week and wasn’t even at the team’s practices the last two days and heaped plenty of credit onto his assistant coaches and the players themselves for getting ready. A very late change swapped the Indians and Cardinals in seeding and while UD got the chance to shake off some rust in a win over No. 24 Pennsbury on Saturday, CRN senior Becca Margolis said they were happy to get a few extra days of rest and preparation.

Margolis, the gritty gamer point guard for the Indians, didn’t shoot the ball as well as she usually does but like any good point guard, dished plenty of plaudits onto her teammates for their efforts. The senior still made her mark on the game, with a couple late foul shots, a fourth quarter steal and the pass that led to Sydney Blum’s go-ahead three, but it did take everyone to get the job done.

“I was so proud of my teammates,” Margolis said. “Mackenzie (Tinner) took a big hit drawing a charge on (Jackie) Vargas, I think that was the real game-winner right there, Sydney Blum hit a three to give us a lead, Cammy Polinsky hit a big three and Liv Boyle and Dana got that steal at the end which sealed the deal. I owe it all to my teammates.”

The entire game was a series of punches being traded between two very good basketball teams. UD (19-5) led early, then saw the Indians (18-5) close the first quarter on a 6-2 run for a 12-8 lead, only to engineer a big run of their own in the second quarter.

Down 15-8 after Margolis canned a step-back trey early in the second, the Cardinals scored 10 straight, going up on Maggie Weglos’ three and traded shots to take a 21-19 edge into the half. Even after the hosts stormed out with a 6-0 lead to start the third quarter, UD again rallied back and took a lead with 5:15 left in the final period.

After that, not much went right for the Cardinals on the offensive end.

“I thought as clean as we were in the third quarter was as sloppy as we were in the fourth quarter,” Cardinals coach Morgan Funsten said. “We didn’t make good decisions. Whether it’s in transition or halfcourt, we can’t go as many possessions as we did in the fourth quarter without even getting a shot.”

UD trailed 32-27 after Polinsky scored in the lane to start the fourth quarter, but put together a 7-0 run to give itself the lead. Vargas started the run with a hoop in the post, Dayna Balasa knotted it 32-32 on a three and a shot by Nicole Kaiser dropped to put UD ahead.

At some point after that, the CR North coaches told Bandurick to start playing Kaiser a little more aggressively on the perimeter and it was a domino effect with the rest of the Indians’ defense falling into line. Tinner drew a huge offensive charge on Vargas with 26 seconds left, fouling out the Cardinals sophomore and forcing another late turnover.

“This has been the story of our year in the close games,” Funsten said. “We’ve had a fourth-quarter lead in every game except the first game of the year against CB South and we just haven’t been able to close it out. We’re still around, we get to play Saturday and we get to play at home.”

The Cardinals will have to play their way into the state tournament for the second straight season and will begin that quest with a must-win game against No. 16 Haverford on Saturday. Funsten noted his team has bounced back from every other loss it’s had this year and expected his players aren’t ready to quit on the season.

Council Rock North earned a state playoff bid with Wednesday’s win and a quarterfinal trip to No. 1 Souderton on Saturday. Palkovics and Souderton coach Lynn Carroll are friends and he expected another tough, well-prepared defensive team to be waiting for him there.

Margolis canned two free throws with 16.2 left for the 37-34 lead. UD set up for an inbound with 10.8 left, but the pass never got where it was supposed to, as Bandurick swept in for the steal.

“It wasn’t planned, but Dana’s an aggressive player and she was very set on getting the ball and getting up the court so she was ready to go,” Margolis said. “She just anticipated that herself. We were ready to stop the clock if we had to, we didn’t want to let them get anything off.”

Even after that, UD still had life following a pair of missed foul shots but an errant pass went out of bounds and CR North was able to celebrate its trip to states.

“It means a lot and we want to make the most of it,” Margolis said. “I want to make the best of it for everybody. I owe this to my teammates and I’m just really happy we’re going to make it again.”

UPPER DUBLIN 8 13 6 7 – 34
COUNCIL ROCK NORTH 12 7 11 7 – 37
Upper Dublin: Nicole Kaiser 4 3-4 11, Jess Polin 1 0-0 2, Maggie Weglos 3 0-0 8, Dayna Balasa 2 0-0 6, Jackie Vargas 2 2-4 6, Sarah Eskew 0 1-2 1. Totals: 12 6-10 34.
Council Rock North: Becca Margolis 3 2-4 10, Camryn Polinsky 2 1-2 6, Dana Bandurick 3 4-9 10, Mackenzie Tinner 3 0-3 6, Sydney Blum 2 0-0 5. Totals: 13 7-18 37.
3-pointers: CRN – Margolis 2, Polinsky, Blum; UD – Balasa 2, Weglos 2.

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