Fast start keeps McAteer, Garnet Valley on track

CONCORD >> Garnet Valley coach Joe Woods couldn’t wait to talk to his players following the fourth-seeded Jaguars’ 56-48 victory over No. 5 Abington in a District 1 Class 6A quarterfinal game Friday night.

“I told them this was the first time we had made the district semifinals in 6A,” Woods said. “That didn’t get much of a reaction. Then I told them they had the rest of the weekend off and they screamed. They were so excited.”

While his players are resting Saturday, Woods will take in the contest between top-seeded Souderton and No. 8 Council Rock North. The winner will face Garnet Valley (23-3) in a district semifinal match at Bensalem Wednesday night.

Woods expected a challenge from the visiting Ghosts (18-6). Abington had come to Garnet Valley several years ago and upset the higher-seed Jaguars. What the GV boss might not have expected was for his team to pour in 23 points in the first period.

Junior Emily McAteer, who shot 5-for-5 from the floor and 3-for-3 at the foul line in the first eight minutes, led the way as the Jags gained an 11-point advantage by the end of the opening period.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a quarter like that,” said McAteer, who finished with team highs in points (27), rebounds (12), steals (4) and assists (4). “We said we had to come out pumped up, stay pumped up, and get off to a good start.”

That accomplished, things went in the opposite direction during the second period for the Jaguars, who shot 1-for-10 from the floor in the period, missed four foul shots, and committed nine turnovers.

Garnet Valley took a two-point lead into the fourth, then shot 4-for-6 from the floor and 9-for-11 at the line while forcing six Abington turnovers.

Junior Brianne Borcky (13 points, four rebounds, three steals, three assists, two blocked shots) got five points in the last period. A 3-point play by McAteer with 4:48 to play put Garnet Valley ahead, 45-44. McAteer added four more free throws and Abington had a turnover before the Ghosts scored again.

“They were in foul trouble, so I decided to take the ball to the basket,” McAteer said. “My dad’s always telling me that at halftime I should go to the foul line and shoot, and I think that helped me after I missed those two (foul) shots before halftime.”

With just under three minutes to play, Borcky went to work. She made a field goal and blocked an Abington shot. After a Ghosts steal and field goal, Nicole Barnes, who had not scored, went 2-for-2 at the line to build GV’s lead back to five points. Another Borcky block, one Barnes free throw and two from the line from McAteer set the final score.

“I really didn’t realize I had done that,” Borcky said when questioned about her shot-blocking. “This was a game where we realized that when we started losing our energy, we had to get it back again. Playing in districts you have to be ready for every game.”

Woods also credited juniors Jillian Nagy (eight points off the bench) and Maddie McKee (eight rebounds), and sophomore Liesl Dentinger (three points in the first half off the bench) for their roles in Garnet Valley’s success.

“We knew defensively we had to be aware of (Millersville recruit Sam Brusha),” he said of the Abington senior, who shot 3-for-12 in scoring 11 points. “She’s capable of firing in a lot of points. And in the third period, (junior Tamia Wessells) came off the bench in threw in those three 3-pointers. Each one was from farther out.

“We’re happy to have made it to the semifinals, and Monday we’ll be getting ready for whoever it is we’ll have to play at Bensalem.”

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