NORRISTOWN — Cardinal O’Hara’s surprising run in the PIAA Class 6A tournament was halted in the quarterfinal round Friday night.
The District 12 champion Lions couldn’t quite contain Neshaminy senior Brooke Mullin, who collected 11 of her game-high 15 points in the second half to lead the Redskins to a 47-35 victory.
“Brooke Mullin is so good,” O’Hara senior guard Kerry Patterson said. “Alli (Harvey) is a good shooter and their point guard, Kristin (Curley), is a real good player. They have a lot of girls who can shoot and score. They all work really good together, so to guard them was kind of hard.
“Overall, I thought we did a pretty good job, it was just toward the end of the game when we started to get down on ourselves a little bit.”
Which is what happens with young teams sometimes.
The loss marked the end of the road for O’Hara’s two seniors, Patterson and Erin Welde, who led the program during a transition season. The inexperienced group, which started a freshman (Sydni Scott) and two sophomores (Amaris Baker, Siobhan Boylan) Friday night at Norristown High, began to find its identity late in the regular season and the team’s solid play carried over to the PIAA tournament.
Two wins in states is a nice accomplishment for this season’s O’Hara girls basketball team.
“Back in November we would not have been able to play Spring-Ford (last round) the way we did, or even Neshaminy tonight the way we did,” said Patterson, who had two points, four rebounds and a pair of assists in her final game at O’Hara.
“But we really came together as a team. We won and loss as a team. We gave each other high-fives and we had a bench that was into every game. I just think we all came together with the goal of wanting to win states.”
O’Hara’s 2018-19 campaign ended with a 15-12 record. Neshaminy, meanwhile, advances to the state semifinal to play Garnet Valley in a rematch of the District 1 final.
“It’ll be a little bit of a revenge game,” Harvey said. “It will be a good game…”
Several Neshaminy players stuck around to watch Garnet Valley rally in the fourth quarter to defeat Council Rock North. GV raced out to a 17-3 lead against the Redskins in the district final and won, 63-53.
When the teams clash again on Tuesday, the Redskins believe they will be better prepared.
“I think, obviously that day, our shots were not falling, around the rim and around the 3,” Harvey said. “I definitely think it will be a different match-up, and a different outcome.”
Neshaminy outscored O’Hara, 14-7, in the third quarter and shot a crisp 10-for-12 at the free-throw line. Emily Tantala was 6-for-6 at the line and Harvey went 4-for-4.
The Lions just ran out of juice in the final quarter. The Redskins got double digit scoring contributions from Mullin (15 points), Curley (12 points) and Emily Tantala (11 points).
Boylan, a sophomore forward/guard, had a tough assignment trying to defend Mullin, who is tall, rangy and very athletic. Boylan’s offense was a bright spot for O’Hara. She made a three-point play late in the third quarter to pull the Lions within three points and finished with 12 points, three rebounds and an assist.
While O’Hara’s primary scorers — Scott, Baker, Patterson — struggled at times to hit shots, Boylan made some big buckets when the team needed someone to score them.
Alas, Boylan’s nice performance wasn’t enough for O’Hara.
“Siobhan did have a good game, and when she steps up like that, there’s no one who can stop her when she gets the ball,” said Patterson, who will continue her career next season at University of the Sciences. Her future college teammate and roomie is Archbishop Carroll’s Harlem Jennings. “I can’t wait to see how she plays next year. I think once she gets a little stronger, she’s going to make everything and score a lot.”
The key for the Neshaminy defense was silencing Baker, who was O’Hara’s main scoring threat in the first two games of states. Baker was limited to three points in the first three quarters.
“We were playing as a team,” Harvey said. “We were taking who we were guarding personal. For us, it’s always defense first and the offense will come. We knew our roles, we knew what we had to do to get the win and we did it.”
With Neshaminy ahead by 10 points, following a nice and-1 play by Mullin, Scott banked a 3-pointer to cut O’Hara’s deficit to seven. The freshman guard made a trio of 3-balls and scored all 12 of her points after halftime.
But Neshaminy was just too good on this night,.
Another basket by Mullin gave the Redskins a 40-31 lead, and Harvey made two more foul shots to make it an 11-point contest. Baker scored a layup to trim the deficit back to nine with less than two minutes to play, but O’Hara couldn’t get any closer.