LOWER GWYNEDD >> Shannon Remolde’s been through enough battles in the AACA to know there’s never an easy win.
The junior guard’s free throws late in the fourth quarter helped her St. Basil Academy girls basketball team fend off a furious comeback attempt by host Gwynedd Mercy Academy on Saturday, just another typical league game. For the Panthers, coming off a rare losing streak over the holiday break, plunging back into league competition proved the perfect remedy.
St. Basil got its groove back, but had to earn it with a tight 47-43 win over the Monarchs to start their 2020 part of the schedule.
“Our coaches say we’re the Super Bowl team to every other team in our league, so it’s a reminder to us to not take any team lightly,” Remolde said. “We want to go out in every game, play the way we usually win and hopefully come away with the win.”
The Panthers have won the last three AACA tournament titles and as the team everyone else is looking to take out, use it to fuel their early game play. Saturday was no different, with the Panthers’ defense taking advantage of a slow start from Gwynedd Mercy to cap the first quarter on an 11-0 run for a 16-4 lead.
GMA had five turnovers in the first quarter, four of them via steal, which didn’t make their task any easier.
“When we’ve had problems this year, it’s been with how we come out of the gate,” Monarchs coach Tom Lonergan said. “We came out slow again today and what we have to learn from this is we can’t do that against the better teams we’re playing against. You have to give credit to the team we’re playing for putting us in that position, but we have to have better energy to start.”
Remolde, who scored at least three points in every quarter, Denae Carter and Samantha White led the early effort for St. Basil. Carter finished with a team-high 15 points, netting seven in the opening frame while White and Remolde just brought a lot of energy across the board.
St. Basil played in the Diamond State Classic over the break, finishing fourth in its bracket after back-to-back losses. After going all of last season without a loss until the state playoffs, it was new ground for some of the team’s players but White and Remolde agreed they were losses that improved the Panthers overall.
Panthers coach Terry Mancini noted every team St. Basil played in Delaware had multiple Division I recruits and Remolde said the way those squads operated on offense helped the Panthers get better as a defensive team.
“Our last tournament really prepared us to start well today,” White said. “We got a little hectic at the end, so we can definitely get better there, but I think we really came together.”
Gwynedd started slow but heated up in a hurry. Sophia and Bianca Coleman helped keep GMA in striking distance through the early legs of the second frame before the long ball started to fall. An injury would sideline Bianca Coleman the rest of the way, but a three from Sarah White kicked off a 10-2 run to close the half, pulling the Monarchs within 27-22 at the break.
Another of St. Basil’s chief philosophies is to win the first three minutes of each quarter and the Panthers emphatically took care of that in the third. White hit a 3-pointer off a Kelly Grant assist, Carter scored on a drive and White found Remolde for a corner triple with five minutes left in the period for a 35-25 lead.
“We’ve been telling the girls all along, everybody we play in our league, this is their Super Bowl so we have to match the intensity of the other team,” Mancini said. “It’s a pretty good system we have and most of the girls have been in it at least two or three years so there isn’t anything they haven’t seen that would faze them. They’re very good at adjusting on the fly where I don’t have to do much or call timeouts, they all have very good basketball IQ.”
Down 10 entering the final quarter, White did all she could to rally the Monarchs. The guard led GMA with 17 points, scoring 11 in the quarter and saving three of her five 3-point makes for the final act, with most of them tough, well-contested shots.
After a Panthers miss, White grabbed a loose ball rebound, dribbled up the floor and hit a three with 2:21 left, pulling the Monarchs within 44-40 before Remolde was fouled and sank both at the line for a six-point lead. The sharpshooter would connect again, this time with 1:02 to play, making it a one-possession game.
With Bianca Coleman out, the Monarchs asked Mollie Hanson to take on a bigger role and the senior came up with a steal down three points. An offensive foul with 35 seconds left negated Gwynedd Mercy’s chance to either tie or get within one, Grant split a pair of free throws and the Panthers defense denied the Monarchs a look from deep on the final possession.
“I think 90-some percent of teams in the area would have given up and wouldn’t have kept battling and they did against a very good team,” Lonergan said. “If you asked me being down 16-4 if we’d be down one score under a minute left with the ball, I may not have thought it was possible so we’re happy about that but we’d be happier with a ‘W.’
“We know we have to play this game another time and maybe a third, so our players have to feel confident if they play four quarters, they’ll have a chance to do something.”
GMA has a tough week coming up as the Monarchs get their first crack at AACA rival Mount Saint Joseph on Tuesday, face another AACA heavyweight in Villa Maria on Thursday and hit the road to Lansdale Catholic next Saturday.
St. Basil finishes its first half of AACA play with home games against Sacred Heart on Tuesday and Villa Joseph Marie on Thursday.
“We’ve grown a lot since the beginning of the season and losing Casey (Remolde to Kutztown),” Remolde said. “We’re learning to adjust, I think we did that very nicely today and we’re becoming a good team.”
“From the beginning of the season, we’ve been developing our skills and learning to play together,” White added. “That’s only going to keep getting better as the season continues.”
ST. BASIL ACADEMY 47, GWYNEDD MERCY ACADEMY 43
ST. BASIL ACADEMY 16 11 12 8 – 47
GWYNEDD MERCY ACADEMY 4 18 7 14 – 43
St. Basil Academy: Shannon Remolde 4 3-4 14, Kelly Grant 0 1-2 1, Samantha White 4 0-0 9, Lizzie Deal 2 2-2 6, Denae Carter 6 3-6 15, Riley Scannell 0 2-4 2. Totals: 16 11-18 47.
Gwynedd Mercy Academy: Kaylie Griffin 3 2-3 10, Sarah White 6 0-0 17, Bianca Coleman 2 1-1 5, Sofia Coleman 3 1-2 7, Mollie Hanson 1 0-0 2, Hannah Griffin 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 4-6 43.
3-pointers: SBA – Remolde 3, White; GMA – White 5, K Griffin 2.
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