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Lower Moreland rolls past Dock Mennonite, advances to BAL quarterfinals

LOWER MORELAND >> Rich Becker was looking for intensity from the Lower Moreland girls basketball team in its Bicentennial Athletic League tournament opener Monday night.

“Getting to the loose balls, out-hustling them,” said the Lions coach. “Our goals before the game make them take the first timeout and let’s get to our bench early.”

Lower Moreland brought the early energy against Dock Mennonite, racing out to a 19-3 lead after a quarter of play and rolled to a 45-14 first-round victory over the visiting Pioneers.

They’re a young team, they’re rebuilding, their coach (Amedeo Citro) is doing a nice job and we knew we were better than them and we just wanted to really have the game over by the end of the first quarter,” Becker said. “And I told the girls in some of the timeouts, ‘We’re not playing to win this game, you’re looking to win a championship in a couple of weeks.’”

Phoebe Lynch scored seven of her game-high 13 points in the first quarter – she added the other six in the third – while Ceili Courduff collected 12 points, 10 coming in the first half which ended with the Lions (14-9 leading 31-8.

“Even in these slow games, we can’t play down to their level and we just have to keep on pushing and keep on going,” Lynch said.

Lower Moreland advances to host Collegium Charter, a 63-23 winner over Delco Christian, 6 p.m. Tuesday. The Lions are trying to reach the BAL semifinals for a fifth straight season.

“We just have to keep our poise and start really unifying together,” Lynch said. “And we can’t rely on Ceili getting inside, everyone has to contribute to the game cause teams, better teams are going to point out that it’s Ceili or it’s me getting the ball, always shooting and we have to start working together and coming together to take down those teams.”

Kenzie Derstine and Alyse Sobetsky each had five points for Dock Mennonite (5-16), which next faces Bristol on the road in the District 1-2A semifinals on Wednesday, Feb. 19.

 Lower Moreland starts districts the same day, hosting Villa Joseph Marie in the 4A semifinals with the winner clinching a PIAA berth. The Lions have qualified for states the past three seasons.

Lower Moreland began the year 1-6 but has come on strong late and extended their winning streak to four in a row.

“We were missing two starters for the first seven games of the year and then on top of that our center ran track this year,” Becker said. “So it took us a little bit to get going.”

With return of Maggie McGarry and Alex Krutsinger – the later out Monday due to being sick – to the lineup, LM dug themselves out of the early 1-6 hole. After winning three straight to sit 4-6, the Lions dropped back-to-back games to Phoenixville and Upper Moreland but since then have won 10 of their last 11, the lone loss during the span coming to a now 22-win Methacton Jan. 25.

“Having Maggie and Kruts hurt was definitely harder cause we had to go deeper into our bench and our bench is already not that deep,” Lynch said. “But I definitely think the other players have improved and really added to our strength as a team. But getting those players back really helped us and I think it’s made us a lot better.”

Lynch had six points as the Lions grabbed an 11-0 lead before Derstine banked in a three for Dock’s first points. Lower Moreland, however, posted the first quarter’s last eight points – Jessica Shein finding a cutting Liz Neeld for a layup and a 19-3 advantage.

The Lions went up 25-5 in the second quarter on a Neeld fast-break basket with two Courduff free throws with 55 seconds had the home side leading 31-8 at the break.

Lower Moreland shut out Dock in the 8-0 in the third – the first six points by Lynch before a Courduff putback made it 39-8.

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