HAVERFORD — When the shots aren’t falling this season, Haverford is confident its defense can win a lot of games.
When you’re in the midst of a 10-for-38 shooting performance, as the Fords were Thursday evening, you better have good defenders on the floor. The Fords have plenty of them.
In a 29-24 victory over Garnet Valley, coach Lauren Pellicane relied on contributions – mostly on the defensive end – from 11 players.
“With this team, it’s going to start with our defense at all times,” Pellicane said. “We were sluggish today, we were making too many mistakes offensively, and we needed to limit turnovers. Our defense is going to help our games become a little bit more fluid.
“It goes both ways. We need our guards to play smart, not turning the ball over, and we need our key players like Caroline (Dotsey) to step up.”
Dotsey, the sophomore power forward, registered eight points and three blocked shots. She started to hit her stride in the second half, along with the Fords’ other main scorer, senior guard Chiara MacGillivray. Dotsey scored four points in the fourth quarter and MacGillivray had five in the third.
“When my shots aren’t falling in the beginning, I’m always working on sticking with it. I keep going and don’t get down on myself,” Dotsey said. “I felt like we were able to be a lot more verbal as a team, just trying to communicate more. That’s something we’ve been working on.”
Her mere presence makes a big difference. The Jags had a difficult time scoring inside the paint against Dotsey, who is rangy and athletic.
“I’ve really been trying to work on not over-committing and being able to support my team with my defense,” she said. “And just not standing there causing congestion.”
No player exemplifies Haverford’s gritty, defensive-minded style better than junior forward Emma Rowland. She flies under the radar, but she’s a strong on-the-ball defender and rebounder.
“It starts with defense and we have a really aggressive team this year,” Rowland said. “Once we get the defense down, we can take it on offense and get rebounds and score more. We have to keep working at it.”
Pellicane had high praise for Rowland, who collected four points, five rebounds, two steals and a block Thursday.
“She had a great sophomore year for us and she’s almost the heart and soul of our team,” Pellicane said. “I think she’s one of the best defenders in the league, that’s my personal belief. No one works harder. She usually guards the other team’s best or top scorer. She doesn’t stuff the stat sheet, but she’s so important. She’s a great rebounder for us at 5-foot-8. She was playing undersized tonight against their 6-footer (Garnet Valley senior Jess Brewer) and she did a real nice job for us. And she does so many things that you really don’t notice, like taking the ball out for us against the press, all those really important little things and she does them so well.”
After losing two of their first three games, the Fords have reeled off three straight victories. In a shortened season because of the pandemic, every game counts. Haverford seems capable of winning the Central League title and making a run in the District 1 Class 6A tournament.
“We’re grateful to be playing out here at all,” Dotsey said. “We all feel really lucky to be out here together, spending time on and off the court.”
Maddie Williams had a solid game at point guard for the Fords, finishing with five points and four assists. McKenna Walsh, Sky Newman and freshman Aniya Eberhart were among the players who gave the Fords a spark off the bench.
Garnet Valley shot 10-for-41 from the field, but kept within striking distance of Haverford the entire game. The Jags used a 13-5 run in the second quarter to take a four-point lead into intermission. After halftime, the Fords went up-tempo and did a better job converting on the offensive end. MacGillivray hit a long deuce to give the Fords a 20-19 lead, one they did not relinquish.
Junior guard Ava Possenti led the way for the Jaguars with eight points and four steals. Brewer finished with a game-high seven rebounds.
The loss dropped the Jags to 2-5 on the season.
“I think we’re getting closer and getting better and we’re trusting each other more. It’s a process,” coach Joe Woods said. “We’re working on the younger players, getting them involved a little bit more. We just have to make some baskets, take care of the basketball. It comes down to not wasting the opportunities we have.”
Elsewhere in the Central League:
Radnor 49, Strath Haven 47 >> Sally Austen scored eight points in the fourth quarter, including a putback at the buzzer to lift Radnor over the Panthers. She also pulled down six rebounds.
Cierra Hopson had a strong all-around game for Radnor with 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. Ellie Rinehart pitched in with eight points.
Rose Henry scored a game-high 18 points to lead Strath Haven. Faith Raymond added 10 points.
Ridley 53, Lower Merion 43 >> A balanced attack helped the Green Raiders beat the Aces. Shannen Hinchey netted a team-high 12 points and Amirah King chipped in nine. Kylie McNicholas and Lindsay Boyd had seven apiece.
In the Del Val League:
Penn Wood 83, Interboro 38 >> LaShanda Smith poured in 33 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Patriots.
Ashley Cryus contributed 19 points. Raquel Curry collected 16 points and 19 rebounds, while Jourdan Johnson had 10 points, six assists and six steals.
Sierra Diawara topped the Bucs with 16 points. Aniya Boland added 12 points.
In the Inter-Ac League:
Episcopal Academy 36, Baldwin School 30 >> The Churchwomen held the Bears to single digits in three of the four quarters.
Amanda Purcell paced a balanced offensive attack with 10 points. Junior Riley Cassidy added eight points for EA and freshman Natalie Magnotta pitched in with six points.
In nonleague action:
Sacred Heart 49, Delco Christian 36 >> Emily McKenna tallied a career-high 14 points and Bella O’Toole netted a career-best 10 points for the Lions.
Kathryn Gallagher posted a game-high 15 points and five steals to lead Sacred Heart. ML Franz added eight points, eight steals and seven assists.
Ashanti Harris led the Knights with 12 points.