UPPER PROVIDENCE >> The Phoenixville girls basketball team was not at all happy after losing to Pope John Paul II by a point last month. But the Phantoms worked hard in practice coming into Tuesday night’s rematch to correct what went wrong the first time and played well from beginning to end in a 48-34 Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier Division win.
Maliyah Warren and Riley Ford-Bey dominated inside for the visiting Phantoms (5-2 Frontier, 6-4 PAC, 9-7 overall), whose turnover-forcing defense and offensive rebounding enabled them to put up almost twice as many shots as the Golden Panthers (4-2, 4-5, 6-10).
Warren had 18 points and nine rebounds, Ford-Bey grabbed 12 rebounds – six of them on the offensive end – and the Phantoms forced 21 turnovers. Katie Nilles scored 17 for PJP.
“It made us really mad, honestly,” Warren said concerning a 28-27 loss at home to the Panthers on December 20. “It was not a great game for us. In practice, we worked hard to fix the things that went wrong … find out what our weaknesses are and what our strengths are, and we went out and executed what we needed to do tonight.”
“That was heart-breaking,” Phantom coach Tracey Sterling said concerning the earlier setback. “That hurt. I told the seniors this was their last game of this rivalry. We played a whole game. They came together. They were aggressive, looking to score and I’m proud of the defensive effort.”
Nadia Platt (6 points, 4 rebounds) gave the Panthers their only lead of the night when she hit a jumper to open the scoring. The Phantoms took their first lead at 7-4 on a three-point play by Nevaeh Latimore-Beasley and scored the first six points of the second quarter for a 17-6 advantage. PJP closed to within 31-25 on a jumper by Nilles midway through the third quarter, but the Phantoms broke the game open at the end of the period when Ava Gnias (7 points) hit a 3-pointer from the right corner and Kayden Baratta knocked down another at the buzzer for a 42-28 advantage.
The aggressive Phoenixville defense forced six turnovers in each of the first two quarters and seven in the third while the Phantoms committed only six total. That disparity and the offensive rebound advantage helped the visitors put up 50 shots through three quarters to just 23 by the Panthers.
“Our defense causes a lot of problems on the court,” said Warren. “We shut them down the way we wanted to and came out with a good lead.”
“They made more plays. They had more shots,” said PJP coach Jack Flanagan. “Every turnover is a shot opportunity not to be had. We knew their size was going to be an issue. They did some nice things on offense and we didn’t execute the way we can. We prepared for this game. We knew what they were going to do.”
Nilles and Grace Fitzgerald each had six rebounds for the Panthers, but that was not nearly enough to offset the play on the boards by Warren and Ford-Bey, who were usually not on the court at the same time in the first game against Pope John Paul.
“They really stepped out and handled business,” said Sterling. “I couldn’t ask for more. We play well when they’re in there together. When we have that height, it gives us a nice advantage.”
The Phantoms were coming off a 54-27 crossover win against Norristown, which could turn out to be important if the division ends up being decided by overall record in the PAC.
“It was a good Norristown win,” said Warren. “This was a good win. We have the fire. We want to win the Frontier.”
“We’re on a mission,” said Sterling. “We set a goal at the beginning of the year to win the Frontier championship. Anything can happen in the next two weeks. It started with Norristown. We had to get a crossover win.”
PJP had come into the night in first-place, a half-game ahead of the Phantoms and Upper Merion, but has now fallen a half-game behind those two teams.
“This time of year, the margin for error is so small,” said Flanagan. “You just have to win the next game and see where you are.”
Phoenixville vs Pope John Paul II
|Pope John Paul II||6||12||10||6||34|
Pope John Paul II
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