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North Penn comes out hot, earns impressive win over rival Central Bucks East

North Penn's Abby Plaugher and Central Bucks East's Jess Lockwood battle for a rebound on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

BUCKINGHAM >> North Penn brought a playoff intensity to its regular-season finale, jumping quickly from the gate and shooting its way to a 30-9 halftime lead over Central Bucks East.

“They shot the ball incredibly well,” said Knights coach Brianna Cullen of her squad. “When you shoot the ball like that, it’s hard to lose a game.”

North Penn was solid across the board in pulling away to a 55-40 victory over the Patriots in a Suburban One League Colonial Conference clash at East Tuesday night.

North Penn caps its regular season at 12-10 overall and 10-6 in the division while the Patriots finish 15-7 overall and 10-6 in the Colonial. Both squads now get ready for the District 1-6A Playoffs.

“I thought overall, we played really well as a team,” Cullen said. “We haven’t had a game like this all year. We haven’t dictated the pace of a game all year.

“This is huge,” Cullen said of the victory, which avenged the 58-52 loss to East earlier in the season. “We’re not in the SOL Tournament so we have a pretty big gap before our first playoff game. We haven’t been in the playoffs in a couple years so for us to get a very big road win and then a week of practice before the playoffs is really important to us.”

In the middle of it all was Abby Plaugher, who hit timely shots, battled inside and consistently set up her teammates for easy buckets.

North Penn’s Abby Plaugher played an all-around game to help lead the way to a win over Central Bucks East on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

“Such a great game,” Cullen said. “Her senior leadership is really shining through and she’s really stepping it up right now.”

Plaugher helped spur that big start for the Knights, hitting a three as NP sprinted to a 14-4 lead. She also had a big third quarter, feeding Olivia Stone for a layup and assisting Caleigh Sperling on another basket.

Plaugher scored inside and passed to Sperling for another bucket, as the Knights maintained a 15-point lead heading into the fourth.

“My teammates played really well off the ball,” Plaugher said. “They were cutting so well so the passes were so easy to make to them. And we’ve just been playing really good team basketball. We’ve been playing so unselfish.”

North Penn’s Caleigh Sperling inbounds, with CB East’s Aubrey Van Dongeren defending. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

Several Knights provided the scoring: Sperling had 19, Plaugher scored 12, Stone 11, Kelly Donnelly had 9 and Emily Orth added four.

The Patriots did get hot in the third and early fourth, as Anna Barry (15 points) hit a pair of threes to help bring the Patriots as close as 45-32.

But Plaugher hit a three and later drove for two, and Sperling broke the press for another basket to put the game away for the Knights.

“East came back,” Cullen said. “They’re very well coached and they came back and had a huge third quarter, but I think we were able to keep our composure and survive their run.”

Said Plaugher: “This was a big win. They beat us earlier in the year and they knocked us out of the playoffs around the same time last year so it was just a huge win for us.”

North Penn 55, Central Bucks East 40
North Penn 14 16 12 13 — 55
Central Bucks East 4 5 18 13 — 40
North Penn: Emily Orth 1 2-2 4, Caleigh Sperling 7 3-4 19, Kelly Donnelly 4 0-0 9, Olivia Stone 5 0-0 11, Abby Plaugher 5 0-0 12. Totals 22 5-6 55.
Central Bucks East: Erin Leray 1 4-4 6, Natalie Berndt 2 0-0 6, Shayne Leray 3 0-0 6, Anna Barry 5 1-2 15, Sydney Ralph 2 3-4 7. Totals 13 8-10 40.
3-pointers: NP-Sperling 2, Donnelly, Stone, Plaugher 2; CBE-Berndt 2, Barry 4.

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