READING — Molly Rullo scored 31 points in Cardinal O’Hara’s 61-49 victory over Central York at the Geigle Complex Friday night.
The sophomore didn’t care all too much about her individual accomplishment. Never before in her relatively brief high school career had Rullo produced 30 points in a game before Friday.
The only thing that mattered to Rullo was the fact that the Lions were advancing in the PIAA Class 6A tournament. O’Hara will meet Delaware County and Catholic League rival Archbishop Carroll, which claimed a 55-43 win over Abington Friday, in the 6A Eastern final Monday night. Time and location will be determined later.
“Getting the win and going to the (state) semifinals is huge,” Rullo said. “Whatever I can do to help my team out, that’s the goal.”
Well, she was unguardable. At times it seemed as though District 3 champion Central York was ignoring the fact that the sensational sophomore was the best player on the floor. Rullo was left alone too many times and had a field day cutting to the basket. After scoring 10 points in the first half, Rullo had nine in the third quarter and 12 more in the fourth. Central York had no idea how to defend Rullo’s ability to pull up, drive to the lane or cut to the basket.
“They probably don’t see it all the time, you know? We’re a hard team to guard because of all the different stuff that we run,” O’Hara coach Chrissie Doogan said. “We are throwing in different stuff at practice, little wrinkles. And Molly is really good at changing speed and changing direction and that’s what gets her some baskets.”
Central York (25-5) started the night with some pep in its step while O’Hara (23-5) had troubling settling in early in the first quarter. Senior combo guard Bella Chimienti, a 1,000-point scorer, and power forward Mackenzie Wright were productive in the opening minutes. The Lions committed three turnovers out of the chute and trailed 6-0. After a timeout, senior guard Bridget Dawson got a steal and drove the length of the floor for a layup and-1. The three-point play drew the Lions out from their malaise.
“We all kind of just took a breath (and) looked at one another,” said Rullo, who hit on 11 of 20 shots from the field and added nine rebounds two steals and two blocked shots. “We want to play for one another and I think trusting our coaches and doing what they told us to do, like coming to the ball and staying composed, was really the key for us today.”
The second quarter was all about Joanie Quinn. The junior guard scored 13 of her 17 points, including a 3-pointer to give O’Hara its first lead at 20-18. The Lions were unstoppable from that point, closing the half on an 18-5 run. They took a 29-19 lead into halftime.
“They were pretty tall and they had some really good players. At a certain point I think we realized that we could just go,” said Quinn, who added four rebounds, three assists and one steal. “We knew we needed to come out and play stronger in the second quarter after being a little bit nervous and rattled in the first. We realized we had to settle in and play our game.”
Chimienti was held in check after a hot first quarter. She was held to one point in the second and third periods and finished with 14. O’Hara’s defense completely disrupted Central York’s early flow and created 16 turnovers on the night. In addition to Rullo and Quinn, Carly Coleman, who fouled out in the fourth quarter, emerged as a stopper on defense along with Greta Miller and Dawson, who had three steals. Bridgid MacGillivray and Megan Rullo (three points, two assists, two steals) played well off the bench.
The Lions are back in the PIAA semifinal round for a third straight year. After winning the Class 5A championship in each of the previous two seasons, O’Hara became a Class 6A program for the 2022-23 campaign.
O’Hara defeated Archbishop Carroll, 40-36, in the regular season. The Lions rallied from a 15-0, second-quarter deficit at home to take the win.
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