PHILADELPHIA >> If it were up to Megan O’Donnell, she’d never come out of a basketball game.
The Souderton senior point guard is almost always the smallest player on the court but she plays with the energy of three players. O’Donnell’s willingness to go every possible second if needed is born of a competitive drive that’s made her a varsity contributor the last two years and a starter this year.
It’s her last season of competitive basketball and playing it out with her best friends, O’Donnell wants to get as much out of it as she can.
“I’ve been playing basketball since I was little and I’m not playing college so this is my last season playing,” O’Donnell said. “Anything I can do to get out on the court and play with my team, that’s what I’m trying to finish out the season doing.”
On Sunday, O’Donnell and her teammates ran off their 10th straight win, moving them to 11-1 on the season. After winning the District I 6A title and making the state semifinals last year, the Indians graduated four of their top eight players, three of them starters.
With all four of those players moving on to college, it seemed reasonable to think the Indians would take a step back. While they don’t have a star player, O’Donnell and her teammates are an extremenly well-balanced group that’s putting their years of playing together to good use.
“I don’t think any of us expected our season to turn out and be this good but I’m happy to start and help my team,” O’Donnell said after the Indians topped Springside Chestnut Hill 60-34 at the Play-By-Play Maggie Lucas Classic. “I like to pass and give assists, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Sunday, O’Donnell scored just four points but she put a big imprint on the game with seven rebounds and seven assists. In many ways, she’s following right in the footsteps of Tori Dowd, the player she backed up the last two years.
Dowd, now at Muhlenberg, also rarely came out of games, was a relentless defender and chalked up plenty of rebounds, assists and steals for Souderton. O’Donnell is a bit more potent offensively, routinely scoring between six to eight points per game but pointed to her practice battles with Dowd as a big help this season.
During her sophomore year, O’Donnell made a couple spot starts while Dowd was injured and that experience, plus her time backing up Dowd last year, has also proved invaluable.
“We got to play against each other in practice since my freshman year so I got a lot of my defense and offense from her,” O’Donnell said.
Souderton’s roster has a lot of continuity. O’Donnell is one of four senior starters, along with Megan Walbrandt, Megan Bealer and Curran O’Donnell and they, along with junior Mikaela Reese and senior Erica Stephens have been teammates and friends for years.
“All of our starters play on the AAU team, so we gelled really well and the contributions we get off the bench just push us,” O’Donnell said. “We’re best friends on and off the court so anything to keep this season going as far as we can take it is what we’re going to do.”
O’Donnell said she’s playing with a lot more confidence this year and feels her teammates and coaches are more confident in her as well. She’s comfortable taking shots as much as she is setting up the offense and she takes a lot of pride in being able to push the ball up the floor and make a dish for an easy layup.
“We’re officially past the midway point, so it means we’re going to replay teams but we just want to keep getting wins and see how far we can go in the postseason,” O’Donnell said. “So, stay tuned.”
While she hides it very well, O’Donnell confessed she actually does get tired. For the first time she could remember, she did ask for a sub in Thursday’s win over Neshaminy but usually, the senior just powers through the heavy legs and fatigue.
It just means that much to her.
“I feel it at least once a game,” O’Donnell said. “When that happens, I tell myself I’d rather be tired and playing than sitting on the bench.”
BIRDS OF A RED FEATHER
The Upper Dublin boys basketball team turned in a solid weekend in its home gym, topping Wissahickon on Friday night and Upper Merion on Saturday night.
As of Monday morning, the Flying Cardinals were 16th in the District I 6A power rankings with an 8-5 record. Friday’s win over Wissahickon was a big one for UD, as the Trojans had owned the backyard rivalry the past few seasons.
Second year head coach Chris Monahan has a solid, well-balanced squad that relies on numerous contributors with many of them multi-sport athletes. Corby Watkins, Drew Stover, Jason Williams, Brian Klammer and Bazel Brady make up the starting five while Micah Bootman, Mike Slivka and Cory Ladov play key roles off the bench.
It’s also a relatively young group, with Watkins and Klammer the only seniors in the starting group.
Upper Dublin’s been especially good at home. The Cardinals are 4-1 in their gym with the only loss coming to Abington and their current district ranking would give them a first round home date, although there’s still a lot of season left.
GA junior Elle Stauffer has been on a tear in January.
In six games this month, Stauffer has scored exactly 100 points, good for a 16.6 points per game average. After an eight-point outing to start the Patriots’ run to the SugarBowl National Prep Classic title in New Orleans, Stauffer has scored in double-digits in five straight games.
Stauffer, who gave a verbal commitment to Harvard before the season, has expanded her offensive game this year and has shown shooting range out to the 3-point line to mesh with her athleticism.
After a slow start Sunday, Stauffer battled through a physical Archbishop Wood defense to net 14 points in GA’s 51-44 victory.
DIXON CLOSING ON MILESTONE
Abington senior Eric Dixon is range of yet another scoring milestone.
The Villanova recruit has been simply dominant this season, scoring single digits just one time for the 10-1 Ghosts. After Friday’s 73-48 win over Hatboro-Horsham, where he had 35 points, Dixon stands at 1,920 career points.
Already the school’s all-time leading scorer, a mark he set the first weekend of the season, Dixon is close to becoming Abington’s first 2,000-point scorer.
The Ghosts, who are 6-0 in the SOL American, host Cheltenham, also 6-0 in the American for their first meeting this season Tuesday night.
Four area teams still carry unblemished records as the midway point of January approaches.
La Salle is last remaining boys team to be undefeated as the Explorers stand 13-0 and 6-0 in the PCL.
St Basil Academy now stands at 14-0 entering the week. The Panthers, who also lead the AACA have three league games this week with a home date against Villa Joseph Marie, a visit to Mount Saint Joseph and a pivotal home game Saturday agaiant Villa Maria.
St Basil edged Villa Maria 48-46 in the team’s first meeting on Dec. 15, the closest game the Panthers have played this season.
Jenkintown, the defending Class A girls’ basketball state champion, is also perfect at 15-0. The Drakes, with just two seniors on the roster, also won the BAL and District I titles last season.
Following their rally on Sunday, the Germantown Academy girls basketball team is 16-0. The Patiots, 3-0 in the Inter-Ac, have league games against Agnes Irwin Tuesday and Springside Chestnut Hill Thursday before a home showdown with Miami Country Day School, the No. 2 team in the country according to USA Today, at 5 pm Friday.