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Boccella hits 8 3-pointers, Lansdale Catholic cruises past Conwell-Egan

Lansdale Catholic's Olivia Boccella hit eight 3-pointers to score a game-high 24 points in the Crusaders' win over Conwell-Egan on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

LANSDALE >> Not that anyone needed a reminder who had the hot hand from long range Tuesday night, but the Lansdale Catholic student section made sure to point towards Olivia Boccella as Gabby Casey drove baseline late in the third quarter.

Casey obliged, delivering a pass to Boccella – the sophomore eluding a Conwell-Egan defender then from the left wing drained her eighth 3-pointer of the Philadelphia Catholic League girls basketball contest to the delight of the LC faithful.

“It was great,” Boccella said. “We haven’t really had student sections cause of COVID and this is like one of the first ones so it felt so good.”

The three capped a quarter that saw the Crusaders outscore the visiting Eagles 24-7, extending a 36-20 halftime lead into a 33-point advantage as Lansdale Catholic cruised past Conwell-Egan 68-37.

“I think one of our most connections is when I drive baseline and she’s there and I kick it out to her,” Casey said. “And normally she drills it every time which is just great cause then I can just run back on defense. But just to see the student section hyping her up it was just awesome cause she was so happy tonight and I’m really happy for her.”

Boccella’s first 3-pointer in the opening quarter gave LC the lead for good as she did all of her scoring from beyond the arc, finishing with a game-high 24 points as the Crusaders (13-3, 6-0 league) claimed a fourth straight win and their ninth victory in their past 10 games.

“I feel like during warmups I definitely went really hard and then I just had a good feeling every time I shot it,” Boccella said.

Boccella buried a pair of treys in the first quarter, made a trio during an 18-4 LC run in the second quarter then knocked down her final three in the third.

“She’s shooting from 25, 26-feet out, healthy,” Crusaders coach Eric Gidney said. “Adding that dribble, adding that crossover before she was more just sort or a stand-still, spot-up (shooter) but now she has it in her bag where she could actually put the ball on the floor and if she can’t get around she’ll just shoot the three over you.”

Gidney mentioned Boccella was “in a little bit of a mini-slump” but said the sophomore didn’t need much to get back into rhythm from deep.

“We’ve always had sort of a shooter’s mentality with the way we coached, too – next one, next shot, next shot,” he said. “So we’ve never really talked to her about it but I think that’s just something you don’t want to do to a shooter. But to see her break out of that funk tonight it was pretty much well-needed.

“And I think it was a compliment to how well we were attacking the basket and they were collapsing and then she was, I mean for some of those she almost had all day to put those shots up.”

Casey added 22 points while Sanyiah Littlejohn collected nine of her 11 points in the third. LC is one of two unbeaten sides left in Catholic League play, joining Archbishop Carroll, which moved to 7-0 by handing Cardinal O’Hara its first league loss 49-39 Tuesday.

“I want to be careful as a coach, right, because I don’t want to necessarily give any of our opponents locker-room talk but we’ve worked really hard for this opportunity and to be in the conversation,” Gidney said. “The big thing for me is we were 2-11 last year and we went through the Red Division and we lost and we learned and we’re applying that this season.”

The Crusaders finish the PCL regular season with a tough four-game stretch that starts 7 p.m. Thursday at O’Hara then home games with Neumann-Goretti Saturday, defending league champ Archbishop Wood Feb. 8 and Carroll Feb. 10.

“I feel like we just have something to prove,” Boccella said. “Because we had a bad record last year and these teams probably think we’re not as talented as them or because of our season last year but I think we can definitely give it to them.”

Mya Aizen had 11 points to pace Conwell-Egan (7-8, 3-4), which had a two-game win streak snapped. The Eagles host Archbishop Ryan 7 p.m. Thursday.

A Saniyah Spell free throw at 4:34 in the first quarter gave Egan its only lead at 3-2 but Boccella’s three off a Littlejohn assist and four straight points from Casey had LC up 9-3.

“I think with Liv hitting the outside shots it really opened up the middle for me,” Casey said. “So I just took it took them and hoped to get a foul or get to the foul line.”

Another Boccella trey made it 12-5 Crusaders before Molly Milewski’s 3-pointer had the Eagle within four. A Casey basket and Erin Clark’s free throw had LC leading 15-8 heading to the second quarter.

Up 19-9, the Crusaders proceeded to score the next 11 points. Casey got a shot to fall after a drive down the lane with the junior then connecting on a three. Back-to-back Boccella triples made it 30-9.

“I had said to the girls a couple times too like hey let’s not just settle for these shots,” Gidney said. “Yes they’re falling but sometimes as a team or an individual you can get greedy and start taking ones that you shouldn’t. There were a couple of them that as a coach I sort of scratch my head because they weren’t really within our offensive system but it makes it really easy when she (Boccella) goes I think 8-for-13 from the 3-point line. You kind of forgive that stuff pretty quick, right?”

A Boccella 3-pointer had LC again up 21 at 33-12 before an 8-0 Egan run – consecutive threes from Aizen and Kyliyah Carmichael and a basket inside from Lily Milewski had the Eagles within 33-20. But Cassidy Saulino’s jumper and a Casey free throw at 10.3 seconds had the Crusaders leading by 16 at halftime.

Lansdale Catholic scored eight straight points – the last four by Littlejohn – to begin the third with the hosts stretching the run to 19-2 after a Littlejohn three-point play made it 55-22. Boccella’s eighth and last three had LC leading 60-27 entering the fourth.

Lansdale Catholic 68, Conwell-Egan 37
Conwell-Egan 8 12 7 10 – 37
Lansdale Catholic 15 21 24 8 – 68
Conwell-Egan: Mya Aizen 3 4-6 11; Lily Milewski 4 0-0 9; Saniyah Spell 2 2-3 7; Kyliyah Carmichael 1 0-2 3; Molly Milewski 1 0-0 3; Sara Aschenbrenner 1 0-0 2; Brooke McFadden 1 0-0 2; Gianna Johnson 0 0-4 0; Totals 13 6-15 37.
Lansdale Catholic: Olivia Boccella 8 0-0 24; Gabby Casey 7 7-10 22; Sanyiah Littlejohn 4 3-3 11; Lauren Edwards 1 2-2 4; Cassidy Saulino 2 0-0 4; Erin Clark 1 1-3 3; Totals 23 13-18 68.
3-pointers: CE-Aizen, Carmichael, L, Milewski, M. Milewski, Spell; LC-Boccella 8, Casey.

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