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Cassidy, Episcopal Academy courteously off to a winning start

Episcopal Academy's Riley Cassidy poured in 24 points in a 49-22 win over Marple Newtown Friday. (PETE BANNAN/MEDIANEWS GROUP)

NEWTOWN SQUARE — It was a simple gesture, but not something you see everyday from high school athletes.

Moments after Episcopal Academy’s Riley Cassidy led her team to a 49-22 victory over Marple Newtown Friday, the senior guard went over to every official and gave them a fist-bump.

Cassidy’s courteousness has been part of her basketball routine ever since she was a little kid.

“My CYO coach encouraged it,” she said. “You know, just to thank the refs and be respectful. They’re taking their time to come out and officiate, and it’s something I like to do.”

Cassidy likely made the officials’ jobs easier. Whenever she had the ball, it seemed, she swished baskets. In the fourth quarter alone, Cassidy drilled four 3-point field goals and scored 13 of Episcopal’s 18 points. Overall, Cassidy netted 24 points on 8-for-16 shooting from the field for the Churchwomen (2-0).

“At halftime my coaches gave me some advice and that was to just catch and shoot,” Cassidy said. “That’s kind of what I was rolling with and my shot was falling, so I just kept shooting.”

Senior point guard Bella Piselli, who is a three-sport captain at Episcopal, assisted on four of Cassidy’s buckets. As Cassidy was heating up, Piselli knew she had to keep feeding her the ball.

“Riley was working her butt off to get open, so as long as I got her the ball I knew it was going in,” said Piselli, who finished with three points, six assists, four rebounds and one steal. “That really worked for us in the last quarter, especially. As a point guard, that’s what we look for if it’s there.”

Episcopal Academy point guard Bella Piselli dishes a pass in Friday’s game with Marple Newtown.

Cassidy is one of the top guards in the Inter-Ac League this season. She had missed a large portion of her sophomore year due to illness and played only nine games with her teammates in a pandemic-shortened season. After posting a 4-5 record last winter, EA’s seniors are basically trying to make up for lost time.

“It definitely feels new to us,” Cassidy said. “And after last year, there’s definitely a feeling of unfinished business. I feel as though this year we are really underrated and we’re out here to prove ourselves. Knowing the potential that we have, and knowing that we can hang in against some of these really good teams and that we can potentially beat them. I can speak for the both of us that, in these past four years, we have been in a lot of close games, but we haven’t been able to execute when it really mattered. I think this is our year for that.”

Episcopal showed Friday that it can be a dangerous team. In addition to Piselli and Cassidy, junior power forward Gaeli Keffer-Scharpf produced nine points, five rebounds and one steal. Senior guard Amanda Purcell had a solid all-around floor game with three points, five assists, one steal and a blocked shot.

“One of the big things coming into the season, especially with new faces on the team and not being able to play with the sophomores as much, that as seniors we have to lead and come out ready to play and ready to prove how good we are,” Piselli said. “Last year, we didn’t really get the opportunity, but we’re excited to prove what we can do this year.”

Episcopal Academy’s Gaeli Keffer-Schrapf goes up for a shot as Marple Newtown’s Brooke Impriano , 34, defends. (PETE BANNAN/MEDIANEWS GROUP)

For the second year in a row the Inter-Ac League will play with a 30-second shot clock. This was a new experience for Marple Newtown, but the Tigers seemed to adapt fairly well. Only twice were they called for a shot clock violation.

“(The shot clock) will affect the final three or four minutes of a game if, for example, a team has a seven-point lead and they’re trying to run the clock out. Now you’ve got to keep playing and I think it’s a good thing for the game,” EA coach Chuck Simmonds said. “Another thing, too, is that the players who are better, it will allow them to showcase a little bit of what they work for. There’s also (an urgency) to run plays and score the basketball and just play the game. I think it makes the game more fun to watch.”

Episcopal was in control from the opening tip and outscored the Marple, 12-0, in the first quarter. While the Tigers kicked off the rust in the second and third quarters, they were unable to pull within single digits of the Churchwomen. Brooke Impriano had a solid game with seven points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. Nikki Mostardi led all Tigers with nine points and Molly O’Brien played well at the point.

Marple Newtown’s Mary O’Brien goes in for a basket as Episcopal Academy’s Bella Piselli hits the floor. (PETE BANNAN/MEDIANEWS GROUP)

Impriano was back in action after missing the second half of the 2021 season because of injury. Last year’s top scorer, senior Haley Levy, was playing in her first game after major surgery in the offseason and had to exit after two quarters.

The Tigers have what it takes to compete in a wide-open Central League, but as Friday showed, there will be growing pains along the way. Marple shot 7-for-35 from the floor and 6-for-16 from the free-throw line.

“This starting five doesn’t have a whole lot of time playing together, but we’ll get there,” Marple coach Ryan Wolski said. “Tonight we couldn’t hit our shots and we fell behind early. Once we start to gel a little bit, we’ll be fine.”

—————————————————–

Episcopal Academy 49, Marple Newtown 22

 
Episcopal Academy: Cassidy 8-16 3-4 24, Piselli 0-2 3-4 3, Keffer-Scharpf 3-5 3-3 9, Magnotta 1-9 0-0 3, Purcell 1-5 1-2 3, Dennis 1-4 0-0 2, Moore 1-3 0-0 2, Beaulieu 0-1 0-0 0, Thibodeau 0-0 0-0 0, Legette 0-1 0-0 0, Hammond 1-1 0-0 3; Totals:16-47 10-13 49.
Marple Newtown: Levy 0-5 1-4 1, Impriano 2-8 2-5 7, DiBona 1-6 0-0 3, Mostardi 3-13 3-5 9, O’Brien 1-3 0-2 2, Gries 0-0 0-0 0, Kirby 0-0 0-0 0, Coary 0-0 0-0 0; Totals: 7-35 6-16 22.
 
Marple Newtown 0 5 13 9 – 22
Episcopal Academy 12 10 9 18 – 49
 
3-point field goals: Marple Newtown 2-11 (Impriano 1-1, DiBona 1-2, Levy 0-1, O’Brien 0-2, Mostardi 0-5) Episcopal Academy 7-17 (Cassidy 5-7, Hammond 1-1, Magnotta 1-4, Legette 0-1, Purcell 0-3); Fouled out: None; Rebounds: Marple Newtown 17 (Impriano 10), Episcopal Academy 33 (Cassidy 8); Assists: Marple Newtown 2 (Impriano 2), Episcopal Academy 15 (Piselli 6); Steals: Marple Newtown 8 (O’Brien 4), Episcopal Academy 10 (Cassidy, Keffer-Scharpf 2); Total fouls: Marple Newtown 15, Episcopal Academy 13; Turnovers: Marple Newtown 22, Episcopal Academy 17; Technical fouls: None.

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