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Central Bucks West defense stifles Unionville to advance in districts

EAST MARLBOROUGH >> A stifling defense is key to winning plenty of basketball games. But it’s a necessity when it comes to playoff contests, where everything is magnified to the nth degree.

Wednesday night at Unionville in the District 1 Class 6A Round of 16, 10th-seeded Central Bucks West put on a defensive clinic with varying zone defenses and eliminated seventh-seeded Unionville, 50-29.

Central Bucks West now moves on to play second-seeded Plymouth-Whitemarsh on Saturday.

Wednesday night, the Bucks (12-5) came out on fire, outscoring the Longhorns, 14-5, in the first quarter. Unionville shot just two for 12 in the opening frame on its way to a very cold seven for 32 shooting night from the field, and it led to the end of the season for the Longhorns (7-3).

“Our defense had a lot of energy tonight,” said CB West coach Zach Sibel. “That was our main focus in practice this week. We did everything fast. We even cut practice short a half hour yesterday and kept the pace up all day. And after a long bus ride out here, we wanted to show energy early and take some things they do well away. Unionville has some real good athletes and they played very hard.”

The Bucks jumped out to the big early lead on the strength of inside baskets from Emily Spratt, who led all scorers with 17 points to go along with nine rebounds. Spratt was clearly the best player on the floor Wednesday night. Anna Blue hit two of her three 3-pointers in the first quarter and Unionville had an uphill climb heading into the second. The Bucks shot five for eight in the first period, including two of their six threes on the night.

But, the Longhorns outscored the Bucks, 12-9, in the second quarter and trailed just 34-25 at the break. But, CB West came out on fire in the third quarter. Blue drained a corner three for a 28-19 Bucks lead. After a Unionville miss, Katie Finnan scored on a driving layup and it was suddenly a 30-19 Bucks advantage.

Unionville came back with a Samantha Lang basket inside, but from then on it was all Bucks. Ava Longo scored on a runout after a Unionville turnover, one of six Longhorns giveaways in the third quarter.

“We always set a goal to come out and play with energy in the first and third quarters,” Spratt said. “And tonight we really did a good job of doing that. It helped us get comfortable. And our defense was very good. We wanted to stop No. 13 (Emma Dempsey) and No. 5 (Milani Amoss). And our zone gave them problems. We really came out in the third quarter and put some distance between us and them after not playing that well in the second.”

After Riley Angstadt hit two free throws for Unionville to start the fourth quarter, CB West went on a roll. Spratt scored on a run out and that was followed by a Spratt basket and foul and a Paige Gilbert basket inside, and the Bucks outscored Unionville, 16-4, in the quarter with the Longhorns shooting zero for eight in the fourth.

“We have not been a real good outside shooting team this year,” said Unionville coach Fred Ellzy. “We like to attack the basket and penetrate and somehow we got away from that tonight. But this is a good group of girls and they will be back.”

CB West 50, Unionville 29

CB WEST (50): Henkels 1 0-0 3, Finnan 3 0-0 8, Blue 30-0 9, Spratt 7 3-4 17, Longo 2 0-0 4, Gilbert 3 0-1 6, MCCuskert 1 0-0 3. Totals 19 3-5 50.

UNIONVILLE (29): Amoss 1 2-3 4, Lang 2 2-2 6, Dempsey 2 0-0 5, Robbins 1 0-3 2, Budow 0 4-5 4, West 0 2-2 2, Angstadt 1 4-4 6. Totals 7 14-19-29.

Central Bucks West 14 9 11 16 – 50

Unionville 5 12 8 4 – 29

3-point goals: Blue 3, Finnan 2, Gilbert, Dempsey.

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