Berwyn – Injuries are part of the game and how your team deals with them can either make or break your season.
For the second consecutive season, the Conestoga High School girls’ basketball team has had to deal with the loss of a key player in their rotation. Last year it was all-Central League standout Ellie Mack and just last week Conestoga head coach Chris Jeffries learned he would be without the services of Emma Powell for the remainder of the season.
Tuesday evening, Conestoga took the court against visiting Harriton in a pivotal Central League match-up. After building an early 16-3 lead, the Pioneers had to fend off a furious second half charge to earn a hard-fought 41-35 win.
“Injuries are part of the game,” said Jeffries, who is in his second year at the helm. “We have always stressed the Next Man Up mentality and it’s comforting to know I have players I can turn to.”
Conestoga junior captain Liz Scott, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds said, “Injuries happen. They happen all the time and they may happen to each of us during our high school or college career. The important thing is getting by that. None of us are scared of getting hurt. If we take the floor scared of getting hurt we are going to play timid. We just need to play hard and play with confidence.”
Mack, a Bucknell recruit who finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, added, “I learned so much last season while I was injured. It taught me about being a good teammate and supporting everyone. Everyone of the girls on this team works hard and is prepared to play at any time.”
Despite Conestoga holding a 19-10 lead, Jeffries knew it was only a matter of time before Harriton made its run.
“Harriton is a well-coached team that struggled in the first half,” said Jeffries. “They have a lot of talent and we were just hoping we could weather the storm.”
With 5:40 remaining, Harriton knotted the contest at 29-29 when Ram junior Sophie Grady took the pass from Alana Swift and converted the lay-up. With experienced players on the floor, the hosts came right back to push the lead to 33-29, thanks to buckets from Lindsay Erickson and Mack.
With time running down and Harriton being forced to foul, Conestoga hoped its time shooting foul shots in practice would pay off. Holding a slim 33-30 lead, the hosts shot 6-for-7 down the stretch from the charity stripe to close out the game. For the game Conestoga shot 13-for-15 from the line.
“You have to protect your home floor,” said Jeffries. “We have not lost at home yet and we know there are many good teams in this league and you can’t have a bad night. When you do you have to have something to fall back on. Usually it’s our senior leadership but tonight it was our foul shooting. This win is a testament to the program and how hard the girls work every day.”