MARPLE — Joanie Quinn sat on the bench with a blank stare and pondered how Cardinal O’Hara managed to find itself without a point after one quarter of play Thursday night.
Moments earlier, Archbishop Carroll’s Brooke Wilson made five free throws at the end of the period. She was fouled in the act of shooting, prompting a fierce rebuttal from O’Hara coach Chrissie Doogan. The officials didn’t appreciate her tone, so Doogan was whistled for a technical foul. That would explain Wilson’s five freebies to give Carroll a 15-point cushion.
Two days after the Lions were held to one point in the fourth quarter at Archbishop Wood, the O’Hara offense couldn’t escape the doldrums.
“In my head I was thinking, ‘I know we are better than this,'” said Quinn, the Lions’ fantastic junior point guard. “We are not losing this game and we’ve got to go show it.”
The Lions slowly chipped away at Carroll’s sizable advantage. When Quinn drilled a stepback 3-pointer as time expired in the third quarter, O’Hara trimmed its deficit to one point. Molly Rullo scored the go-ahead basket early in the fourth and O’Hara never looked back, earning an improbable 40-36 victory on a night the school raised awareness for pediatric cancer research.
O’Hara missed its first seven shots from the field and trailed 15-0 after eight minutes. The Patriots fed the ball inside to senior power forward Taylor Wilson and managed to exploit some other areas for easy baskets. Rullo, the All-Delco sophomore, was stymied in the first period as Carroll double teamed her every time she touched the ball. Eventually the Lions were able to create some space and get several good looks at the rim, and run the floor where Rullo was able to get a few easy looks beginning in the second period.
“After that (first quarter) we just realized we needed to wake up. We weren’t playing our game at all in the first quarter,” Rullo said. “I mean, everybody thinks that everyone’s trying to get me the ball, but everyone on our team does something that impacts the game in every way. So I think just being able to open everybody else up and then trusting them enough to knock down shots, which they did, helped us come back. And then… when we picked up our defense a little bit that helped a lot.”
O’Hara’s defense limited Carroll to only four attempts from the field in the third quarter. In the final stanza the Patriots turned the ball over four times and shot 3-for-9 from the floor.
“We just tried to remind them that there’s no such thing as a 15-point play,” Doogan said. “We went into chip away mode and it started on defense. I thought we did a really good job of playing defense. Give (Carroll coach) Renie (Shields) credit. They just ran stuff that we had trouble stopping. They knew we were going to switch and they posted up our little guards and it worked for a quarter. I thought our kids responded with a little toughness. That was big.”
Junior guard Carly Coleman was a big component to O’Hara’s surge on defense. She had a few deflections and grabbed some tough defensive rebounds in the third quarter. Coleman also scored a basket underneath to give the Lions a 31-28 lead early in the fourth.
Rullo came alive in the second half, particularly the fourth quarter when she scored nine of her team-high 17 points. She was clutch at the free-throw line down the stretch, going 7 of 8 in the final minutes.
“Molly’s going to have three people on her for the rest of the season,” Doogan said. “She knows that and we’re watching film and just trying to get her to stay composed. I thought she did a great job tonight.”
Quinn was the spark plug for the Lions (13-3, 5-1 Catholic League). She made her team’s first basket and drilled a 3-pointer to pull O’Hara within 12 points in the second quarter. In the third she hit a pair of treys and came away with a steal. Quinn finished with 12 points, three rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals.
“Once we got going, we couldn’t stop,” Quinn said. “There’s no such thing as a 12-point play, which our coach told us. We just knew we had to take it one possession at a time. … I think we showed tonight that our shots don’t always have to fall because we are always going to battle back and we have that intensity to want to win. We know that if we go out and play our hardest, the shots are eventually going to fall as long as we get stops on defense. That’s all we can ask for and sometimes it just takes a little bit of luck.”
Brooke Wilson was outstanding before fouling out late in the game. She scored a game-high 18 points and pulled down six rebounds for the Patriots (8-11, 5-2). Her sister Taylor added 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists.