Marple Township >> Villa Maria Academy earned a 56-44 win against a tall, athletic Mastery Charter North squad Wednesday in the second round of the PIAA 5A girls basketball state tournament at Cardinal O’Hara High School, and the Hurricanes seem to be gathering momentum at just the right time.
“We showed a lot of poise at the end of the game,” said Villa Maria head coach Kathy McCartney. “I said to the kids, ‘If this had been a game in December, we would have lost this game – we would have turned it over, we would have missed some foul shots. We’ve shown a ton of growth and a ton of maturity as a team this season. They’re a different group now than they were three months ago, which is awesome.”
With the win against District 12 runnerup Mastery Charter North, the Hurricanes (19-8) advance to the state quarterfinals to play District 3 third-place finisher Mechanicsburg. The game is slated for Saturday, pending any rescheduling due to the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic.
McCartney said, “I’m going to enjoy the heck out of this win, this was a heck of a win for my kids. We knew rebounding was going to be a key. Mastery was bigger than us, more athletic than us, and we kept them off the glass, which was the difference in the game.”
The Hurricanes trailed Mastery 11-10 at the end of the first quarter, but a scoring spurt by Maddy Ryan (six second-quarter points) helped put Villa Maria ahead for good.
In the second half, Villa Maria outscored Mastery 32-24. Three times in the third quarter, Warley adroitly worked her way underneath for baskets, the third one giving the Hurricanes a 41-30 lead.
“Morgan Warley really took the game over in the third quarter,” said McCartney. “Morgan decided to get to the basket; she had some tough shots in the paint, made some foul shots, she was the difference in the game tonight.”
Warley said, “The third quarter [used to be] our toughest quarter because we would kind of lose focus at halftime, but I think over the season we’ve really worked on it and become more mature, so I think this game really showed how much we’ve developed throughout the season.”
In the crucial fourth quarter, Warley went 4-for-5 from the free throw line and finished with 16 points, 12 of them after halftime.
Warley was asked about the open looks the Hurricanes occasionally were getting on offense Wednesday.
“We definitely worked really hard on kicking the ball out fast,” responded Warley. “I think it goes along with being mature, and knowing one another’s strengths and weaknesses, so I think we’re all coming together.”
Villa Maria kept Mastery’s offense at bay with some sharp defensive rebounding that often limited the Pumas to one shot per trip downcourt.
“I fell that our rebounding was key today.” said Warley. “Maddy Ryan and Jackie Ford do an awesome job making sure we get the rebounds.”
Ryan, who scored 12 points Wednesday, said, “We knew [Mastery] was going to crash the boards, so we needed to box out and I think we did a good job. I thought we had a lot of buckets on offensive rebounds, which was huge.”
The Hurricanes outrebounded Mastery 29-20, with Ryan grabbing nine rebounds and Ford eight boards.
In the second half, Carina Chieffalo tallied six points (including the Hurricanes’ only trey), and Myla Warley went 5-for-6 from the free throw line. Myla Warley finished with nine points, as did Faith Iacone, whose late second-quarter scoring and rebounding underneath helped give the Hurricanes a 24-20 lead going into halftime.
“We got a big day off the bench from Faith,” said McCartney. “Caroline Kirby came in and did a nice job. They don’t have to do Wonder Woman things off the bench, they just have to come in and keep the game going. They were phenomenal off the bench today.”
In the fourth quarter, Mastery got no closer than seven points against the state tournament-tested Hurricanes.
“We’ve been in the state tournament pretty regularly, so our kids have some experience,” said McCartney. “Even my young kids on the bench, I said to them [tonight], ‘Do you feel what this is like, do you see how fun this is?’ They’re all excited, this is good.
“This was a great win. … Now there’s eight teams left in this state [in 5A girls basketball]. We’re so happy about tonight.”
Villa Maria 56, Mastery Charter North 44
Villa Maria 10 14 17 15 – 56
Mastery Charter North 11 9 12 12 – 44
Villa Maria (56): F. Iacone 4 1-2 9, Ford 2 0-0 4, Morgan Warley 6 4-5 16, Ryan 4 4-4 12, Myla Warley 1 7-10 9, Kirby 0 0-0 0, Chieffalo 2 1-2 6, Totals 19 17-23 56.
Mastery Chrater North (44): Robinson 4 3-6 12, Kane 1 0-0 2, Henderson 1 0-3 2, Thompson 1 2-4 4, Thompson-King 0 0-0 0, Sanders 7 2-5 17, Eldridge 2 2-2 7, Totals 16 9-20 44.
3-point field goals: VMA – Chieffalo. MCN – Robinson, Sanders, Eldridge.