FRANCONIA >> A fast start and a strong finish helped the Lansdale Catholic girls basketball team to a season-opening win over host Souderton Friday at Jim Church Classic.
The Crusaders jumped out to a 21-6 lead early in the second quarter but the Indians fought back to pull even by the third. But Lauren Edwards and Gabby Casey provided key baskets in the fourth as the Crusaders ended the contest with a 23-8 run to pull away for a 61-46 victory.
“It really showed who we are and who we can fight back,” Casey said. “And even just keep fighting through all the adversity and everything. And it really helped us from having a bad season last year – well not a bad season but not as good of a season as we hoped. Really this is pushing us and getting us motivated for the oncoming games.
Casey scored 14 of her team-high 21 points in the fourth – going 9-of-12 from the line in the final period – while Olivia Boccella ignited LC early with a trio of first-quarter 3-pointers, hitting a total of four from beyond the arc as the sophomore finished with 13 points.
LC (1-0) advances to face the winner of West Chester Rustin or Abington Heights in the championship game 3 p.m. Saturday.
Edwards chipped in all seven of her points in the fourth, including the first five of 13-0 Crusaders run after Souderton knotted things at 38 off a Teya McConnaha basket.
“At this time year because we have so many new pieces it was a matter of trying to find who gels,” LC coach Eric Gidney said. “So that then lineup of Lauren, Gabby, Liv but also Saniyah (Littlejohn) and also with Sam (McHugh), that lineup which I think was the one which ended the game other than me subbing Nadia in, that lineup was really kind of what sparked us too. Not any one player but those five players they really played well together in those core minutes, those tough minutes.”
McConnaha scored a game-high 22 points for Souderton (0-1), collected 12 of the Big Red’s 17 first half points and recording the Indians first eight of the fourth before picking up her fourth foul with 4:28 in regulation. She eventually fouled out with 2:41 left.
Edwards hit both ends of a one-and-one for a 40-38 LC then then converted a three-point play off a baseline drive to make it 43-38 with 3:51.
Casey drained a three while McHugh’s three-point play off a putback had the Crusaders up 11 with 2:41 remaining. Littlejohn’s basket off a steal made it 51-38.
Souderton could only cut the deficit down to nine, the last time at 55-46 on a Mikayla McGillian three-point play at 1:11.
“Offensively I think we missed a couple easy ones – they play in your face, intense, aggressive defense,” Souderton coach Lynn Carroll said. “They have athleticism and speed and quickness but what you saw that changed in the second half was that we just said go out and play basketball. We’re not running anything, stop thinking so much, use your instincts. And obviously you see how that went.”
Casey Harter chipped in 11 points for Souderton, which plays the West Chester Rustin/Abington Heights loser in the consolation noon Saturday.
The Indians grabbed a quick 2-0 lead off the tip on a Harter basket but the Crusaders proceeded to score 15 of the next 17 points, Boccella draining her third triple of the contest for a 15-4 advantage before a McConnaha putback made it 15-6 at the end of the first quarter.
“Once one goes in then I have a flow and it feels great,” Boccella said. “And I know my team has a flow too right when I do.”
The Crusaders scored the first six points of the second quarter to go up 21-6 on a Littlejohn basket but Boccella had to go to the bench after picking up a third foul at 5:21 and LC began to lose its offensive rhythm.
McConnaha knocked down six free throws to start an 11-1 Souderton run that pulled the Indians to within 22-17 after a Harter three-point play at 1:21. However, Ali Johns scored off a Littlejohn assist following by Casey beating the buzzer to give the Crusaders a 26-17 halftime lead.
The Indians began the third with a 7-0 run then tied the game for the first time since 2-2 in the first quarter when a McConnaha bucket made it 28-28. Big Red was even again at 30 but Boccella connected on a three to send LC into the fourth up 33-30.
Souderton twice tied the game in the fourth, the second and last time after two from McConnaha made it 38-38. But five straight from Edwards kick-started the 13-0 run that allowed LC to pull away.