TOWAMENCIN >> The mask was off and Teya McConnaha was on for the Souderton girls basketball team Tuesday night.
No longer wearing the facemask to protect the broken nose suffered against Georgia’s Galloway School at the Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational Dec. 31, McConnaha provided the Indians an early offensive spark, scoring the last eight points of the first quarter to give them a 12-6 lead over host North Penn.
“I just felt free,” McConnaha said. “We actually, my Dad and I, watched the Luella game before this game to get me some inspiration to make sure I know how to play again without my mask on.”
The senior continued providing her usual stellar work on the interior, posting another double-double for Big Red, scoring a game-high 24 points and grabbing 14 rebounds as Souderton held off the Knights before pulling away in the fourth for a 45-35 SOL Colonial Division victory.
“It seems like tonight, every single one of her shots was contested and she found a way to finish,” said Souderton coach Lynn Carroll of McConnaha, who also collected two steals and a block. “And we’re doing a good job of getting her the ball in there. But she treats every shot like a pass and goes after it and is willing to sacrifice her body and maybe get hit in the face and it would hurt extremely bad if it would happen but she’s willing to do it.
“I mean, she’s as tough as they come. She earns everything she gets. Some of her finishes are really tough but she consistently makes them.”
Casey Harter added 12 points,seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks for the Indians (17-3, 13-1 division), who finished the night with their second straight outright SOL Colonial championship. The win over North Penn clinched at least a share of the title with Pennridge’s 47-38 victory over second-place Central Bucks East clinching the solo crown for Big Red.
Souderton, which has won its last three and is fourth in the District 1-6A rankings, hosts CB East 6:30 p.m. Friday then caps its regular season at home against Central Bucks West Tuesday.
“We’re happy with where we are and the fact that our girls clinched at least a share with two games to go just speaks volumes about the season that they’re having,” Carroll said. “But the most important thing is the next game. Whether it’s for a share of the conference or no matter, we get two more that count towards districts and they’re both important ones.
“So I think regardless, Friday’s a big one. It’ll be Senior Night for us. We didn’t play well the first time we played them so I think we’ll have plenty of reasons to be motivated and play well.”
Caleigh Sperling paced North Penn (10-10, 9-6) with 13 points, nine of those coming in the second quarter. Liv Stone scored eight of her 10 points after halftime.
The Knights, who have lost two straight and four of their last five, sit 22nd in the district 6A rankings with 24 teams making the playoff field. North Penn hosts Central Bucks South 7 p.m. Friday then visits CB East 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“North Penn is playing very well, they would not go away,” Carroll said. “We would stretch it to 10, next thing you know it’s a two-possession game again. And they have kids that have been hitting shots for them all year. But I thought we defended individually very well.
“And I said to Caleigh Sperling after the game I don’t know how you do it. She just finds a way to score in impossible situations, seemingly impossible situations, and against a high-level defender in Casey. And what that kid is able to do offensively is special, she really helped to keep them in it. But even with that, I thought our defense was very good.”
McConnaha scored nine of Souderton’s 16 points in the fourth, which began with the Indians holding just a 29-25 lead. Fenchel, however, connected on the Indians’ only 3-pointer while McConnaha followed with a 3-point for a 35-25 lead.
Another McConnaha basket had Big Red ahead by a dozen before a Stone three then two Sperling free throws pulled North Penn within 37-30 with 3:39 remaining.
After a Harter bucket, Plaugher hit a three to make it 39-33 but a McConnaha put the Indians up seven with a putback.
“I’m aggressive, I want the ball,” McConnaha said. “It’s not like ‘Oh there’s the ball, maybe I should grab it,’ it’s like ‘I’m getting that ball, that ball’s going to be mine.’ I’m going to end up with it.”
Consecutive baskets from Harter and McConnaha pushed the Indians’ lead back to 12 at 45-33.
“There were spurts of great defense and long stretches of great defense and I don’t think too many of their looks were easy ones,” Carroll said. “I think most of their looks were contested. I always want things to be perfect but perfection is not possible. But our kids for the most part deserve a lot of credit for the 32 minutes, all 32 minutes of defense.”
After an Abby Plaugher 3-pointer made it 6-4 Knights in the first quarter, McConnaha tied the game scoring inside and drawing the foul at 2:41 then put Souderton up for good by converting on a scooping shot. Another basket then two more in transition late in the quarter made it an 8-0 personal run and a 12-6 edge for the visitors.
“I was like OK I need to start shooting some shots, making some shots,” McConnaha said. “Basso that was pretty much my mindset for the first quarter, first half just get in there, battle and get the shot up.”
Baskets from Stone and Sperling had the Knights within 12-8 before Harter and Fenchel scored on drives to put the Indians back up six. A Grace McDonough bucket had Souderton leading 22-14 but Sperling’s 3-point play with 27.8 seconds left had North Penn down 22-17 at halftime.
Souderton collected five of the third’s first six points, McConnaha scoring off an offensive rebound for a 27-18 advantage. A Stone trey then a Sperling basket made it 27-23 before Harter drove for two. Stone’s jumper had the margin at 29-25 entering the fourth.
Souderton 45, North Penn 35
Souderton 12 10 7 16 – 45
North Penn 6 11 8 10 – 35
Souderton: Teya McConnaha 11 2-4 24; Casey Harter 6 0-0 12; Brooke Fenchel 2 0-0 5; Erin Bohmueller 0 2-3 2; Grace McDonough 1 0-0 2; Totals 20 4-8 45.
North Penn: Caleigh Sperling 4 5-5 13; Liv Stone 4 0-0 10; Abby Plaugher 2 3-4 9, Kelly Donnelly 1 0-0 3; Totals 11 8-9 35.
3-pointers: S-Fenchel; NP-Plaugher 2, Stone 2, Donnelly.