UPPER DARBY — Bonner-Prendergast senior guard Alyssa Monaghan was under the weather Wednesday night.
That didn’t stop her from being awesome.
The two-time All-Delco had arguably the greatest game of her amazing high school career. She poured in 35 points, pulled down six rebounds, handed out five assists and came away with two steals in dominating, 75-57 victory over Cardinal O’Hara.
It was B-P’s first win against the Lions since the 2001 Catholic League final. The win enabled the Pandas (13-8) to lock up the No. 3 seed in the Catholic League playoffs. They will host Archbishop Ryan Friday night at 7. Meanwhile, O’Hara (18-4) finished an incredible regular season with back-to-back losses. The Lions will host Archbishop Carroll Friday night.
Monaghan wanted to win this pretty badly. It was her chance to steal the show on her home floor, and she did just that with an assortment of knee-buckling pivot moves, long-distance shots and drives to the basket, the sort of performance that would make LeBron James blush.
“It was the perfect opportunity, I think, and it’s just a great feeling to beat O’Hara,’ said Monaghan, who played her freshman year with the Lions before transferring to Prendie alongside her big sister, Sarah.
Monaghan blew up in the second quarter, scoring 14 points. She helped fuel a stunning first-quarter run that continued into the second stanza. Before Monaghan heated up, the Pandas relied heavily on 6-3 senior center Shalina Miller, who awarded the team with tremendous effort inside the paint. Miller, who is bound for La Salle, couldn’t be contained in the first quarter when she got 12 points and seven rebounds.
O’Hara couldn’t figure out what to do. Simply put, the Lions didn’t have the length to match up with Miller.
“We knew that we could dump it into the post because we definitely have a height advantage,’ said Miller, who was 6-for-6 from the floor in the opening quarter. “I first I was so nervous, but once I started going and making my layups, I was like ‘˜OK, I got this.’ It all worked out.’
Oh, yeah, it did. The Pandas, thanks in large part to Miller’s contributions, finished the first quarter on a staggering 21-2 run. The burst dripped over to the second period, when the Pandas scored the first eight points. Before Maura Hendrixson ended O’Hara’s drought, Bonner-Prendie had scored 21 unanswered points and 29 of 31 after the visiting Lions quickly scored the first five points in regulation.
Monaghan knew that Miller could be a major factor. Miller finished with 20 points and 17 rebounds, her third 20-point outing of the season.
“It’s hard for them to cover her because not only is she a lot taller than anyone they have, she’s a lot bigger muscle-wise,’ Monaghan said. “We just had to use her a lot and we did and she took advantage of it every time. She did a great job.’
Monaghan was 9-of-17 from the floor and Bonner-Prendie converted 59 percent of its field goals. Moreover, Monaghan was perfect from the free-throw line, going 13-for-13.
It’s been a tough-luck seasons for the Pandas, who’ve battled injuries and illness to key players, yet find a way to keep trudging along. Last week, senior guard Amber Ballinger went down with a season-ending knee injury. But coach Tom Stewart continues to put faith in his lesser-known players, including Lynette Laboy, who had seven of her eight points in the first half. Laboy was often left unattended in the corner and missed just one shot.
“Amber got hurt in the (Archbishop) Ryan game and it was tough. It’s just our luck, I guess,’ Monaghan said. “It’s good to see everyone is stepping up and hopefully Amber can come back for some playoff games. We’ll just keep playing hard.’
O’Hara, which has held the No. 1 spot in the Daily Times Super 7 most of the season, now faces adversity. On a losing streak for the first time, the Lions are forced to regroup before Friday’s game against Carroll. The Lions, the youngest team in the county with three freshmen and two sophomore starters, shot just 33.3 percent from the field.
No player scored in double figures and the Lions hadn’t allowed more than 52 points before Wednesday’s game. Hannah Nihill led with nine points, five boards and four steals. Sophomore forward Mary Sheehan, who was tasked with trying to outrebound Miller, added eight points, nine boards and two assists. Bridgette Hoy and Hendrixson also chipped in eight points apiece.
Sheehan explained the frustration of trying to slow Monaghan and Miller.
“We tried to do a trap defense, like a triangle-and-2, with Alyssa and Shalina,’ Sheehan said. “The first thing that hurt us was we were bad recovering in the corner. I’m not sure of the girl’s name (Laboy), but some girl hit some big shots for them in the first half. It was kind of crazy. For me, personally, I got an offensive foul in the first few minutes. After that, I was playing a little timid because I didn’t want to get that second one. That’s when I think Shalina really started dialing in and she got position on us.
“I thought we were prepared and ready to go, but they just came out faster and more ready than we did. We got a little frustrated early on, something we haven’t experienced the whole year. We couldn’t make shots. I, personally, couldn’t put the ball in the ocean tonight. It just wasn’t our night, offensively and defensively.’