FRANCONIA >> Last season, Teya McConnaha and the Souderton girls basketball team were spectators as Central Bucks East celebrated clinching the Suburban One League Colonial Division title.
“I can remember it being a big deal where we were just like ‘That’s going to be us next year,’” McConnaha said.
Friday, it was the Indians holding the postgame championship party, cutting down the net after shutting down North Penn, holding the Knights to just six points in the second half to earn a 45-27 victory and secure the outright division crown.
“These things, you don’t come by them easy – I’ve been doing this for 18 years and it’s only my third one,” Souderton coach Lynn Carroll said. “And it’s a special thing, especially in the conference that we play in where every night it’s a battle.”
McConnaha finished with 12 points, nine coming in the third quarter as the Indians (17-2, 13-1 SOL Colonial) outscored the Knights 17-2 after trailing 21-20 at halftime.
“The first half I felt like I wasn’t helping at all, especially cause they were above us,” said McConnaha, who also had six rebounds. “So I felt that I needed to come out and I needed to play my game.”
Casey Harter had a game-high 13 points, five assists and four rebounds as Souderton picked up its 14th straight victory to capture its first SOL title since winning the Continental Conference in 2018-19.
“We have been looking forward to this day since freshman year,” McConnaha said. “Cause we all came up together through SHYBA and just playing together.”
Maddux Murphy’s 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer put visiting North Penn (7-11, 5-9) up one at the break but Big Red opened the third with a Mikayla McGillian basket inside and a McConnaha three to go up 25-21.
Abby Plaugher scored on a drive to get the Knights within 25-23 but Souderton proceeded to record the last 12 points of the quarter to build a 37-23 lead.
“In the halftime talk we talked about not doing plays so much, just playing five-on-five, just having fun with it, doing what we do best,” McConnaha said. “And that really changed the game for us cause it got me a lot of open shots, it got everybody else open shots it was just what we needed to do.”
Four straight points from McConnaha made it 29-23 before Harter blocked a shot on one end then scored on a putback at the other for a nine-point lead.
After two Harter free throws at 2:43 made it 33-23, McConnaha scored inside while Harter found Brooke Fenchel for a basket in the quarter’s final seconds to put the Indians up 14.
“The girls actually asked at halftime if we could kind of run less plays and play basketball a little bit and that’s pretty much what we did the entire second half,” Carroll said. “And you saw, their decision making is very good, they see mismatches, they were just playing with so much poise in the second half but it still wasn’t as good as their defense.”
Plaugher had seven points to pace the Knights, who lost their third straight. North Penn came into Friday holding the 24th and final qualification spot in the District 1-6A rankings.
“The story of our season has just kind of been finishing games,” said first-year Knights coach Brianna Cullen. “We’re just falling short every game that we lose. But it’s a young group, we’re learning, every game’s a learning lesson and we have a bright future ahead of us.”
Both teams are scheduled to play road nonleague games this weekend. Souderton – which was second in the District 1-6A rankings entering Friday – visits Reading 3:30 p.m. Saturday while North Penn is at Villa Joseph Marie 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
“Our kids are smart, they’re mature, they get it,” Carroll said. “They understand that every game, not only how important each game is to the power rankings but just we want to be playing our best basketball of the season right now. And we have three regular-season games left and those games are the focus.
“We’re not looking down the road any further and no matter what team we’re facing right now, we’ve formed a lot of good habits, we want to maintain those habits and continue playing at a high level.”
Souderton started the night by scoring the first nine points – four provided by McGillian – before a Plaugher 3-pointer and two from Stone had the Knights down 9-5. A Harter free throw with 52.1 seconds made it 10-5 after a quarter.
Consecutive Harter baskets extended the Indians’ advantage to nine but North Penn answered with an 8-0 run. Stone connected on a three then hit a free throw at 4:09 to make it 14-11 while Caleigh Sperling scored inside after her initial shot was blocked to put the Knights down one.
“I think the effort, all-around,” said Cullen of what was working for North Penn in the second quarter. “The defense, we kind of followed the game plan and executed off of opportunities.”
Grace McDonough’s three-point play at 2:58 gave Souderton a 17-13 lead but Cameron Crowley’s trey had NP again within one.
A McConnaha basket then a foul shot by the junior put Big Red up 20-16 with 1:12 left. However, the Knights collected the half’s last five points – Stone finding Leah Mikulski inside for two then Murphy’s trey right before the buzzer off a Sperling assist to give North Penn its first lead at 21-20.
After Plaugher’s basket in the third had the Knights down 25-23 North Penn did not score again until a Sperling foul shot at 6:40 in the fourth made it 57-24 Indians. Souderton posted the next six points to go up 19.
Two Harter free throws with 2:00 remaining gave Big Red’s its largest advantage at 45-25.
Souderton 45, North Penn 27
North Penn 5 16 2 4 – 27
Souderton 10 10 17 8 – 45
North Penn: Abby Plaugher 3 0-0 7; Olivia Stone 2 1-2 6; Maddux Murphy 2 0-0 5; Cameron Crowley 1 0-0 3; Leah Mikulski 1 1-2 3; Caleigh Sperling 1 1-2 3; Totals 10 3-6 27.
Souderton: Casey Harter 4 5-6 13; Teya McConnaha 5 1-4 12; Brooke Fenchel 3 0-0 6; Mikayla McGillian 2 2-2 6; Erin Bohmueller 2 0-0 5; Grace McDonough 1 1-1 3; Totals 17 9-13 45.
3-pointers: Crowley, Murphy, Plaugher, Stone; S-Bohmueller, McConnaha.