Downingtown >> After a tough defensive struggle by both teams in the first half, West Chester Henderson turned its defense up a notch in the third quarter for a 43-33 girls’ basketball win against a tough Bishop Shanahan squad Tuesday evening.
“I give our defense a lot of credit – in the second half, Shanahan didn’t get any open looks,” said West Chester Henderson head coach Greta Neff. “Everything was contested, they had to work for every shot. We worked and we rotated [defensively] and got some good tips.”
Neff also was pleased with the Warriors’ rebounding in the second half, which often held the hosts to one shot per trip after halftime. Henderson senior Molly Manion grabbed nine rebounds, while two of her teammates, senior forward Ellie Shea and freshman guard Whitney Evans, combined for 15 boards against Bishop Shanahan (8-5), who was ranked No. 4 in PIAA District 1 Class 5A before Tuesday’s game.
“We talk a lot about rebounding and making layups, and tonight we went to the basket hard and got a couple of calls go our way in the second half,” said Neff.
With the victory, West Chester Henderson, ranked No. 15 in PIAA District 1 Class 6A, improves to 8-6 on the season.
In the first half Tuesday evening, the contest was a tightly-contested affair, as neither team held more than a two-point advantage, with the exception of an early 4-0 Shanahan lead.
At halftime, the host Eagles held an 18-16 lead, thanks in part to 10 points from freshman Sammie Blumenthal, who has developed into a solid post presence for Shanahan this winter.
Early in the third quarter, Shanahan held a 20-19 advantage which turned out to be its last lead of the night. Following a Shanahan double dribble violation, Ellie Shea scored inside to give the visitors a 21-20 lead, then Manion hit from midrange to increase the lead to 23-20.
Following a Shanahan miss from underneath, Henderson worked the ball upcourt and gave it to junior guard Grace DePrisco, who hit a trey from the left side to make it 26-20.
Shanahan senior Shannon Donahue’s putback cut Henderson’s lead to 26-22, then two free throws by freshman forward Gabrielle Nanni and a putback by Evans gave the visitors a 30-22 lead. With less than a minute left in the third quarter, Manion grabbed an offensive rebound, scored a layup and was fouled, making the free throw to put the Warriors ahead 33-24. Manion scored seven points in the third quarter, and blocked five Shanahan shots Tuesday evening.
“Molly’s pretty athletic, so she did a nice job of helping out inside and making up for some blown assignments that we had,” said Neff. “Molly had a nice, tough effort today.”
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Henderson senior guard Brittney Forcine hit her second trey of the night to give the visitors a 36-26 lead; then following a spirited recovery of a loose ball by DePrisco, Evans drove in for a layup to give the Warriors a 38-26 lead.
A few minutes later, Manion intercepted a Shanahan pass and drove in for a layup to make the score 40-28 with three minutes to go.
“We got some movement outside from some of our young kids tonight,” said Neff. “Brittney Forcine hit some big baskets; Grace DePrisco hit a big basket; Gabby Nanni gave us some really good energy coming off the bench; Ellie Shea rebounded the ball [well]. In the second half, we kind of got after it – we talk about putting a team away, and that’s what I thought we did, we kind of put them away.
“This was a good morale win for us, it gives us a little momentum going into the rest of the season.”
Henderson has two regular-season games left – Downingtown West on Thursday and Avon Grove on Friday.
Bishop Shanahan, currently ranked No. 5 in PIAA District 1 5A, has one regular-season game remaining, against Downingtown East Thursday.
“I thought our rebounding was not as good tonight as it has been during the season,” said Bishop Shanahan head coach Jim Powers. “We’ve done a pretty good job on the boards, but tonight, I think Henderson got a lot more [rebound] opportunities and they got some baskets out of it.
“We got off to a slow start in the third quarter – we had some turnovers, some miscues. But even when we were down 10 points late, our kids kept at it, trying to get back into the game. It was just the first few minutes of the third quarter when we lost the lead and never recovered. So we can learn from this if our players can look at that and say, ‘Hey if we could be a little cleaner at the beginning of the second half, this game’s a lot closer throughout.’”
West Chester Henderson 43, Bishop Shanahan 33
West Chester Henderson 9 7 17 10 – 43
Bishop Shanahan 8 10 8 7 – 33
West Chester Henderson (43): J. Shea 2 0-0 4, DePrisco 1 3-5 6, Evans 5 0-0 11, Forcine 3 0-0 8, Halladay 0 0-0 0, G. Nanni 0 2-2, 2, M. Nanni 0 0-0 0, Meredith 0 0-0 0, Manion 4 1-1 9, E. Shea 1 1-4 3, Totals 16 7-12 43.
Bishop Shanahan (33): Petruno 0 0-0 0, Wankmiller 0 0-0 0, McHugh 1 0-0 2, Brown 3 0-0 6, Oswald 2 1-2 5, Callaghan 1 0-0 2, Rudolph 1 0-0 2, Donahue 3 0-0 6, S. Blumenthal 5 0-1 10, Sendi 0 0-0 0, Totals 16 1-3 33.
Three-point field goals: WCH – DePrisco, Evans, Forcine 2.