A strong start by Lansdale Catholic helped set the tone for a solid 55-26 non-league girls’ basketball victory at Pope John Paul II on Jan. 14.
“We had a game plan on the defensive end,” said Lansdale Catholic head coach Joe Mack. “Girls hit jump shots in the first quarter. That helped us get started.”
The plan going into the game turned out to be exactly what the Crusaders needed for the win, which improved their record to 9-5 overall.
“Sometimes we come out slow,” said junior Brady Wassel. “Defensively, we were staying low. It came together.”
Sophomore Elise Sylvester hit two foul shots for Pope John Paul less than two minutes into the action. But LC junior Lauren Crim nailed a three-point field goal to give her team the lead for good. Teammate and senior Laura Vetter scored and Wassel and Crim followed with back-to-back three pointers.
Sophomore Emily Smith extended the run and the Golden Panthers took a time out with 3:09 to play in the first quarter. JPII’s Sylvester scored late in the period before LC sophomore Maile Erwin scored and gave Lansdale Catholic a 17-4 surplus.
“Everyone came out strong,” said Wassel. “We were concentrating on getting shots early on.”
The Crusaders kept moving in the second quarter. Sophomores Kristina Finkelston and Carolyn Ferko scored. Smith and Wassel continued the run. Junior Jana Cainglet shot a three-pointer for Pope John Paul II late in the half.
Trailing by a score of 30-9, the Golden Panthers managed to regroup at halftime and that gave them a stronger second half, offensively and defensively. Senior Rachel Yerger, junior Monica Rapchinski and sophomore Lauren Ciuba and Sylvester all scored for their team during the third quarter and cut the Crusader lead to 42-23.
“We spoke at halftime,” said head coach Liz Bernstein. “There are things you can control on the floor, (such as) rebounding and defense.”
Holding on to a strong lead going into the fourth quarter, several Crusaders came off of the bench and contributed. Senior Megan Maloney scored and Finkelston extended the lead with a basket as well as two foul shots with 2:48 in regulation.
Lansdale Catholic used a 30-second time out and sophomore Julia Eckroth and senior Holly Schneider followed with back-to-back baskets. Junior Maria Cotellese ended the game shooting a free throw for Pope John Paul.
“Everybody played hard,” said Mack. “We have a great program. It’s great to give every girl opportunities.”
Wassel and Smith paced the scoring with 10 points apiece.
“Many girls contributed,” said Wassel. “Everyone worked the ball and played well.”
Leading the way on offense for the Golden Panthers were Yerger and Sylvester with six points each.
With a few weeks remaining in the regular season, Pope John Paul II and Lansdale Catholic are looking to conclude the year on a strong note and, they hope, secure a playoff berth.
“It has to be a group effort with all five players focused on the same thing,” said Bernstein.