2011 Girls' BB Notebook (Vol. 2)

A tough task – Coach Dan Marsh knew his team would have its hands full when it traveled to Newtown on Tuesday night to take on an undefeated Council Rock North squad. The task became even more daunting when the Ghosts’ coach arrived at practice and discovered that senior point guard Chynna West had been diagnosed with a concussion and will be sidelined for an undetermined period of time.

 “It’s been a crazy season,” Marsh said. “I told girls we keep getting punched in the stomach, and we keep getting back up.
“We got another big one today, but we just have to get back up and go after it. Our girls are pretty resilient.”
This year’s team, according to Marsh, is comprised of a special breed of player.
“It’s kind of weird,” he said. “We are not as good as we were last year, but this team just doesn’t quit. Last year, things came to us fairly easily. Except for Council Rock North and a couple of other teams like Council Rock South, we won our games fairly easily.
“This year every game we’ve won we’ve earned, and it’s shown. We played Neshaminy on Friday, and the next day we try and play Cheltenham, and we don’t have much left physically or mentally. Every game drains us. I’m so proud of this team. Even though we are 10-5, we are 7-1 in the league. Tomorrow is another huge challenge for us, and hopefully we’ll respond and do the best we can do.”
West averaged 12 points a game for the Ghosts, but even more important than those points was the floor leadership and ball handling skills the veteran floor general provided.
“I know Aiyannah (Peal) is very key to our team, but Chynna is our engine,” Marsh said.
West suffered the concussion in Friday night’s win over Neshaminy but played in Saturday’s game against Cheltenham.
“I shouldn’t have played her Saturday because my instincts were telling me she wasn’t right,” Marsh said. “We’re going to move forward and do what we can do.
“It hurts us because we don’t have a lot of depth to begin with, and we don’t have any depth at ball handling. Chynna was our ball handler. I can’t sugarcoat it. Tomorrow is going to be very difficult, and the rest of the season – there’s no game that we can win easily now.”
Marsh arrived at Monday’s practice with a game plan that included West.
 “I’m like, ‘Girls, I’m going to need 15 minutes,’ so I went off to the side and started drawing up adjustments to the game,” the Ghosts’ coach said. “The players were in a huddle, and I heard them putting together their own plan. They didn’t put their heads down and say, ‘Oh, we can’t win.’ They were saying, ‘This is what we have to do now.’
“Jess Schmidt said it best – ‘The last time we played them, we played them tough with two starters out. Now we only have one starter out so we can win.’ I don’t know how realistic it is, but I love the attitude.”
When the two teams met in the first go-round (a 60-37 Rock North win), the Ghosts were minus starters Peal and Sarah Listenbee, both of whom were sitting out a one-game suspension. The Indians also were minus starters Emily Grundman (injury) and Megan Cunningham (illness) and another – Devin Gold – was battling a stomach virus.
On Tuesday, the Ghosts will be without their floor general while Lauren Gold – a key to the Indians on both sides of the ball – will be playing on a sore ankle.
“I almost like it – now we’re back to where we were last year,” Marsh said. “We’re in the underdog spot.”
Marsh is hoping the outcome will be the same for the defending district champion Ghosts.
Winning is contagious - Quakertown broke a seven-game losing streak with its thrilling come-from-behind OT win against Pennridge last Tuesday, and the Panthers apparently enjoyed winning so much they decided to close out the week with two more wins.
“That Pennridge game gave us a lot of momentum,” coach Greg Swavely said. “The girls played hard and pulled that one out, and that propelled us going into the next two.
“It gave the girls some confidence and some determination, and I think that carried through the weekend.”
On Friday, the Panthers avenged an early-season 57-43 loss to Hatboro-Horsham by reversing the score in a 58-43 win. Senior Lauren Starzecky posted her second double-double in as many games, this time scoring 25 points and pulling down 16 rebounds.
In Saturday’s 38-21 non-league win over Exeter, Starzecky singlehandedly outscored the opposition with a 22-point effort.
“Lauren has been a real special player for us,” Swavely said. “She carries us at times. We know that when the game is on the line, we’re looking to her to lead our team.
“She’s having a phenomenal senior year, exceeding our expectations as far as what we thought she could do this year. I’m just real happy for her that she’s finishing out her career with such a good year.”
Senior Juli King delivered the shot that stunned Pennridge, connecting on a trey from NBA range to knot the score in the closing seconds of regulation. She finished with 17 points and followed that with a 10-point effort in the win over the Hatters. On Saturday, King had nine points in the win over Exeter.
“Juli King has stepped it up,” Swavely said. “We challenged Juli at the beginning of the year to increase her scoring to help take some of the load off of Lauren.
“The last couple of games she has really stepped up, and that’s been a reason why we have had some success.”
According to Swavely, the players remained positive even during a seven-game losing streak.
“These girls have never given up,” the Panthers coach said. “Their work ethic has been second to none since day one.
“Even when we lost seven in a row, they never got negative. They just kept plugging away. It’s nice to see them experience some success. I’m just so happy for them. They’re a great bunch of girls to coach.”
The Panthers will put their three-game winning streak on the line when they travel to Central Bucks West. The Bucks are hoping to end a three-game skid of their own.
Big winners – An interesting sidelight to Saturday’s SOL challenge was the remarkable success of the American Conference. Four of the six teams participating from that conference won and just two lost while the Continental Conference teams were 3-4 and National Conference teams were 3-5.
Cheltenham – behind the brilliant 25-point effort of Ciara ‘CC’ Andrews – pulled off the day’s biggest win when the Lady Panthers down Abington 48-36, and while Andrews stole the spotlight, it was Cheltenham’s defense that was the difference in the game, forcing 31 turnovers.
Plymouth Whitemarsh rolled to a 71-40 win over Hatboro-Horsham and has quietly reeled off six straight wins – that’s one more than the Colonials won all of last season when they stumbled to a 5-15 record overall (4-10 in SOL play). This year, the Colonials are 5-2 in league play and 9-5 overall.
In Saturday’s win over the Hatters, PW scored 43 first-half points. To put that number into perspective, the Colonials scored that many points in just three of 20 games last season. Gabby Schumacher had the hot hand against the Hatters, scoring 26 points, while teammates Erin Martin and Lex Borkowski each added 12 points. The Colonials will have a showdown with Upper Dublin on Friday. Both teams are 5-2.
In the remaining games including American Conference schools, Upper Moreland picked up a 47-32 win over Harry S. Truman while Upper Dublin handled Central Bucks South 59-42.
Not a bad day for a conference comprised of the SOL’s smallest schools.
Just for fun – Ashley Alden has accepted a softball scholarship to Rutgers University, but until then, the William Tennent senior is playing a little basketball for her high school team. In Saturday’s 70-27 win over Norristown in the SOL challenge, Alden torched the Eagles for 30 points in just three quarters of action. On Monday night, in Tennent’s 60-45 non-league win over Christopher Dock, Alden poured in a game-high 22 points.
If you’re counting, Alden has scored 52 points in two games, an impressive number by any standard but especially impressive considering basketball is her secondary sport.
Lights out – In one of the stranger postponements in recent memory, Central Bucks West’s game at Souderton on Monday afternoon was postponed because of a power failure.
“There was a local issue in Souderton that caused not only areas throughout the locale to lose power but also several schools in the district,” Souderton Principal Sam Varano said. “Unfortunately, without electricity, we can’t have a basketball game.”
The game was a make-up game from Friday when the Central Bucks School District was closed because – since they were scheduled for just a half day – they could not have a two-hour delay.
“This (was) a bizarre situation,” Souderton coach Lynn Carroll said. “Terry (Rakowsky), the officials and I were talking about the ‘what ifs,’ and nobody had any answers because this never happens. It feels like the game that’s not meant to be, but everybody has been extremely cooperative, including the officials, the CB West coaching staff and the administration.”
The game has been rescheduled for Thursday, Feb. 10.
“The fear is that this has been the kind of winter that won’t ever stop,” Carroll said. “We all anticipate at least one more snowstorm and another postponement, and it was tough enough to find a spot for this game.
“If we have to find a spot for another game, we’re in trouble.”
Maidens on a roll – Since losing to Central Bucks South 36-32 on Jan. 7, the North Penn Maidens have been on fire, winning five straight and averaging close to 59 points a game in those contests. A key to the Maidens turnaround has been the emergence of sophomore Lauren Crisler, who has scored in double figures in each of those wins.
One of last Friday’s most intriguing matchups figured to be the Maidens showdown against conference-leading Central Bucks East. The game has been rescheduled for Feb. 2. Stay tuned.
What race? – Council Rock North, Central Bucks East and Cheltenham have rolled through the first half of conference play without a loss. East and Cheltenham have two-game leads over their closest competition while Rock North boasts a one-game lead over Abington. The short-handed Ghosts will need a win over the Indians in Tuesday night’s showdown to keep things interesting in at least one conference.
SuburbanOneSports.com’s Super Six
  1. Council Rock North (8-0 SOL, 13-0 overall)
  2. Cheltenham (7-0 SOL, 12-3 overall)
  3. Central Bucks East (7-0 SOL, 12-2 overall)
  4. Upper Dublin (5-2 SOL, 12-3 overall)
  5. Abington (7-1 SOL, 10-5 overall)
  6. Council Rock South (6-2 SOL, 10-4 overall)