SCH senior Sydni Epps (left) goes to the hoop against Chantal Thomas of Freire Charter. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Like a top-fuel dragster with bald tires, the girls basketball team at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy is having trouble applying its horsepower to the pavement. The Lions didn’t play up to their talent level at the three-day West Chester University Christmas Classic last week, beating one truly woeful team but losing to a pair of unremarkable squads in their other two outings.

Against Freire Charter on December 27, a one-point Lions lead early in the fourth quarter vanished and the situation deteriorated into a 39-28 defeat. The following afternoon, SCH kept Oxford High School winless for the year, thumping the Chester County club, 46-28. The Lions wound up playing for third place against Susquehanna Township High School, which is located just outside of Harrisburg.

The locals slipped behind 19-10 in the first quarter, and when Susquehanna put together a 22-4 second period, the Lions’ fate was sealed. They outscored the Indians the rest of the way, but lost 65-56. SCH will make a fresh start in 2012 with an overall record of 6-6.

The holiday tourney did not begin in an auspicious manner for the Chestnut Hill franchise. A regular starter who had missed the previous game was on the bench for the beginning of this outing, and forward Michelle Boggs, lost on the rainy backstreets of West Chester, hurried into the gym just two minutes before game time. The Lions’ opponent, Freire Charter (4-2), was coming off of a 38-32 loss to SCH’s Inter-Ac colleague, Penn Charter.

Missing a number of lay-ups in the opening period, the Lions saw an early 4-2 lead transformed into a 10-5 shortfall by the end of the quarter. Two minutes into the second frame, they pulled even at 10-10 on a lay-up by Boggs. Freire Charter regained the lead, and the Lady Dragons had a 12-11 edge at the interlude.

A jumper, a lay-up and a free throw by Pownall and a tally off a rebound by Boggs got the Lions into an 18-all tie in the middle of the period. The Dragons went up 24-20, but a pair of free throws by SCH senior Sydni Epps got the locals within two at the three-quarter mark.

Off of a pass from Boggs at the outset of the fourth quarter, Pownall scored on a drive and then converted a free throw, nudging the Lions ahead, 25-24. However, that would be the last SCH field goal of the afternoon; Freire closed out the contest with a 15-3 surge. Poor shot selection (and execution) by SCH led to defensive rebounds for the Dragons, which led to scoring on the transition.

Pownall put up a game-high 15 points, but the bad news was that she outscored the rest of her teammates, combined. Boggs and Epps each had six points and sophomore Madi Sehn added a free throw. The Dragons got good outside/inside balance from guard Latisha Johnson, with 12 points, and forward Chelsea Woods, with 11.

The Lions’ next opponent, Oxford, was clearly overmatched in the tournament as whole, falling to a record of 0-8 with its loss to SCH. After rolling to a 28-8 halftime lead, the Lions turned their entire bench loose and entered maintenance mode.

Epps, with 10 points, Elana Roadcloud, with nine, and Boggs, with eight, led the parade to the Hornets’ basket. Caroline Henry chipped in with four points, while three points apiece came from Sehn, Schumacher, and Maddi Hinchey, and two each from Pownall, Alexis Giovinazzo, and Kyra Jackson filled out the rest of the winners’ total.

The bench players also saw plenty of action in the game against Susquehanna Township, but it wasn’t because the Lions built up an insurmountable lead. Experimentation with different player combinations by Springside Chestnut Hill couldn’t prevent the Indians from steadily pulling away. After the Lions got behind 41-14 before the intermission, they played a stronger second half but still were left nine points shy of Susquehanna at the final horn.

Boggs had a big game with 22 points, with Epps adding 11 and Roadcloud and Hinchey each scoring six points. Sehn, Schumacher, and Pownall produced five, four, and two points, respectively.