On a lay-up attempt, SCH junior Madi Sehn (left) is fouled by Baldwin School’s Ali Thaler. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

A Baldwin School team that has picked up some new talent took Penn Charter right down to the wire on December 11, when PC won 43-41, but in Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s girls basketball league opener last Tuesday, the Lions found those same Baldwin Bears somewhat less imposing.

Repeatedly forcing the ball out of visiting Baldwin’s paws, the Lions built a double-digit lead in the first quarter and went on to win, 66-23.
SCH had three guards score in double figures. Junior Julia Schumacher recorded a game-high 16 points, while senior Gianna Pownall put up 14 points and her freshman sister, Marissa, had an even dozen. The Lions owned an overall record of 3-5 after besting the Bears.

“My assistant went out and saw them and felt that we should pressure the ball,” revealed Steve Purcell, the second-year head coach for Springside Chestnut Hill. “That was to our advantage, because we have a guard-heavy roster this year. The half-court trap is the thing that got to them.”

It was the second win in a row for the local franchise following a 1-5 start to the season.

“The main thing that changed is that in these last couple games we’ve been making shots,” Purcell said. “Before that we shot eight-for-44 in one game, and 10-for-55 in another.

“If we’re open, we’re going to fire it,” the coach continued. “Hopefully, they’re good shots and we’ve got our feet set, but with the [relatively small] size of our team, that’s going to be our thing. We’re not going to be pounding the ball inside.”

Schumacher, who came out of the St. Philip Neri CYO program in Lafayette Hill, opened the scoring with a 15-footer, then the elder Pownall popped a three-pointer from the right wing for the Lions, who never trailed.

After falling behind 15-5 in the first period, the Bears turned in their best offensive quarter in the second round, scoring nine points. SCH still increased its lead as Schumacher, Marissa Pownall, and senior Maddi Hinchey all found the hoop from the three-point loop. Hinchey is a product of Norwood Fontbonne Academy, as is junior forward Madi Sehn, who added a free throw during the second stanza to help the hosts take a 31-14 advantage into the locker room.

The second half began with a Gianna Pownall “three” from the left flank, and a 20-6 quarter for SCH pretty much quashed Baldwin’s comeback hopes. Schumacher finished her night with three lay-ups in the final round.

Hinchey had eight points for the game and freshman forward Lindsay Hiner added a midrange jumper and hauled in 11 rebounds. The Lions got four points apiece from junior Katie Shields and sophomore Olivia Byron, three from sophomore Caroline Henry, and two from freshman Essence Walden.

Hiner is not a skyscraper at 5’10”, but she’s strong and savvy.

“Lindsay pretty much has to play as our big girl and she’s been rebounding well,” Purcell said. “I also thought Marissa Pownall had a nice game for us today. She had her feet set and we got her the ball where she could score. The key for her and all our other young players is to learn to do that under pressure.”

UPDATE: On Wednesday, SCH defeated Hill School, the runner-up in the Pa. Independent Schools tournament last spring, 48-41.