SCH sophomore Caroline Henry (right) goes up to block a shot by Episcopal freshman Margaux Paolino. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

When your team plays a series of games against familiar opponents, the sensible old adage says you should make sure to beat the teams you’re supposed to beat, and see if you can add an upset win along the way.

For the most part, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy took that approach during the first round of play in Girls Inter-Ac basketball, finishing the set of six league games with a record of 4-2 despite a loss at Episcopal Academy last Tuesday.

The upset victory for SCH (9-9 overall) came against Germantown Academy, a team they’d never beaten before, and the Lions tabbed other Inter-Ac wins over Agnes Irwin, Baldwin, and Penn Charter. SCH didn’t take any of the last three lightly, but the Lions felt if they played well they’d have a good shot at success against those foes.

Episcopal came out smoking last week to dispatch SCH 60-37, and the other first-round loss for the locals came a week earlier against first-place Academy of Notre Dame. The Irish, still unbeaten in the Inter-Ac, actually trailed Springside Chestnut Hill by three points at halftime, but roared back to win, 52-24.

That loss occurred on Tuesday, January 8, but the Lions were able to regroup for back-to-back wins that Friday and Saturday, downing first Penn Charter (51-38), and then Agnes Irwin (48-38).

Everyone around the Inter-Ac took notice when SCH defeated GA, and last Tuesday at Episcopal the Churchwomen were not caught napping. EA junior Sarah Abbonizio (cousin of Notre Dame senior starter Ali Abbonizio) broke the ice with the first of the four three-pointers she would score during the opening quarter. SCH junior guard Julia Schumacher quickly got the visitors on the board with a lay-up, but Episcopal pulled away smartly after that and would lead the entire afternoon.

After Abbonizio guided the Churchwomen out to an 18-7 lead by the end of the first period, another EA guard, sophomore Leah Becker, banged in three three-point field goals of her own in the second round. All this was happening while the Lions also had to worry about Episcopal center Megan Quinn, a 6’2” senior who is going on to play at Villanova University.

“We don’t have anyone to stop Quinn one-on-one,” commented SCH coach Steve Purcell, “then when we help out on her, their guards are hitting three’s all over the place. Give them credit, they got the ball to their shooters and they were drilling their shots.”

SCH senior Gianna Pownall hit two lay-ups and stuck a three-pointer in the second quarter, but Episcopal still led 37-16 at halftime. Abbonizio already had 14 points in the book, followed by Becker with nine and Quinn with eight.

The Villanova signee added eight more points in a 21-10 third quarter, then the Lions picked up a little ground in the final period as both teams gave their reserves some exercise.

Quinn (15 rebounds) and Abbonizio shared game-high scoring honors with 16 points apiece, while Becker ended up with 11 and senior guard Kristen Hinckley (who has committed to Dartmouth for lacrosse) scored four points and led the winners in assists, with seven.

Pownall paced the visitors with 14 points and Schumacher scored 10, with freshman Lindsay Hiner leading the Lions in rebounds (nine) and contributing three points.