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February 12, 2009

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Springside basketball succumbs to Episcopal, Notre Dame
Point guard Colleen Caldwell brings the ball upcourt for Springside

It’s hard to say which irked the Springside School hoopsters more, last Tuesday’s close loss, or a big-ticket defeat three days later. Unfortunately for the Lions, both a 53-50 shortfall against Episcopal Academy and a subsequent 52-16 setback dealt by Notre Dame occurred in league games on Springside’s home court.

While the Lions slipped to 4-6 within the Girls Inter-Ac League, they were still well into winning territory overall, at 16-8. They will close out the regular season this week with league home games against Germantown Academy and Agnes Irwin, and a non-league contest at Abington Friends School.

The Springsiders had reason to feel they could have done better in both of last week’s contests. They had split a home/away series with a Penn Charter club that beat Episcopal twice, yet the Lions lost to Episcopal both times they faced the Churchwomen. In both EA games, Springside played without senior forward Tori Baggio, who was away on a college visit on the first occasion, and who missed both of last week’s outings due to a pair of broken fingers.

Even so, Springside coach Brian Morris said, “to lose those Episcopal games was disappointing. We just didn’t get it done, twice, against them. We lose by seven over there and we miss eight fouls shots, then we lose by three and miss eight foul shots.”

In the Lions’ January visit to Notre Dame, forward Teghan Boyle fought through a high fever, sharpshooter Katie Rutan retired at halftime with a pulled quad muscle, and ailing guard Courtney Caputo couldn’t play at all. Still, the Lions were only down by five points at halftime before eventually losing, 50-27. Even with Baggio missing for the rematch with the Irish, the Lions hoped to do better. Instead, they got steamrolled by Notre Dame, which led 26-4 at halftime.

“The last few games, we just did not do a good job playing defense,” admitted Morris. “Still, there are always lessons to be learned, and especially with our younger players, teaching the game is an ongoing thing.”

On Tuesday, visiting Episcopal was up 16-15 at the end of the first period, but by halftime Springside had taken a one-point lead (28-27), and the Lions maintained that edge during a 10-10 third quarter.

While the Churchwomen scored from the paint as the fourth period progressed, Springside used a pair of treys from Amanda Walker to keep pace.

With two minutes remaining, Episcopal moved ahead for good, 47-45, on Kory Tyron’s three-pointer from the top of the key. The Churchwomen would earn the rest of their points with six-for-eight free throw shooting down the stretch. Springside’s Boyle and Caputo had already fouled out of the game, and Rutan would follow with eight seconds to go, just after she hit two free throws of her own to make it 51-50.

Rutan’s final foul sent EA’s Alex Chambers to the line, and she stroked both shots to put the final score on the board.

Springside got the ball across the half-court line and called time-out with 3.7 seconds left, then Caldwell’s three-ball from the left wing hit the top of the backboard as the buzzer went off. Rutan had a game-high 23 points and Caldwell collected 13, while Walker added a dozen on four-three pointers. EA’s Allie Clark also canned four-treys as part of her team-leading 15 points. Tyron finished with 14 points and Chambers and Kelsey Gula notched 10 apiece for the winners, who leveled their league record at 4-4.

When the Irish (7-1 league, 17-6 overall) arrived at Springside on Friday, they hadn’t played in a little over a week. The previous Thursday, Notre Dame had lost a 28-27 defensive barnburner at Germantown Academy, which took over sole possession of first place in the Inter-Ac with the victory.

Irish coach Mary Beth McNichol noted, “We took three days off after the GA game to rest up for the next few weeks. Starting with this game today [at Springside], we have seven games in 10 days, so I told the girls they’ve got to be focused because now every game means something. I thought they might be down a little bit after that emotional loss to GA, but when they came to practice on Monday they were ready to go.”

Unfortunately for Springside, the Irish were still ready to go when Thursday’s game got underway, reeling off 15 unanswered points before a Caldwell lay-up got the Lions on the scoreboard with a minute to go in the opening quarter. The hosts were limited to a single field goal in the second period, as well; Courtney Caputo made good on a drive to the hoop, but Springside still trailed by 22 points at halftime.

Rutan scored her first points of the game by sinking a trey early in the third quarter, but Notre Dame’s Fiona Flanagan quickly responded in kind, and the visitors proceeded to a 37-9 lead at the three-quarter mark. Both teams had the opportunity to air out their benches during the final frame.

Notre Dame’s Devon Kane, a compact but quick guard who’s signed with Villanova, scored 14 of her game-high 18 points in the first half, while also accumulating four assists and four steals. Flanagan finished with eight points, and guard Megan McCullough (also a field hockey standout for the Irish) produced nine points and five rebounds.

Rutan, who torches a lot of the teams Springside plays, was held to five points, a figure matched by reserve forward Jamie McGinn.

“Our defense has been great all year,” noted Notre Dame’s McNichol. “We’ve covered a lot of good players so far this season, and we’ve done a pretty good job on them.”

Throughout the game, many of the Lions’ possessions ended prematurely as they turned the ball over under defensive pressure from the visitors.

When the Irish were on offense, Springside’s Morris pointed out, “They moved the ball extremely well. On two segments in the second half I counted it; 12 passes and a shot, 16 passes and a shot. We always preach to the kids ‘value every possession.’ Today Notre Dame did that, but we didn’t.”

 

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