Hosts fall at 37th Snowball Tourney
Neither team from the host institution reached the finals of the 37th Annual Norwood Fontbonne Academy Snowball Tournament last weekend, but there was plenty of lively hoops action all the way through the championship round, where the finals in both the boys’ and girls’ brackets were decided by single-digit margins.
In the girls’ title game, Oreland’s Holy Martyrs gave up most of a 17-6 halftime lead, but they revived in the concluding minutes to defeat St. Philip Neri of Lafayette Hill, 30-22. Trailing by a few points at the end of each of the first three periods, Flourtown’s St. Genevieve squad pulled even with St. Alphonsus of Maple Glen at 32-all with less than three minutes remaining. St. Alph’s regrouped for the stretch run and pulled out a 38-33 victory.
The boys and girls playing for the Norwood Bears each came away with a win and a loss over the course of the tourney, and the eighth-grade team from Springside School was a new addition to the girls’ draw this year. Opening round contests took place on Thursday and Friday, with semifinal and consolation games on Saturday and the finals on Sunday morning.
In first-round games for the boys, St. Alph’s topped Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), 44-30, and St. Gen’s got by Holy Martyrs, 36-31, while St. Philip’s Blue team (the program’s “A” team), cruised past Epiphany Of Our Lord, 59-29, and tourney host Norwood clinched it first win of the season, 52-32, against the St. Philip White team.
The Norwood girls did not fare as well in their tourney opener, bowing to IHM, 31-24, and the other Chestnut Hill franchise in the tourney, Springside, lost to St. Philip, 49-27. In the other girls’ openers, it was Holy Martyrs over Ancillae Assumpta, 39-29, and Queen of Peace over Epiphany, 34-13.
The teams that lost in the initial round were guaranteed a second game, and in these consolation games in the boys’ bracket, IHM defeated St. Philip White, 60-43, and Holy Martyrs mastered Epiphany, 41-23. Epiphany’s girls also faltered in their consolation contest, succumbing to Ancillae, 32-18.
The other girls’ consolation game pitted Norwood against neighboring Springside. The host Bears eked out a 9-8 halftime lead as Madi Sehn sank a three-pointer and shot four-for-six at the foul line. In the third quarter Norwood forged ahead 14-8, but the Lions pulled back within two points with field goals by Emily Miller-McGlone and Olivia Byron.
Norwood tacked two points back onto its lead by the three-quarter mark, with the score now 16-12. Over the first three minutes of the final frame, NFA’s Sehn hit a jumper, a lay-up, and two free throws to put the Bears up by a full ten points. After that, Norwood was able to maintain a comfortable lead en route to a 24-16 victory.
Sehn finished with a game-high 18 points and Frannie McDermott added four points for the victors, while Springside received five points from Dominique Owad and four from Mikaela Watson.
Meanwhile, back in the main draw, the Norwood boys scored a little and fouled a lot as they fell behind St. Alph’s in their semifinal game. The leaders netted ten points from the foul line alone as they built up a 25-11 halftime advantage.
The Bears narrowed the gap by two points in the third period and then rallied for real in the fourth quarter. Guards Colin Burns and Adam Maiale each canned a three-pointer and center Phil Forrence asserted himself in the paint. Twice Norwood pulled within two points, first at 33-31 and then at 35-33 with three minutes to go. Under the leadership of Mick Barrett, who hit two field goals and all four of his free throws in the fourth quarter, St. Alphonsus pulled away again to win 44-38.
Barrett led all scorers with 23 points, a tally supplemented by nine points from Kevin Woods, eight from Sean O’Kane and four from Nicholas Mazza. Norwood received 13 points from Burns, nine from Forrence, eight from Maiale, and four apiece from Tyler Clark and Stephen Maloney.
St. Alphonsus moved on to the finals to meet St. Gen’s, a 37-33 winner over the St. Philip Blue team in the other semifinal.
The girls were up first on championship Sunday. Holy Martyrs’ Kate Senior began the game with two outside field goals, one of them a three-pointer. Both losses in her team’s 7-2 season record had come at the hands of St. Philip (18-4), but now Martyrs was playing tough defense on the Saints, limiting them to a single field goal in a 10-2 first quarter.
After Senior got the offense rolling, forward Megan Wheatley came on strong, scoring from the three point line, from underneath the basket, and many places in between. Late in the second period, the Saints appeared to be in a hopeless situation, trailing 17-4. Julia Schumacher, St. Philip’s compact and spirited point guard, scored an unlikely running hook shot right at the end of the half, and this little miracle seemed to give the Saints hope, as they came out playing much with much more determination on defense in the third quarter.
Shutting out their Oreland opponents throughout much of the period, they pulled within a point late in the period (17-16) with Schumacher and Penn Charter eighth grader Carly Monzo fueling the offense for the CYO franchise from Lafayette Hill. Wheatley stopped Holy Martyrs’ slide with a short bank shot at the end of the third period, and teammate Tara Dingley bagged a three-pointer at the start of the final quarter.
The count rose to 23-16 with a free throw by Martyrs’ Senior, but in a 6-1 surge, Monzo, Schumacher, and Jocelyn Porrino found the net to pull the Saints back within a point, 24-23, with under two-and-a-half minutes remaining. Wheatly stood up to the challenge with a lay-up, a free throw, and a jumper from the lane for Holy Martyrs, which went on to win, 30-22.
The winners got a game-high 14 points from Wheatley and nine from Senior, while Schumacher and Monzo gave St. Philip’s 12 and eight points, respectively.
At the outset of the boys’ championship game St. Alph’s Barrett targeted two treys from the right corner, but Brad Schneider of St. Gen’s produced the same result with three buckets from close range. Near the end of the first quarter, it was an old-time three-point play (lay-up and free throw) by Barrett that gave his squad a 13-10 edge. An even exchange during a low-scoring second period resulted in a halftime tally of 17-14. The long-range gunners on both sides opened up in the third stanza; St. Gen’s got two treys from Schneider and one from Nick Buckley, while Barrett of St. Alph’s added one more triple to his total. The teams were tied up at 25-all late in the period when Matthew Lucas stole the ball and went down the floor for a lay-up with two seconds remaining, putting St. Alph’s up by two.
After a 29-all tie in the middle of the fourth quarter, St. Gen’s gained its last lead of the game when Buckley bagged a pair of free throws with 2:58 on the clock. A transition score by O’Kane evened it up once more, 31-31, then St. Alph’s went up for good on a foul shot by Woods and a 15-foot jumper by Lucas.
St. Gen’s Brendan O’Donnell made it a one-point affair by knocking down two free throws, but with 24 seconds left Barrett drove in to give a three-point lead back to St. Alphonsus. On an inbounds play by St. Gen’s, Barrett stole the ball back, and when he was fouled with three seconds remaining he put the final score on the board with a flawless one-and-one.