|Staff photo by Brad Spahr/Shanahan's Jordan Ogden goes up for a shot during Thursday's 26-23 victory over Downingtown East.|
By BRAD SPAHR
UWCHLAN - There was plenty of screaming and celebrating in the locker room of the Bishop Shanahan High School girls basketball team following their game on Thursday night. It was for good reason, as the program had just pulled off a historic win by defeating perennial Ches-Mont League powerhouse Downingtown East for the first time.
Bishop Shanahan did so despite the fact that it was only able to muster a total of five points in the first two quarters, as the Eagles awoke in a big way after halftime, roaring back to stun the host Cougars by a score of 26-23 at Robert A. Boyer Gymnasium in a key Ches-Mont League National Division contest.
The Eagles (6-3 National, 10-7 overall)got an impressive game from sophomore guard Rachel Parker, who scored all of her team-high 10 points in the second half, including three separate offensive rebounds that led to putbacks.
None of those three was more crucial than her last. With 2:41 remaining Parker gave Bishop Shanahan the lead for good, 25-23, when she corralled an offensive board following a missed free throw and quickly put it back in for what turned out to be the game-winning basket.
The Eagles added a free throw by Christine Lawrence with 32.1 seconds to go, upping their lead to 26-23. They then had to avoid numerous scares in the waning moments as Downingtown East’s Abby McKinley had three separate 3-point attempts to tie the game in the final 12 seconds. All three of them were good shots that just barely missed.
"We wanted this game so bad," said Parker. "We played terrible in the first half, and our coach was a little bit upset at us. We came out so fired up and energized in the second half.
"This was such a big win for us. Even though things didn’t go our way early we kept fighting and found a way to get it done."
Bishop Shanahan really needed this game to keep its Ches-Mont Final Four Tournament hopes alive. They moved to one game back of Downingtown East (7-2, 11-6) for second place in the National Division. Both teams have three league contests left, with the top two teams in each division qualifying for the tournament following the completion of the regular season.
Thursday night’s tilt was a bizarre one from the start. Bishop Shanahan led 4-2 after a slow-paced opening quarter. Downingtown East then dominated the second quarter by outscoring its guests, 12-1, to seize what appeared to be a commanding 14-5 halftime lead.
Bishop Shanahan went on a quick 6-0 run to open the third, and never looked back on its way to controlling the period to turn the tides on the game. Parker scored a big basket at the buzzer to close the quarter, as she grabbed an offensive board and put it back in to give the Eagles a 19-17 lead.
The game was tied two different times in the first four minutes of the fourth.
However, with 3:49 to go Downingtown East seized a 23-21 advantage on a pair of free throws by freshman guard Paige Warfel, who finished with a game-high 11 points. Those would be the final points the rest of the way, though, for the Cougars.
Down three points with 12 seconds left, McKinley just missed a 3-pointer to pull Downingtown East even, but the Cougars retained possession when the ball went out of bounds off a Shanahan player. Following a timeout, the Cougars in-bounded the ball from underneath the basket, eventually finding McKinley open at the top of the key. She again just came up short with a potential tying 3-pointer with 6.2 seconds left. Downingtown East, though, grabbed the offensive rebound and quickly kicked the ball out to an open McKinley on the left side, and her 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
"We had three good looks to the tie the game in the last 15 seconds. You can’t ask for anything more than that," said Downingtown East coach Bob Schnure. "This was a hard-fought game. Shanahan did a nice job defensively, and Parker made a couple of big plays for them in the second half."
Shanahan tied the game at 23 with 3:20 to go on a clutch jumper by Diana Cusick. After Parker’s basket to make it 25-23, the Eagles later would burn some valuable clock running their four corners offense to perfection before getting fouled with 32.1 left. Lawrence made the front end of the one-and-one, upping the lead to three, and then Shanahan was able to hang on down the stretch.
"I’m really proud of the girls. They never gave up," said Shanahan coach Mary Ann Keenan. "Diana Cusick was outstanding defensively, Christine Lawrence was such a leader out there on the court for us, Kristen Habbel was very patient and played a smart game, and Jordan Ogden is playing so tough for us after just getting injured recently.
"We rode the girls a little in the locker room at halftime. They worked so hard to just let this go and we told them they had to dig deep. This was a huge win for us. Not only is it the first time we’ve beaten Downingtown East in the eight years I’ve been here, it was also big because it keeps us in position to have a shot to get into the Final Four Tournament."
Bishop Shanahan 26, Downingtown East 23
BISHOP SHANAHAN: Cusick 2 0-0 4, Lawrence 2 1-4 5, Ogden 3 0-0 6, Habbel 0 0-0 0, Parker 4 2-2 10, Wirshup 0 1-2 1, Dreiling 0 0-2 0. Totals: 11 4-10 26.
DOWNINGTOWN EAST: Van Eyken 2 2-2 6, Warfel 2 7-11 11, Kent 3 0-0 6, McKinley 0 0-0 0, Sheron 0 0-0 0. Totals: 7 9-13 23.
Bishop Shanahan 4 1 14 7 -- 26
Downingtown East 2 12 3 6 -- 23
3-point goals: none.