In the first matchup between local Catholic girls basketball powers Friday, defense took center stage, and visiting Bishop McDevitt survived a final 3-point attempt that bounded off the iron to hang on for a 30-29 Mid-Penn Capital win over host Trinity.
With younger players, both teams entered the contest still learning when to force the issue offensively and when to calm down and take their time. Bishop McDevitt has struggled offensively this year after losing Taja Colbert (Shippensburg University) and three other senior players.
Trinity lost ace Lauren Trumpy just prior to the season to a knee injury, suffered during the fall volleyball campaign. The Shamrocks also lost sharpshooter Ava Stevenson (William and Mary) and do-everything guard Jaylin Moore to graduation.
Despite the lack of experience, both teams entered Friday’s contest unbeaten in the Capital Division.
Trinity (2-1 Capital, 4-4 overall) trailed through most of the game, as the Shamrocks’ offensive game stalled beyond the 3-point arc. The Shamrocks were 0 for 11 from distance at the half, and only 4 for 18 inside the paint, where they had several offensive rebounds.
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McDevitt (5-0 Capital, 5-5 overall) lost four of its games to Class 5 or Class 6A schools and got a jump start from Kennedy O’Brien, who was forced to sit out last year by the PIAA due to a transfer ruling after two solid years at Red Land as a freshman and sophomore.
“We have to rely on defense to fuel our offense, but being so young, we are still trying to find that balance of when to go and when we need to hold the ball a bit,” said Crusader coach Joel Falcone. “We lost four starters last year and we only have about 7-8 points returning from last year. I thought we played good defense tonight and were able to get some points from the defense, but we forced too many shots when we didn’t need them.”
O’Brien, a senior leader on the Crusaders, scored nine points in the opening half to give the McDevitt a 16-11 lead.
Trinity battled back and finally knocked down a few shots and a 3-pointer by Elaina Beckett to tie the game at 27. Sophia Formica hit one of two at the line for Bishop McDevitt, and Mandy Roman hit a bucket to give the Shamrocks a 29-28 lead.
Sanai Moore stepped to the line with 1:58 remaining and calmly drained two free throws for the game-tying and go-ahead points.
Each team had several attempts in the final 90 seconds, but the ball wouldn’t fall.
“We will call that a good defensive game between two teams,” Shamrock coach Kristi Britten said. “Offensively, we need to shoot a lot better because we had many chance on putbacks and offensive rebounds. O’Brien is a nice player, and she did make a difference tonight.”