The make or break time has arrived for high school basketball teams. Battling to make playoffs, squads will either succumb to the pressure or rise to meet the challenge. The Lady Falcons of Pennsbury definitely belong to the rising squads.
Last season, the Falcons boasted a 19-8 overall record under the tutelage of Frank Sciolla. This year Pennsbury hoped to better that mark. They currently hold a 15-3 overall record and rank second in the Suburban One League National Division with 9-1 record. More Importantly, the team has really solidified winning 13 of their last 14 games. Their only loss was a heartbreaking 44-42 tussle with the undefeated league leader, Neshaminy.
During that span the Falcons have given up 40 or more points to their opponents only three times. They have also averaged 54 points-per-game. The combination of tenacious defense and opportunistic offense has proven nearly unbeatable. Ava Sciolla, who earned all-league honors as a freshman, leads the Falcons on both ends of the court. She is joined in the starting five by Bella Acruri, Mary Miller, Abbi Nassivera and Mia Spinelli.
In their recent meeting with Council Rock South the Falcons put their basketball prowess on display. The Golden Hawks, who sported a 5-4 league record, were battling Bensalem for third place in the National Division. Both teams sought a win in this key match-up. Pennsbury wanted at least a piece of the SOL crown. Council Rock wanted to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The first quarter presented fans with a seesaw battle. The Hawks Hannah Binder stepped beyond the arc and nailed a trey to give the South a 3-0 lead. Ava Sciolla and Mary Miller answered for the Falcons with back-to-back layups.
Miller would continue to be a force under the offensive boards, scoring 7 first period points. The senior certainly lived up to Falcon guard Bella Arcuri’s appraisal. “The seniors are like our best friends. They treat the underclassmen as little sisters. They do a good job taking this team and leading by example.”
Ava Sciolla, who also netted 7 first quarter points, felt the Falcons were not playing their best basketball. “I was disappointed with myself in the first quarter because I could have been better in the backcourt and communicating defensively. Myself and the team started picking it up, communicating more, switching screens and getting to gaps. Once we pick up our defense our offense follows.”
In the second quarter Pennsbury’s man-to-man defense blanketed the Golden Hawk shooters and prevented them from driving to the basket. After South’s Montanna Chambers nailed a three pointer to open the action, the Hawk shooters went cold and did not tally the rest of the quarter. On the other end of the court, Mary Miller kept up her torrid pace netting 10 more points to give the Falcons a 30-17 halftime lead.
Ava explained the Falcons upsurge saying, “Communication was the biggest thing. When we’re flowing on defense that gets down to transition and we are a better team when we’re moving fast and getting the ball up the floor.”
In the third quarter, Ava Sciolla and Bella Arcuri took charge. Sciolla scored 8 of her game high 22 points. She also contributed 12 rebounds, four assists and four rebounds to the Falcon cause. Arcuri tallied eleven points, nine in the second half. Mary Miller would end up recording 17 points, four rebounds, and three assists for the night. Nicole Blaustein led the Hawks with 11 points.
Pennsbury continued to dominate in the final frame, once again limiting the Golden Hawks to three points and allowing both coaches to sub freely with three minutes left in the game.
The 59-35 victory proved an important step for the Falcon’s. Not only did they maintain their momentum but they moved closer to a higher seeding in the district playoffs, a standing that may not be determined until their final season clash with archrival Neshaminy.