One certainty exists in high school basketball. When the playoffs roll around, the intensity rises. Each team, battling to extend their season, gives a total effort. The quarterfinal round of the PIAA District One girl’s tourney between Pennsbury and Methacton proved just such an affair.
The contest featured players diving on the floor for loose balls, going frantically under the boards for rebounds, and aggressively defending their opponent’s big scorers. When the final buzzer sounded the Falcons had prevailed by a 43-34 margin and earned the right to play the number one district seed Plymouth Whitemarsh in the district semifinal.
From the opening tap the game action was frenetic with each team’s defense proving nearly impenetrable. The effort, however, led to a parade to the charity stripe. The majority of the calls went against the hometown Falcons who at one point held a 9 to 4 disadvantage in fouls. Fortunately, the noise from the Pennsbury home crowd seemed to stymie the Lady Warriors who would convert only 3 of 11 foul shots. The game’s first score did come via a foul shot by Methacton’s Nicole Timco with 4:50 left in the first quarter.
Pennsbury, meanwhile, struggled on the offensive end of the court. The Lady Warriors successfully blanked the Falcon’s big weapon, Ava Sciolla, cutting off the lanes and forcing her to try quick hitters from outside.
A true competitor Ava found other ways to influence the game. As she would say in her postgame interview, “I figure if I’m not making shots, I need to make an impact on the game in another space whether it’s getting a stop or rebounding. So, I’m not going to allow a few shots to stop my game.”
Ava tallied Pennsbury’s first points with a nifty hook shoot with 1:09 left in the initial frame. She would then open up the second quarter nailing two free throws to give Pennsbury a 6-3 lead. She finished the afternoon with 13 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and a steal.
With the score tied at 13-13 going into halftime, the Falcons knew they were in for a rugged afternoon. Bella Arcuri, stellar junior point guard, summed up the scenario, saying, “We knew it was going to be physical. So, we had to come out of the locker room at halftime and just keep going with our physicality, just keep going at them on offense.”
Bella led the third quarter charge as the Falcons outscored the Lady Warriors by a 14-7 margin. She netted 12 of her game high 19 points in the second half. She was amply supported by junior Abbi Nassivera who contributed six points to the Falcon cause and pulled down seven hard-won rebounds. Sophomore Nicole Pompili had two points, 5 rebounds and two steals. Mary Miller rounded out Pennsbury’s scoring with 3 points, 3 rebounds and two steals.
The game’s turning point came when junior Emily Friel gathered in a rebound on a missed shot by Ava Sciolla. She then flipped an outlet pass to Nicole Pompili who found Sciolla for a wide open three. The key shot gave the Falcon’s a 27-20 lead, one they would hold the rest of the game. Pennsbury outscored the Lady Warriors 30-21 in the second half.
They even won the ‘foul-fest’ that continued right up to the end of the game. In all the two teams combined for 51 fouls and three technical fouls. According to Bella, “A big part of preparing for games is knowing what we’re going to have to do. So, we practice a lot of free throws. A lot of the beginning was on the line and the end two.”
The 43-34 victory advances the Falcon’s to within two games of district gold. Equally important, it definitely shows that they are ready to play in even the biggest atmosphere.