So far, the Falcon Basketball Express appears pretty unstoppable. Two rounds into the PIAA state playoffs, Pennsbury has been a dominating force, downing Red Lion 45-24 and Owen J Roberts 50-27. Only the postponement due to the Coronavirus concerns interrupted their torrid pace.
The Falcons rise to basketball heights has been most impressive. Four years ago, Pennsbury recorded a 3-9 Suburban One League record, one of a series of losing seasons. Three years ago, they went 6-6 and made it to the playoffs for the first time in ten years. Last year, they posted a 9-5 league mark, good enough to earn a home playoff game.
This year the Falcons have soared to even greater heights. They posted a 23-5 overall record. They went 11-1 in the SO National Conference, good enough to share the crown with archrival Neshaminy. Pennsbury downed the ‘Skins 42-32 to gain co-champ honors on the last day of the regular season. They continued their winning ways right up until the district one championship game where they lost to Central Bucks West 42-36, their first defeat in nine straight games.
The most impressive part about the Falcons is their relative youth. They list only one senior starter, Mary Miller, in their staring lineup. One might expect some errors due to inexperience to creep into the play. Such is not the case. Every game seems to feature a new hero rising to meet the challenge.
Sophomore Ava Sciolla leads the Falcon offense. The 5’ 11” guard averages 14.0 points per game, with 9.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Senior Mary Miller and sophomore Nicole Pompili share second place scoring honors with 9.5 points per game. Junior point guard Bella Acruri adds 6.7 points per game to the Falcon attack.
Determined not to lose again, Pennsbury entered the state playoff on fire. On the opening tap, Bella Arcuri grabbed the ball, raced to the basket and scored with 5 seconds gone in the game. The onslaught continued with Mary Miller and Ava Sciolla hitting back-to-back baskets. Mia Spinelli then found a cutting Nicole Pompili for an easy layup giving the Flacons an 8-0 lead and prompting Red Lion to call a timeout. The strategy failed to alter the Falcon’s flight. Ava Sciolla hit two straight treys to close out the first quarter with Pennsbury ahead 16-4.
The Falcons continued their offensive display, taking a 26-6 lead into the locker room. The third quarter proved a different story as Pennsbury appeared to ease up, leaving coach Frank Sciolla to say. “I as concerned at halftime. There was a general malaise in the locker room that told me that we felt we had this game won. That might be normal in mid-January, but in a state game, you have to keep the pedal to the medal.”
The coach did praise the rebounding effort put in by Mia Spinelli who snagged 4 offensive rebounds. Mia explained her success in her post game interview. “My first goal is just to find a body and that’s what I’ve tried to get better on. That’s what I was doing and that’s why I got so many rebounds in that game.”
Summing up the big victory, Mia also added, “It’s all of us playing together as a team. Its my first year here so that’s what I started to experience. I’m just really proud of us that we got here.”
Playing as a team definitely carried over to the second round game against Owen J Roberts. The Falcons went on top by a 24-9 halftime score. Again, rebounding was a big part of Pennsbury’s attack Ava Sciolla had 10 rebounds followed by Abbi Nassivera with 5. Nicole Pompili and Bella Arcuri shared scoring honors with 10 points apiece. They were followed by Ava Sciolla with 9 points. Perhaps the most dramatic shot came from Makayla Bethea who nailed a three pointer as time ran out in the first half.
The 50-27 win sets up an elite eight game against Cardinal O’Hara. Unfortunately, as wisely mandated by the PIAA Board of Directors, both teams will have to wait at least two weeks for action to resume.