In the first Catholic League Semifinals matchup of the evening, the Cardinal O’Hara High School girls’ basketball team came away with a 57-42 victory over Neumann Goretti at Philadelphia University Feb. 23.
Senior Mackenzie Gardler was on fire for the Cardinal O’Hara Lion’s offense, leading all scorers in the contest with 19 points. Ten of Gardler’s points came in the first half, as she was an integral part of the 30-18 lead that O’Hara built by the end of the second quarter.
Senior Hannah Nihill began the game playing the role of pass first point guard, dishing out five assists in the second quarter, a period that proved to be the matchup’s turning point. After holding a slim 11-8 lead by the end of the first, O’Hara outscored Neumann Goretti 19-10 in the second and took control of the pace of play.
Junior shooting guard Maura Hendrixson was also a steady contributor on offense in the first half, knocking down two deep three pointers and driving to the basket for a layup in traffic.
Chyna Nixon, Neumann Goretti’s go to player on offense, did her best to keep her team in the game. Nixon scored 12 of her teams 18 points in the first half. She hit three pointers on back-to-back possession for Neumann Goretti, near the midway point of the second quarter, to cut its deficit to 22-16. However, O’Hara had too many shooters rolling as Hendrixson answered with a three of her own.
Nuemann was able to cut O’Hara’s lead to eight points a few times early on in the third quarter, but O’Hara answered with a basket each time and never allowed Nuemann to come within two possessions.
The dagger for Nuemann occurred with 34 seconds remaining in the third. With the score 41-31 in favor of O’Hara, a technical was assessed to Nuemann’s bench, which sent Gardler to the charity stripe for two freebies. Gardler converted on both of her free throws, and O’Hara took a 43-31 lead into the fourth.
With the momentum in their favor, O’Hara was able to further separate itself from Nuemann in the fourth. Senior Mary Sheehan opened the fourth quarter with a layup to increase O’Hara’s lead to 45-31. After that, O’Hara began to slow things down.
The Lions got the ball at the six-minute mark in the fourth, and worked it around without a shot attempt until the 4:44 clip when Gardler was fouled. Gardler made one of her two free throws, giving O’Hara a 46-31 lead.
Neumann responded with a basket, but they were forced to play the foul game and sent Gardler back to the line. This time, Gardler made both of her shots and gave her team a 48-33 lead with 3:33 to play. The game was virtually out of reach for Nuemann after that point, and O’Hara cruised to a 57-42 victory.
To compliment Gardler, Hendrixson finished with 14 points and Nihill reached double digits, scoring 10.
O’Hara advanced to finals, where they will take on Archbishop Wood High School at the Palestra Monday, Feb. 27.
(Photo Credit: Wave Lane)