WYNCOTE, PA –
They saved the best for last at Cheltenham High School on Thursday night, as the Plymouth-Whitemarsh Colonials defeated the Council Rock North, 60-47, in a PIAA 6A girls basketball battle in front of a raucous crowd. PW star junior guard Taylor O’Brien put on a show, finishing with 31 points; 13 coming in the first half and 12 in the third quarter, with half of those scored in the final 5.5 seconds of the period.
This one had a strange start to it as the home team, CR North, wore their road dark blue jerseys and were assessed a technical foul before the game started. PW made 1-of-2 and then received possession without a jump ball to start the game, and made a jumper to give the Colonials a 3-0 lead right off the bat.
A three-pointer by CR North’s Rebecca Morgolis gave the Indians their first lead of the game at the five-minute mark of the first quarter, 5-4. A back-and-forth first quarter ended with a fastbreak layup and-one for O’Brien, to give the Colonials a 15-11 at the end of one quarter of play.
CR North couldn’t seem to get their offense going in the second quarter and Plymouth-Whitemarsh had a 20-11 lead through three minutes of play. Finally, the ice was broken for the Indians at the 4:10 mark when Olivia Boyle knocked down a three from the right-wing. With both teams missing shots during the quarter, a big put back on a missed shot by Mackenzie Tinner at the buzzer gave CR North some momentum heading into the locker room despite trailing PW, 24-20, at intermission.
After CR North cut the PW lead to two on two made free throws by Emily Mackin, O’Brien started to take over with scoring the first four for her Colonials in the third quarter. But following a timeout by Indians head coach Lou Palkovics, Dana Bandurick and Rebecca Margolis had back-to-back layups to cut the PW lead back to two. The Colonials responded immediately with a put back layup by Victoria Betterly off an O’Brien miss.
But the biggest part of the third quarter, and perhaps the entire game, was the final 5.5 seconds when PW lead CR North by six points, 32-26. The sequence of events to come driven mostly by O’Brien would change the tone of the entire game.
O’Brien drove across the lane, hit a one-handed runner and drew the foul. After making the free throw with 2.2 seconds remaining, O’Brien stole the ball from CR North at the left-wing, threw up a prayer and hit the three-pointer as time expired to give Plymouth-Whitemarsh a 38-26 lead at the end of three quarters. That six-point swing would ultimately prove to be too much for Council Rock North to overcome in the 4th quarter and Plymouth-Whitemarsh closed things out with free throws in the final two minutes.
“I was like let me just chuck it up and see what happens and sure enough…it’s just crazy,” O’Brien said reflecting on her desperation heave at the end of the third quarter. “Just being able to end the quarter like that and then coming out from the rip knowing what we wanted to do and what we wanted to accomplish that quarter…and finish the game strong.”
Plymouth-Whitemarsh will now advance to the quarterfinals and face another Suburban One foe in Souderton, who defeated CB South 40-27 on Thursday night.
“This win was amazing,” O’Brien exclaimed. “But we have to keep on moving, there’s more games to win and more places to go. So we have to keep our heads intact and just work to get another next time.”
(Photo Credit: Amanda Dedieu)