Unionville girls struggle, lose in tourney final

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Outgunned by Haverford, Indians drop a 60-39 decision

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

Unionville's Kelsey McDonald drives to the hoop against Haverford during the finals of the Unionville Holiday tournament. The Indians lost, 60-39.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — As the old saving goes, sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes the bug. You’ll excuse the Unionville High girls’ basketball team if they feel a bit like they got hit with the entire bus.

Shorthanded by injury and illness and unable to ever find their rhythm on offense, the Indians dropped a 60-39 decision to Haverford in the finals of the Unionville Holiday Tournament, Wednesday night. Maybe the loss and inconsistent play was all the more surprising a night after Unionville easily handled a talented Frankford team in the tournament opener.

The Indians (5-3) had three players out with injury, one more down with illness and were missing a fifth who was on a family trip. That forced head coach Anthony Zambino to try and play zone defense — in attempt to keep his depleted forces reasonably fresh.

That didn’t work — the Fords were red hot from from the perimeter. Jaclyn Gantz scored 10 of her game-high 17 points in the second quarter, exploiting the open looks she was getting from the zone. Back court mate Jill Root — who used speed and moves to dice and slice the Indians all night — added 14 points of her own.

Unionville's Kelsey McDonald dishes off to the corner against Haverford.

Root was a real matchup problem — freshman Allison Lewis tried to fill in at point and guard her, but both as young player and playing out of position (the 5-9 Lewis is really a small forward). Although Lewis showed flashes — and at times looked exceptional for a freshman playing varsity — she was in over her head against the tiny, but lightning quick Root. Interestingly, Unionville beat Haverford last year — without Root in the lineup, but otherwise the same starting cast.

If that weren’t enough — Unionville had a bad night in the paint, missing more than 20 layups and inside shots. Some of the issue was the presence of Haverford center Chelci Asbury who stopped up the middle and forced a lot of trajectory changes on shots near the basket. While that was some of the issue — the Indians missed a number of open shots, too.

“We stole the ball four times in a row and got nothing — that’s eight points right there,” Zambino said. “You’ve got to make those layups.”

Still, the early going suggested it might not be a bad night at all for Unionville. The Indians raced out to a 5-0 lead before Asbury scored three straight baskets from inside. Unionville took its final lead of the game midway through the first quarter on a Susie Pancost basket — and then extended it to 10-6  on Moira McEvoy’s basket and foul shot. Although Haverford took a 16-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, Unionville was firmly still in the game.

Unionville's Allison Lewis passes off to Carni Redfern during Wednesday night's loss to Haverford.

That changed in the second quarter when Gantz unleashed her aerial attack — including two three-pointers — scoring a total 10 points in the quarter, as the Fords turned a two-point game into a 14-point game in short order. Up 33-21 at the half, Haverford never looked back.

Zambino, although a little frustrated afterward, said he understood how undermanned his team was and that it might have been a little gassed after Tuesday night’s win. He said they’ll try to keep things in perspective and move on, as there’s a long season ahead.

“We have to learn from our mistakes,” he said. “We’re not going to worry about it too much because it’s not a league game. We’re focusing on Rustin,which is Tuesday night. We’ve got to rebound — we’ve rebounded before. We had a bad game against Great Valley and then we came back and beat up on Oxford.”

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