After two lackluster performances in a row, Upper Dublin knew that it would have to play a great game against Central Bucks South in order to earn a spot in the state tournament. The Lady Cardinals had their best game of the postseason, but fell short of advancing in the end.
It was a back-and-forth affair, but clutch shooting and solid defense gave CB South an edge in the Titans 35-32 win over Upper Dublin on Saturday afternoon. The two sides traded leads and big shots throughout the contest, but it was South which emerged victorious when the dust settled. The Lady Cardinals played good defense and definitely improved on offense, but it just wasn't enough.
"I think we showed a lot of confidence in the last quarter,' South coach Beth Mattern said. "I liked the way we finished the game. There was a lot at stake today and it showed, both teams worked really hard. We accomplished what we wanted to do.'
It was a close game throughout, so the result came down to the fourth quarter. The Lady Cardinals had a slim one-point lead heading into the final frame, but knew that they would have to put the ball in the basket if they wanted to hold off South.
"It was good that we didn't go out on the CB East game, we had a much more respectable showing,' Upper Dublin coach Morgan Funsten said. "We played good defense as we always do. To hold them to 35 points, I think we deserved to win the game, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way.'
South's Emma Gady hit a pair of huge three pointers, but they were countered by a trey from Larissa Leyes. At one point, Upper Dublin built a five-point lead, its biggest of the game, only to see it disappear soon after. After two free throws from South's Alicia Lofton, Allison Chernow hit a triple to bring the Lady Cardinals within one point with 14 seconds remaining.
However, Chloe Entenberg had ice water in her veins, burying two free throws to put the Titans up three points with just a few seconds left in the game. Upper Dublin managed a pair of possessions, but could not convert the opportunities into points. It was a tough end for a team that was considered one of the best in the area during the regular season.
"I thought we played really well today,' Funsten said. "It's tough because the girls put forth so much effort and played really good defense. We wanted to keep their two big scorers down and we did. We wanted to make some shots today and we did. They just made some big shots down the stretch.'
Upper Dublin struggled in the first quarter, pushing its streak of consecutive single-digit periods to six, but found new life in the second. The Lady Cardinals produced 13 points, including six by Julie Cross and five from Leyes. The home side also held their opponents to just six points, going into halftime confident with a three-point lead.
However, the offensive well went dry again in the third quarter. Once again, Upper Dublin proved its worth on defense and held the Titans to just six points, but scored only four of its own. The Lady Cardinals went into the final eight minutes with a one point lead, but it was South's night.
"It really comes down to the conference we play in,' Mattern said. "We play a lot of good teams who have good three-point shooters. Upper Dublin can shoot, we knew that. You can't let one play determine the outcome. You have to keep pushing forward and we did that. I feel like we have been an underdog all season and we relish that role.'
While the loss stings now, Funsten hopes his girls, particularly the seniors, can look back on this season and the past few seasons with their heads held high.
"You look for the positives in the end,' Funsten said. "Over the last few years, these girls have accomplished a lot. They have two league titles, we made a great run in districts last season and got into states. We fell a little short of that this year. The girls have had a lot of ups and downs this year. The mental toughness of this team was tested down the stretch. It hurts, but I think in a few weeks when the sting is gone, I think we'll be proud.'
Central Bucks South (35): Gady 3 0-0 8; Dunn 3 0-0 6; Mosher 3 0-2 6; Entenberg 1 2-2 4; Vitelli 2 2-2 7; Lofton 0 4-4 4. Totals: 12 8-10 35
Upper Dublin (32): Cross 3 1-2 7; Leyes 3 0-0 8; Gallagher 2 2-6 6; Chernow 1 2-2 5; Linus 1 0-0 2; Lillo 1 0-0 2; Senior 1 0-1 2; Balasa 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 5-11 32
Three-point goals: Gady (2), Vitelli; Leyes (2), Chernow
Central Bucks South 10 6 6 13—35
Upper Dublin 6 13 4 9—32