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Girls basketball: CB West wins opener, bows in PIAA second round


There is no “I” in “team.” Or in “Central Bucks West” for that matter.

The 2019-2020 CB West Bucks assembled a commendable resume: They swept the SOL Continental, they won the entire Suburban One League and they earned the District One championship.

And all of it was truly a team effort. The Bucks won seven straight postseason games this winter. Six different girls were a game high scorer in those wins.

On Friday night, West (25-5) thumped District Three’s Hempfield (19-9) 49-32 at Council Rock South to claim its first state playoff win in five seasons. But the road ended on Tuesday in the PIAA quarterfinal against District 11’s Bethlehem Freedom (24-5) in Pottsgrove. The Patriots won 60-47 after West got into early foul trouble.

Freedom faces District Three’s Central York in Friday’s state quarterfinal.

All five West starters made an all SOL-Continental team- either first, second or honorable mention. “We’re really confident in each other,” guard Anna Blue shared. “We trust each other and I think that is what brings out our momentum. We trust anyone we put out there to handle the ball and play their best.”

“The confidence level is up. We have a lot of confidence in each other and we’re all ready to keep it rolling,” point guard Olivia Irons echoed on Friday.

West looked formidable in their manhandling of Hempfield. “There were some things we can clean up execution wise but I thought we played a good game,” West coach Zach Sibel assessed Friday. “We pressed early. We rotated. We did some things that we hadn’t done in a bit so to see them step up and do that right away was awesome.

“It was kind of a whacky game but we have a state playoff win, which was a first for anybody in that locker room,” Sibel continued. “That is another memory that we get to make together.”

The Bucks, who never trailed on Friday, raced out to a 6-0 lead when Emily Spratt sandwiched two layups between a Paige Gilbert putback. West led 10-4 once a choppy first quarter ended.

Spratt scored the first five points of the second quarter. “It is all based off of our teammates looking for us in the post,” said forward Spratt, who finished with a game high 17 points. “Lily (Evans) had an awesome pass to me and all I had to was make a layup. Half of the shots I made were off of fantastic passes.”

The Buck defense remained airtight as they took a 23-8 lead into halftime. The key was “definitely communicating,” Irons relayed. “We knew they were going to be a physical and quick team with cutting so we had to concentrate on getting stops and communicating with each other through all of the chaos.”

Spratt’s two free throws with 3:04 left in the third not only gave West its largest lead to date at 32-12, but also gave her 13 points … more than all of Hempfield.

West continued to pull away; Gilbert’s steal and layup made the game 46-18 – West’s largest lead – with 4:15 remaining. “We scrimmaged each other in practice and wanted to keep the energy up,” Blue explained. “We talked about how to guard who and prepared mentally too.”

Gilbert scored 10 and added seven rebounds. Irons tallied nine points and dished out three assists.

“Our rebounding went really well. Paige is such a great energy source and Jess (Broskey) didn’t feel that great today but she pushed through and played really well,” Spratt praised. “Maddie (Burke) probably didn’t score as much as she would have liked but we wouldn’t have been in that game unless she is communicating, doing great things on defense and rebounding.

“And the bench is really encouraging,” Spratt continued. “If I miss a layup, they’ll yell ‘Keep going! You’re good!’”

Every Buck saw action on Friday. “When you can get freshmen involved in the end, that’s cool. That’s a testament to this team and their togetherness,” Sibel stated. “The starters wanted everybody to play. Everyone can say that they got into a state playoff win.”