The New Hope-Solebury Lions raced to a 7-0 lead and never looked back, defeating host William Tennent 39-29 Saturday afternoon for their seventh straight win.
It was the second time this season that NH-S topped a Suburban One team. The Lions will get a chance for a third on Jan. 19 against Bensalem.
“Obviously playing against better talent makes us better,” said NH-S’ Rachel Saxton, who scored in double figures for the fifth time in seven games. “When we walk into a huge school, we don’t let that discourage us. We’re a good team. We might not be tall this year, but we’ll let our intensity and toughness take over the game.”
A runner and three from Jordyn Sherman, plus a Kate Dougherty layup built the early lead. Tennent didn’t score until over six minutes into the game.
The Lions forced Tennent’s offense to “one and done” shooting through strong defensive rebounding. Tennent struggled to score in the paint.
“We were in our two losses the whole time because of our defense,” said Lion coach Andy Krasna. “Our offense is getting better now. We have a double-edged sword: it’s a great thing because they are multi-sport and multi-talented kids. But as a basketball coach, you’d love to have them in the gym in the summer and fall.”
NH-S finally got hot late in the second quarter. Saxton hit two threes and dished to Zoe Palau for a third trey. In 80 seconds, an 11-7 Lion lead expanded to 20-9, the halftime score.
“We feed off of each other, definitely,” Palau said.
Saxton sandwiched two jumpers around a Palau-assisted, Sabrina Vlahovic layup, increasing NH-S’ lead to 26-9. Dougherty’s layup made the score 30-16; the bucket closed both a 5-0 Tennent run and third quarter scoring.
The Lions have yielded just 28.5 points per game during the win streak.
“Our defense drives our offense,” Palau explained. “We’re an athletic team. If we can get steals, we can run on teams so we always have to keep our intensity up. That is something the coaches push into us: to keep our intensity up and play hard for four quarters.”
“Coach does not want us to give up second-chance shots,” Vlahovic added. “Our whole idea is boxing out, rebounding, pushing the ball and hustling on every play. We’ll dive for balls. We’ll do anything we can to prevent them from scoring.”
All Lion starters contributed significantly. Saxton’s 16 led all scorers while Dougherty added nine points and five rebounds. Palau’s seven rebounds and five assists led the team, as did Vlahovic’s three steals. Sherman had two assists to go with five points.
“We got Jordyn back in the line-up and she can make perimeter shots,” Krasna said. “Today, we encouraged her to look for those and she came through for us. Kate Dougherty is a tremendous athlete. All of the lacrosse she plays translates to basketball. She sees the floor really well.”
The Lions’ run started on Dec. 15 with a 39-17 rout of Conwell-Egan. NH-S (10-2, 4-1 Bicentennial) extended the streak to eight on Tuesday night with a 52-20 pasting of Morrisville behind Saxton’s 27 points.
“Our defense drives us,” Vlahovic feels. “How we do on defense reflects how we do on offense. If we’re 100 percent on defense, we’re 100 percent on offense.”
“As both girls said, our defense wins games,” Saxton echoed. “When we scout teams, we aren’t focused on our player. We read everyone.”
“Our biggest strength is our unselfishness,” Krasna concluded. “We find people when they are open and not worry about who is scoring the points. On the other end of the floor, there is a mental and physical toughness. They don’t get intimidated.”
The Lions return to action Thursday night against Bicentennial rival Phil-Mont Christian.