If New Hope-Solebury girls basketball fans were nervous about the outcome of Friday night’s PIAA Class 3A tournament opener, it didn’t last too long.
Running out to leads of 5-0 and 15-4 in the first quarter and 38-8 at halftime, the District One champions cruised from there to a 54-24 win over visiting Julia R. Masterman of Philadelphia.
Unfortunately for NH-S (18-8), its season then ended in Tuesday night’s 64-54 second-round loss to powerful District Three champion Lancaster Catholic (25-2) in a game played at Bethlehem’s Liberty High School.
In Friday night’s Lions’ win that ended the season for Masterman (18-2), NH-S was led by senior Reagan Chrencik’s 21 points and sophomore Izzy Elizondo’s 15. Both played less than three quarters as Lions’ head coach Steve Polinsky substituted liberally after the game’s first few minutes.
A tight, smothering NH-S defense made it tough for the Dragons to get good shots, and when they did the attempts were frequently errant. On offense, the Lions worked the ball smartly around the Masterman defense, and took advantage of forced turnovers leading to fast break layups.
“We played really well as a team right off the bat,” Chrencik said. “We had a really good rhythm from the start. Everyone off the bench, all our starters contributed to this win today.
“Going into every game, we have the same mindset. Play as hard as you can to the final buzzer no matter what the score is. I was so happy to see our second team play a lot. Every one of them works so hard in practice. I love everyone I play with.”
Included in Chrencik’s 21 points was a trio of 3-pointers while Elizondo hit two from beyond the arc. Emily Wilson scored all of her seven points in the second quarter, including two 3-pointers.
“Our team has been so strong and playing so well,” Elizondo said. “Our main goal every time we step on the floor is just push and push until we get a lead, and then keep on going. It makes us be disciplined because we don’t want to lose our leads.”
Polinsky said NH-S had good practices in the two weeks since the District One championship game win over Bristol, and it showed Friday night.
“They were ready to play,” he said. “They wanted to play hard and get a win in front of this home crowd, and they did. Even up by so much, they were still focused and doing the right things, and that’s important to me as a coach.”
Naiima Jabati led Masterman with nine points while Sophia Brunelli added seven and Jocelyn Goldstein six. Dragons head coach Vic Otarola watched his team fall for only the second time all season.
“New Hope is a very good team and very well coached,” he said. “I think the spotlight got to our players a little tonight. It wasn’t our night, but I’m still proud of our players and the year we had.”
Chrencik led the Lions with 19 points while Wilson added 17 against Lancaster Catholic in Tuesday’s second-round contest.
“We played a great game and just came out on short end of the stick,” Polinsky said. “So proud of this bunch. They played their hearts out tonight.”