MARPLE – In a game full of upperclassmen, naturally it was a freshman who stole the show.
Cardinal O’Hara’s Brigidanne Donohue, making just her second career start, hit the biggest shot of Friday’s game against Germantown Academy but only after hitting the game’s two other biggest shots on the previous two possessions. Donohue’s back-to-back-to-back threes were part of a 10-point fourth quarter by the freshman and tilted a close game between two quality teams.
The Lions ended their holiday tournament with a win, fending off GA 42-37 on Friday to remain unbeaten on the year.
“The refs were letting us play and that’s what it came down to,” O’Hara coach Chrissie Doogan said. “I told the girls you get into them a little bit and be a little more physical. It was a good game, they have a lot of seniors, we have a lot of seniors, so it was a good way to test the maturity of the team.”
Donahue and junior Molly Rullo tied for the Lions’ (9-0) lead with 13 points each. Sophomore Megan Rullo added nine points, four rebounds and six assists while senior Carly Coleman notched seven points for the Lions, who only got scoring from four players but contributions from all eight who saw minutes.
Germantown Academy (9-2) was paced by 18 from senior Isabella Casey, who added nine rebounds. Junior Gabby Bowes added nine and junior Jess Kolecki had six for GA, which saw an eight-game win streak snapped and dropped to 9-2 on the year.
Playing O’Hara at O’Hara was a definite test and first year coach Lauren Power believes it’s one her team will benefit from.
“My message to my team was just that I was really proud of their effort and their intensity,” Power said. “We knew it was going to come down to the defensive end and they made a couple plays. I was proud of the way that we played and I think the things that didn’t go well for us are easily fixable, so I feel good about that.”
Overall, the game was very well-played and at a pretty quick pace. Neither side was whistled for many fouls, the Patriots only getting there when they had to start putting Cardinal O’Hara on the line in the fourth quarter and both teams stayed within a few possessions the entire way.
Kolecki had a layup to beat the first quarter horn for a 10-10 tie, the Lions responding when Molly Rullo hit Megan Rullo for a go-ahead layup in the waning seconds of the first half. O’Hara, boosted by Donohue’s first score of the game, took a 26-20 lead in the third, but GA cut back to within 28-26 going to the final stanza when Casey scored off a nifty find by Kolecki ahead of the horn.
“This is one of the toughest environments you can have to play in,” Power said. “It’s a road game in the Catholic League, you’d have to look hard to find a tougher opponent than O’Hara and all things considered, you never want to walk out with an ‘L’ but I think you learn more in the losses and this game’s going to come back to really help us.”
GA pulled in front early in the fourth when Bowes drained a three off a Jess Aponik assist. That 31-28 lead held for about three minutes with defense reigning for both sides.
Then it would be the Donohue show. The freshman is only starting due to an injury to O’Hara senior Joanie Quinn, the La Salle recruit stepping in pregame to make sure her understudy knew the whole team was behind her.
“Joanie just said to her ‘you’re ready, this is your time’” Doogan said. “I think it was fun for everybody, the crowd, her family was here, to kind of see her have that moment.”
Megan Rullo got the shot-making display going, the sophomore saving a tipped pass under the hoop and kicking to Donohue in the corner for the tying three in front of the Lions bench. After a stop, Rullo Donohue connected again, this time off a baseline inbound with a screen flaring Donohue open on the opposite wing for the go-ahead three.
One more stop and one more inbound play, this one helped by an extra pass from Molly Rullo, got Donohue a look from straight on that she of course sank for nine points in about 70 seconds.
“Shooter’s gotta shoot,” Doogan said. “She missed her first couple then nailed her last three. She’s a confident kid, I’ve seen her play since she was in fifth or sixth grade and nothing fazes her.
“It’s the same face, you’d never know if anything’s bothering her. For her to step in and have that confidence was awesome.”
The Patriots took the shots, then almost immediately cut the lead back to just two at 37-35. O’Hara’s defense really buckled in, the Lions not caring if it was a five-second call, a tip or deflection, a steal or just a rebound off a miss, and put together enough stops over the final two minutes to lock in their 10th win of the season.
“We’ll look at this closely and see what could we fix, what could we do better but O’Hara is so disciplined and so poise and that’s something down the stretch we need to continue to play together,” Power said. “We had a couple miscommunications, we knew Brigidanne was a player and a good shooter, we had a couple breakdowns and left her open.”
Cardinal O’Hara 42, Germantown Academy 37
Germantown Academy 10 8 8 11 – 37
Cardinal O’Hara 10 9 9 14 – 42
Germantown Academy: Isabella Casey 18, Gabby Bowes 9, Jess Kolecki 6, Jess Aponik 2, Jenna Aponik 2.
Cardinal O’Hara: Molly Rullo 13, Brigidanne Donohue 13, Megan Rullo 9, Carly Coleman 7.