Hill scores 21 to power Kennett past Oxford
● By Steven Hoffman
When Oxford freshman Madeline Williams hit a short jumper to tie the score at 24-24 with 6:54 left in the Jan. 27 game against Kennett, it seemed as if momentum might be swinging the Hornets’ way.
It took mere seconds for Kennett to respond as they pushed the ball up court and junior guard Miranda Hill knocked down a three-pointer from five feet beyond the arc to reclaim the lead.
On Kennett’s next trip down the floor, Hill followed up her own shot with a basket to make it 29-24. Then, following a turnover by Oxford, Hill connected on another long three-pointer to give her team an eight-point lead that it wouldn’t relinquish.
“She has really hit some big shots for us,” Kennett coach Vince Cattano said of Hill after watching his team defeat Oxford, 41-30, in front of an appreciative home crowd. “Miranda is having a solid year for us. She works hard. She has a good mindset to score—she’s got the scorer’s mentality.”
Early on, it appeared as if the two teams were destined to repeat their first clash, which was decided by just two points. Oxford won that game, and got off to a good start in the rematch as Grace Hennessey scored the first four points of the game.
Hill, who finished with a game-high 21 points, was hitting her shots all night, and gave Kennett its first lead of the game with a three-pointer with 3:06 left in the first quarter.
Kennett then capitalized on a turnover when Jess Hussey put in a lay-up, making it 7-4.
Thanks to hard work on the boards by Hennessey, Grace Tipton, and Hannah D’Aquanno, the Hornets were often getting multiple shots. The extra looks helped Oxford keep pace and the first quarter ended with Kennett leading by one point, 10-9.
Guard Hannah Bahls knocked down two three-pointers for Oxford early in the second quarter, but Hill answered for her team with a three-pointer, a lay-up, and then a jumper. When Caroline Hertz hit a three-pointer, Kennett held a 20-15 lead that it carried into the third quarter.
Oxford tenaciously battled back in the third quarter, when Hennessey scored four of her team-high 13 points. The Hornets cut the lead to one when Williams hit two free throws. But Kennett guard Vicky Gallivan connected on a jumper.
Later in the third, the Hornets had several opportunities to tie the score, but they were plagued by poor shooting from the charity stripe. Oxford made just 7 of 15 free-throw attempts in the game. Bahls pulled her team to within two with a free-throw in the final minute of the third quarter.
That set the stage for Williams to tie the score early in the fourth quarter, but then Hill put an exclamation point on her stellar game with three baskets.
Cattano said that Hill’s eight-point outburst helped propel his team to a win.
“That put us on a run,” he said.
Bahls hit a three-pointer for Oxford to briefly cut the lead to 36-30, but that's as close as Oxford got. Kennett hit five of six free throws down the stretch to close out the 41-30 win.
Cattano said that he was impressed with how his team shot from the free-throw line. He added that he felt that his team played well on defense. He noted that forward Deryn Schuck was handling multiple assignments as part of the zone defense, and did a good job—especially in the fourth quarter when Kennett pulled away.
Cattano said that the progress that his team is making is evident in the victories during the last week over Great Valley and Oxford, two teams that Kennett lost to earlier in the season. Kennett now has six wins on the season.
“These kids don’t quit,” Cattano explained.
Messick said the same thing about his Oxford team.
Oxford is getting significant contributions from Bahls, a junior, Hennessey, a sophomore, and three freshmen—Tipton, Williams, and D'Aquanno, so the future for the team is bright because they will have time to develop together.
“We’re a really young team,” Messick said. “And we’re still making some young team mistakes. We look to win every game, but we also know that we are learning and getting more experience across the board.”
Messick said that he wants his team to focus on reducing some of those young team mistakes, such as making unforced errors or not taking advantage of free throws. He wants the team to improve its passing and ball movement.
He said that he was impressed with how Oxford made Kennett work in the paint, despite the fact that Hussey is one of the top inside players in the league. Hennessey grabbed five offensive rebounds and three more on the defensive end for Oxford, while Tipton had 7 rebounds.
Oxford will close out the season by hosting Octorara on Feb. 3 and visiting Unionville on Feb. 5.