Unionville beats Kennett, 49-31 behind Pancoast's 18 points
By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
It was very likely that Miranda Hill and Jessica Hussey, the lone seniors on the Kennett girl's basketball team, entered into their game against arch-rival Unionville last Thursday night with no other expectation than that of capturing another victory, in what has been a winning season for the Blue Demons.
Coupled with that expectation, it was Senior Night and, owing to the usual custom, makeshift posters in tribute to Hill and Hussey adorned the side walls of the Reynolds gymnasium, so all that separated the pageantry from a perfect evening was success.
To no one's great surprise, Hill and Hussey were Kennett's top scorers with eight points each, but to no one's great surprise, Unionville's Sam Pancoast, also a senior, turned in a dominating, 18-point performance to lead the Indians to a 49-31 win. Using proper positioning and follow-up rebounding, Pancoast's points came mostly in the paint, while she boxed out effectively on the defensive end, leading to rebounds and fast breaks that kept Unionville in the lead from whistle to whistle.
Sophia Detweiler got the Indians on the board with a shot off of a rebound with 6:45 left in the first quarter, which was followed by two consecutive Unionville steals that stalled any early Kennett attempts at scoring. A three-pointer by Caroline Hertz with 4:20 left in the quarter finally put the Blue Demons in the scoring column, and with 3:30 left, a sparkling pass by Hill to Hussey in the paint pulled the Blue Demons to within two points of Unionville. With just seconds remaining in the first, Kennett freshman guard Andrea Prestianne's three-point shot closed Unionville's lead to 9-8.
Kennett mounted its only serious threat early in the second quarter, when it tied the score at 13 on a three-pointer by Melissa Houck, which was soon after met by a three-point jumper by Unionville junior Maddie Shanahan from the top of the key with five minutes remaining in the half. Thirty second later, Shanahan snared a rebound and followed it up for a basket to extend the Indians' lead to 19-13.
Meanwhile, it seemed a proverbial lid had been placed on the rim for Kennett in the first half, as they could only muster eight points each in the game's first two quarters, as shot after shot would not fall. Down 28-16 at halftime, Kennett was forced to find their collective shooting eye in the second half in order to mount any kind of comeback, but instead, they were held to just six points in the third quarter.
With 1:50 remaining in the third quarter – about 6:35 p.m. – an emergency alarm and flood lighting activated in the gymnasium, and minutes later, a gaseous odor was detected, coming from the area of the men's locker room. At 6:50 p.m., the gymnasium was evacuated, leaving both players and spectators to wait in the outside entrance area.
At 7 p.m., the Kennett Fire Company arrived on the scene. Matt Kelly, a senior guard on the Kennett boys basketball team, said that he was dressing in the mens' locker room for the second game of the Senior Night doubleheader with other members of the team, when he and his teammates noticed a black liquid dripping from the ceiling near a sprinkler head.
After investigation, it was determined that an errantly thrown basketball in the locker room had activated a sprinkler head. At 7:13 p.m., players and spectators and players were allowed back into the gymnasium, and at 7:22 p.m., play resumed.
The nearly one-hour alarm investigation was not the only delay that Kennett faced. When the game resumed, Unionville finished the third quarter with an effective stall that stymied any opportunity for Kennett to get back in the game, and gave the Indians a 37-22 lead at the start of the fourth quarter.
For the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, Unionville went on an 8-0 scoring stretch, highlighted by a Shanahan steal that led to a driving layup by Sarah Covert.
From whistle to whistle, Unionville demonstrated a patient, nearly mistake-free offense, effectively using both the perimeter and the paint – a credit, head coach Fred Ellzy said, to his senior corps, in particular, Pancoast and Ellie Covert.
"Our leadership starts in practice, and carries over in the game," he said. "Their leadership does a great job in keeping everyone focused. We're continuing to build, and the seniors do a great job of getting the younger girls to where they need to be, and it's because of that leadership that these girls have a chance to get where they need to be."
In addition to Pancoast's performance, Unionville was led by Shanahan with 13 points and Detweiler with eight points. The win improves the Indians' overall record to 10-7 and 6-3 in the Ches-Mont American, good enough for third place division behind Great Valley and Bayard Rustin. Unionville faces Octorara at home on Jan. 28, and will play a non-conference game at Owen J. Roberts on Jan. 30.
With the loss, Kennett fell to 12-6 overall, but 4-5 in the Ches-Mont American. The Blue Demons will travel to Oxford on Feb. 2.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.