|Kevin Hoffman/The Mercury Pope John Paul’s Lauren Dao drives against Merion Mercy’s Martha Zeller.|
By Dennis Weller
WHITEMARSH — All the Pope John Paul II girls could do in the second half of Tuesday night’s District 1-AAA basketball semifinal was try to get back into the game one play at a time after a horrible half of shooting left them 17 points behind.
And that’s what they did, by not only finally hitting some of their own shots, but by also shutting down Merion Mercy’s inside game while cutting what had eventually become a 19-point deficit to just three by midway through the fourth quarter.
But Merion then scored its only basket of the final period and added 10 free throws in the last minute and a half to hold off the Golden Panthers, 47-35 at Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Colonial Elementary and clinch one of the district’s three spots in the PIAA Tournament. PJP will have a second chance to earn its first state berth in the three-year history of the school back at the same place on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. against fourth-seeded Lower Moreland, a 52-28 loser to top-seeded Villa Maria.
Taylor Beardon scored 11 for the third-seeded Golden Panthers (17-6), all of them in the second half, and Caroline Corzel led 10th-seeded Merion (17-10) with 14 points, including six straight free throws down the stretch.