By: Jake Gray
Wednesday vs. WC Rustin
The Pennsbury Falcons absolutely shut down the WC Rustin Golden Knights on Wednesday with a final score of 58-30. Pennsbury’s junior Bella Arcuri was hitting from all over the court, leading all scorers with 18.
Despite the dominant result for the Falcons, their first playoff game of the season was not initially so easy. Both teams played exceptionally fast and tough to start. No basket was easy. For every score, there was an answer from the opposing team, leading to a close Rustin lead of 12-11 at the end of the first. Nerves were high in both cheering sections.
Pennsbury’s defense was intense, pouncing on guards bringing the ball up with suffocating double teams to force weak passes and travels. However, they couldn’t quite gel on offense, as seen in their inability to get a shot up with a last second attempt before the end of the quarter. It was truly anyone’s game. All it needed was one player to get hot and take over.
That player was Falcon sophomore Ava Sciolla. After a quiet first quarter, she totaled seven points in the second. Her excellent ball handling and ability to get to the rim gave the Falcons’ offense the jump start it needed to pull ahead. While Rustin senior, Grace Plona led all scores in the quarter (she scored 10 of her 14 in the second), Ava Sciolla’s explosive offense activated the rest of the Falcons. Her drives to the basket drew pressure from Rustin, allowing her to kick out with excellent passing. Pennsbury outplayed Rustin by effectively moving the ball, making the extra pass to forego good looks for great ones. Pennsbury ended the half on top, with a score of 29-22.
The momentum was heavily in Pennsbury’s favor at the start of the second. Pennsbury’s offense kicked it up to another gear, pushing the pace past Rustin and scoring 16 in the quarter. Their defense, meanwhile, was as tough as ever, holding Rustin to only two points. The game was effectively over by this point, and a masterful fourth quarter from Pennsbury (they scored 13 and allowed just six from Rustin) wrapped a Falcons win.
Pennsbury has to be fired up after this decisive win at home. While the Golden Knights came into the Nest strong, the Falcons intense offense and crushing defense was too much to bear. After a great team win, the Falcons advanced to play Methacton at home on Saturday.
Saturday vs. Methacton
After an emotional and gritty game, the Pennsbury Lady Falcons were able to defeat the Methacton Lady Warriors at home on Saturday with a final score of 43-34. Pennsbury guard Bella Arcuri led all scorers with 20 points.
It’s hard to describe this game, if I’m being honest. Comparing it to other Pennsbury games I’ve seen this season leaves me drawing a blank. Instead, I’d say it more closely resembles a heavyweight boxing match. These two teams just went pound for pound all game. The visiting Lady Warriors arrived at the Falcon’s Nest hungry, and Pennsbury was just as ready to defend its territory.
Both teams came out swinging, however, neither could really land a clean blow as the first quarter ended with a 4-3 Falcons lead. That’s not to say that the players weren’t landing blows, as this game was full of foul calls. By my count, there were about 17 fouls called in the first ten minutes of the game, and it didn’t slow down from there. In the first half, both teams collectively totaled 19 team fouls. This led to eight free throw attempts for Pennsbury and sixteen for Methacton. However, struggles at the line (Pennsbury shot 50% in the first half and Methacton only made 25%) kept the score low, ending the second quarter with a tie at 13-13.
Coming into the second half, both teams were ready to turn it around. After a first half filled with fouls and poor shooting, something had to give.
All season, I’ve watched Pennsbury heat up in the third quarter. This game was no different. Excellent ball movement and rebounding gave them the advantage over Methacton. What was most impressive to me was how specifically they turned it around.
In my amateur opinion, Pennsbury’s best success this season has come when they push the pace and play aggressively on both sides of the ball. They aren’t a particularly tall team, but they effectively have used this size mismatch to showcase their speed and swarming zone defense.
However, this game was different. In a game as physical and grinding as this one, the same opportunities don’t come. Methacton’s defense slowed down the game, leading to early struggles for Pennsbury.
The Lady Falcons stepped up, though, and adapted to this different play style. They fought hard, playing tough defense in spite of the brutal first half they faced. Shutting down the Lady Warriors led to nice a run late in the third, ending in a 27-20 lead for Pennsbury.
That run was the beginning of the end for Methacton. Pennsbury kept its foot on the gas for the fourth quarter, and they pulled out of Methacton’s reach. Forcing Methacton to foul early in the hope that they could keep the game alive, Pennsbury shot 22 free throws in the fourth, making thirteen. The game finally ended in a 43-34 Lady Falcons win.
In all honesty, I’m surprised the score was that high after how slow the first two quarters were. In fact, after the game, I learned that the referees had just set two state records: most fouls (by my count, 39) and foul-outs (6) in a game without overtime.
Saturday’s win says a lot about this Pennsbury team. They’re not a one trick pony. This team is full of determined and skilled players who are willing to push themselves for a win. Another important note is just how well Bella Arcuri played. Not only was she a skilled scorer, but she also was excellent at moving the ball and getting to the line. Her twenty points were well-earned.
Pennsbury will go on to play Plymouth Whitemarsh at Souderton High School at 8pm on Wednesday in the 6A tournament semifinals.