CATAWISSA RR — It definitely wasn’t pretty, but Wednesday’s girls basketball kickoff of the ThinkBIG Basketball Classic sure delivered in the entertainment category.
Southern Columbia got a big lift from Faith Callahan off the bench, who shot a perfect 3-for-3 from the floor in the second half, which included two 3-pointers in quick succession, to lead the Tigers over Mount Carmel, 39-33 at Southern Columbia High School.
The Tigers trailed the Red Tornadoes 9-5 after the first quarter, but evened the tally with quick buckets from Morgan Cole and Morgan Marks, prompting a timeout by Mount Carmel head coach Lisa Varano.
Southern head coach Bill Callahan took the opportunity to deliver an emphatic speech to his team during the break, asking for his squad to be more aggressive and take the ball to the hoop.
The Tigers responded positively by holding the Red Tornadoes to just three points in the second quarter, all of which came from the foul line, which resulted in a 15-12 lead at the half.
Mount Carmel battled back in the third quarter, with the team’s top scoring threat, DaniRae Renno, scoring two quick buckets and Lauren Shedleski adding another to open the second half with a 6-0 run.
“I was worried the girls lost the message a bit after halftime,” Bill Callahan said of Mount Carmel’s surge. “But overall they responded to the message. We knew we had to challenge Renno and we did a good job of stopping her today.”
Jill Marks added a bucket shortly after to cut Mount Carmel’s lead to one, but Renno, once again, scored on two consecutive possessions to open a 22-17 lead, the team’s biggest of the night.
Faith Callahan’s back-to-back 3-pointers from bench-side wing put Southern Columbia back on top, 23-22, but only for a short time, with Renno adding another score and Lauren Ayres hitting a runner in the lane as the buzzer sounded to give Mount Carmel a 26-25 lead at the end of the third.
“They really try to get the ball down to (Renno) and I saw from the bench that we needed to score, so I knew when I went in I had to look for my shot and take it,” Callahan said. “It felt great to help the team out. Sometimes I get down on myself when I miss shots so to hit two in a row it just felt great.”
Bill Callahan said of his bench players, “We were looking for instant offense and we took a gamble and I thought they shot the ball well. They looked good and they made some key shots.”
The two teams battled back-and-forth to open the fourth quarter, but a score from Rilyn Wisloski and a floater from Callahan while driving put Southern on top 33-30, a lead the Tigers never relinquished.
Morgan Marks led Southern in scoring with 12 points, while Renno paced the Red Tornadoes with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Bill Callahan said the saga between Mount Carmel and Southern Columbia has just begun, as he expects the two to be contenders in the district playoffs.
Mount Carmel won the first meeting of the two teams this year, topping the Tigers 44-41 in December.