Cheltenham Ends Tennent's Season

By Nate Oxman 

With one minute, four seconds remaining, Dayna McCrewell finally received her first rest of the game.
 
Fortunately, McCrewell’s much-deserved exit came when coach Bob Schaefer pulled his hard-working starting five to clear the bench and the top-seeded Panthers were well on their way to a 59-46 win over visiting 32nd-seeded William Tennent in the first round of the District One Class AAAA playoffs.
 
“For us, it’s always good to win that first game because crazy things happen every once in awhile,” said Schaefer. “About 10 years ago we almost lost to Bensalem by one in that first-round game. We luckily scored in the last couple seconds, but I thought we weren’t real smooth today. Their height did bother us. They did a real nice job controlling the inside on us.”
 
McCrewell totaled 11 points and six rebounds, but more impressively tallied eight steals to contribute to the Panthers well-balanced attack.
 
“Of course I get tired, but I know that I have to keep playing because it’s districts and I just have to suck it up and keep playing,” said McCrewell. “We’ve come a long way from last year. I enjoy this team so much.
 
“We’re still working hard and still trying to get the little kinks out, but we’re doing what we have to do to win.”
 
Nearly all of McCrewell’s thefts came courtesy of the Panthers full-court press, which forced a large chunk of Tennent’s 29 turnovers on the afternoon.
 
Eight first-quarter turnovers enabled Cheltenham to charge out to an early 16-6 advantage as six different players found the scoring column.
 
Tennent trimmed that margin in half by the end of the period at 17-12 thanks to the repeated success of deep baseball passes used to break Cheltenham’s pressure.
 
“We never gave up,” said sophomore forward Ashley Alden. “They were saying that they had everything to lose and we had nothing to lose so it’s just go out there and give it our all and leave everything on the court.”
 
Tennent had a chance to cut the deficit down even further at the start of the second quarter after another baseball pass found a streaking Alden, who failed to convert the layup.
 
“We saw how they were trying to do that,” said McCrewell. “They were just trying to throw the baseball pass down the court and we didn’t communicate as much as we normally do and they got some baseball passes. But we adjusted and knew that one of the forwards had to come up and be ready for the steal.”
 
That forward was mostly McCrewell, who played centerfield and snagged several stray deep balls, as Cheltenham was able to use 10 second-quarter Tennent turnovers to stretch its lead to 32-20 at the break.
 
“We talked about that as coaches,” said Schaefer. “That’s a real high-risk defense, and that’s going to happen if a kid gets out ahead of you and the pass is good and the catch is good and you can convert the layup. And they did it and in fact we’ve been having other teams doing that to us so we’re going to have to be a little less risky and maybe half-front them.”
 
Tennent’s turnover woes continued in the third quarter as heavy ball pressure from all five Cheltenham players forced nine more turnovers. Cheltenham used the extra possessions to settle down into its offense and take advantage of the quickness of guards Shayla Felder, Monet Constant and Liz Taliaferro to penetrate into the lane and pull up for short jump shots.
 
Felder scored 10 of her game-high 17 points in the period, including an old-fashioned three-point play with 29.7 seconds left that matched Cheltenham’s largest lead of the game at 46-29.
 
That lead ballooned to 50-29 after McCrewell started the final frame with a steal and layup. But Tennent refused to quit and was able to cut the deficit to 12 at 54-42 with 2:02 to go before McCrewell took a feed in the post, made a sweet spin move into the lane and hit a short jumper that all but ended any threat of a comeback.
 
“I congratulated them,” said Schaefer. “Their kids played their hearts out, and our kids played hard enough to take care of business.”
 
A big bright spot in the loss for Tennent was the 6-foot Alden, who ripped down a ridiculous 21 rebounds to go along with a team-high 15 points.
 
“If I can’t do it on the offensive end and I’m not scoring, then I’m just taught to rebound,” said Alden, who battled McCrewell and 6-0 forward Jenna Peoples down low all afternoon. “Defense and rebounding are always constant things for me.”
 
Next up for Cheltenham is a home game against Suburban One American Conference rival Norristown – a 52-46 win over Upper Dublin Friday night - on Wednesday at a time to be determined. The Panthers swept the season series with the 16th-seeded Eagles, winning 67-46 on Jan. 13 and 62-38 on Feb. 6.
 
“We played them twice already and beat them,” said Schaefer. “But they’re a very talented team and they have the potential. They could come out and have the game too and beat you. Anybody can beat anybody, but they’re fast and they have good size and they’re a real nice team so we’re going to prepare real hard and be ready for them.”
 
CHELTENHAM 59, WILLIAM TENNENT 46
William Tennent (46)—Malatesta 1 0-2 2; Zimmermann 2 4-6 8; Sellers 0 0-0 0; Godfrey 3 0-0 8; Alden 7 1-4 16; Morgan 1 0-3 2; Schneiderreit 4 0-0 8; Koval 1 0-0 2; Tyson 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 5-15 46.
Cheltenham (59)—Constant 4 3-4 13; Felder 5 6-9 17; Johnson 1 0-3 2; McCrewell 4 3-5 11; Peoples 2 0-1 4; Taliaferro 3 1-2 8; Epps 2 0-2 4; Ogden 0 0-0 0; Taylor 0 0-0 0; James 0 0-0 0; Hamler 0 0-0 0; Andrews 0 0-0 0; Clark 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 13-26 59.
Three-point goals: Godfrey 2, Schneiderreit 2, Alden; Constant 2, Taliafero, Felder
William Tennent   12    8     9     17—46
Cheltenham—17     15    16    11—59