Haddonfield turns back Sterling, 45-41

Haddonfield's Maddie Kiep goes over the top of Sterling's Anyssa Sanchez for a rebound in the third quarter.
Haddonfield's Maddie Kiep goes over the top of Sterling's Anyssa Sanchez for a rebound in the third quarter. (RON TARVER / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 27, 2012

Haley Raymond watched as her free throw hit the back of the rim and bounced straight up toward the top of the backboard.

For a tense moment, the ball seemed suspended in midair, almost as if it was deciding whether to fall through the circle beneath it.

As it seemed to do all night for the Haddonfield girls' basketball team, the ball ultimately complied, swishing through the net with a little more than two minutes left and giving the Bulldogs a two-point lead that they never lost.

After falling to Sterling in the second game of the season, Haddonfield bounced back with a 45-41 road win over its rival Thursday night.

"Free throws are so big in a game like this," Raymond said after her team's fifth straight win. "Down the stretch, a team is going to be fouling you when they're behind.

"So you have to be ready for it. You just have to stay focused on stepping up to the line, reaching up top, following through, and knocking it down."

Raymond, a 6-foot sophomore guard, is a big reason for her team's recent success. Her 13 points Thursday marked her third straight game in double figures in scoring.

Senior Cat Senopoulos led the Bulldogs (11-4) with 14.

Senopoulos and Raymond combined to hit 6 of 6 free throws in the fourth quarter, helping stave off a furious comeback attempt by Sterling.

Haddonfield was 8 of 13 from the line in the game. Conversely, Sterling connected on just 4 of 13 free throws.

"It's just a really exciting win," Senopoulos said. "This is the first time we've been able to beat Sterling at Sterling in a couple of years. And it's really great to do it as a senior because I feel like it was my turn to step up and lead my team.

"It was just so much fun when the game ended, and we were able to relax a little bit."

After ending the first quarter down by 12-7, Senopoulos, senior Maddie Kiep, and junior Maddie Betley led the Bulldogs on a run that provided a 26-16 halftime lead.

Sterling, ever a strong defensive team, ran a full-court press with success through most of the second half. The Knights forced turnovers consistently. They even controlled the paint for much of the game - particularly, sophomore center Leilana Naone-Carter, who finished with a team-high 11 points and 11 rebounds.

But even when Haddonfield appeared on its heels, even when it looked a bit flustered, it hit shots when needed.

"We had a lot of opportunities, but we had trouble putting the ball in the basket," said Sterling coach Kate McDonald, whose Knights (10-2), the No. 9 team in The Inquirer's South Jersey rankings, have lost two straight after starting the season 10-0.

"It is what it is. The reality is, we lost two games and we don't have time to hang our heads. We have to regroup. We're a young team and we're going to have our ups and downs."

For Haddonfield coach Dave Kosa, the win was a good sign for his young team.

"We're starting to play with confidence," Kosa said. "We're believing in one another.

"But this is a great rivalry. We just did the things we needed to do to hang in there for the win."

Haddonfield 7 19 9 10 – 45

Sterling 12 4 10 15 – 41

H: Cat Senopoulos 14, Haley Raymond 13, Maddie Betley 7, Maddie Kiep 7, Meghan Knecht 2, Gina Graf 2.

S: Tyra Satchell 9, Anyssa Sánchez 7, Leilana Naone-Carter 11, Jenna Scully 2, Erica Hoffman 8, Tori Shinkowitz 4.

Contact Chris Melchiorre

at rallysports@phillynews.com.

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