Cardinal O’Hara Lady Basketball is known for two things; pressure and tempo.
The rest will take care of itself.
The Hawks overcame an early scare by pressuring and playing up-tempo as they pounded the Mount St. Mary’s Thunder 80-32 in both teams’ Monsignor Martin season-opener Monday night at Cardinal O’Hara High School.
Cardinal O’Hara head coach Nick O’Neil gave credit to the Thunder, saying that ultimately the up-tempo style worn them down.
“Even though the score doesn’t say it (the Mount) is a very good team. I think our opponents get caught in our tempo. If you’re not used to it, then its hard to go up and down against us,” O’Neil said.
Mount St. Mary’s actually lead and stayed with O’Hara for most of the first quarter. The Thunder jumped out to a 4-0 lead with back-to-back Grace O’Brien layups. Rayven Johnson hit a three-pointer to make 6-3 in favor of the Mount. Lois Garlow made a ‘3’ of her own to give the Thunder an 11-7 lead.
Then O’Hara found their wits and went on a 10-0 run in the final 1:36 of the first quarter to take a 17-11 lead at the end of the opening stanza.
Nickell O’Neil got the Hawks going as she pressured her way to a steal n’ score layup. That was followed up by back-to-back three-pointers from Alliya Parker and Tatianna Smith. Parker finished the run with a steal n’ score.
Cardinal O’Hara’s success continued as they outscored the Thunder 12-3 in the second quarter.
The Hawks’ pressuring lead to 10 first half steals, with many of them turning directly into points. By the end of the night, O’Hara forced 34 Thunder turnovers.
“We like to play on top of them, press and speed things up to get a steal,” said Cierra Harrison, who finished with a team-high 18 points.
Garlow knocked down a ‘3’ early in the third quarter, but O’Hara came back with a 1:35, 7-0 run that extended their lead to 40-19. Harrison stole a Mount inbound pass under the basket and immediately turned it into points before the Thunder called a timeout.
The Hawks continued to pour it in the fourth quarter, going on a 14-1 run in the final four and a half minutes of the game.
Garlow lead the way for the Thunder with 11 points; Lauren Mucica had 10.
“Once we turned it over, they made a little run and it got in our head,” Mount St. Mary’s head coach Fran Snyder said. “After that, we were shot. We didn’t make any comeback after that. We’re a lot better than this.”
Kiara Johnson, who’s going to play Division-I basketball at Eastern Michigan, had nine points in the win. The Parker sisters, Alliya and Angel, both finished in double-figures.
O’Neil blamed the Hawks’ slow start on the fact that it was their first local opponent since going to the Elmira tournament during the Christmas break and faced several top-ranked opponents.
“We had some tough very tough games,” O’Neil said. “We play two nationally ranked teams and then played the fifth and tenth ranked teams in the state. It was hard to get the girls ready for this game, but we knew the Mount was going to give us a great game.”
O’Hara will head to St. Mary’s of Lancaster on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tipoff. Mount St. Mary’s is off until Friday when they go to Nichols to take on the Vikings at 6 p.m.