By Tom Robinson
MANHEIM – Points were hard to come by for long stretches of Monday’s Blue Chip USA Invitational Pool H finale between JB Hoops Rose and Connecticut Northstars Dacosta.
That is, except for the 7 points Rachel McDonald packed into 22 seconds.
McDonald’s outburst with less than three minutes remaining put JB Hoops ahead to stay on the way to a come-from-behind, 41-35 victory for its fourth straight win after losing the opener of the event.
JB Hoops outscored Connecticut, 26-12, in the second half after trailing by as many as 10 points in the first half.
“We tend to get off to a slow start in the beginning,” McDonald said, “but we fight to the end and we really play hard the whole time.”
The Northstars still had a 32-29 lead when McDonald was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 2:42 remaining.
McDonald missed the first attempt, but made the next two to cut the deficit to a point.
By the time Connecticut got the ball across midcourt the next time, it was facing a four-point deficit.
McDonald came up with an errant Northstars pass in the backcourt and drove for a tough layup for the lead.
Then, Trinity Johnson came up with another steal near the endline and found McDonald for a 3-pointer and 36-32 lead.
“We knew we had to start getting steals because our defense leads to offense,” said McDonald, who led the team with 13 points and also made 4 steals.
Clair Marion found Maria Belardi to increase the lead to 38-32 before the Northstars cut the deficit in half with a 3-pointer for their final points.
McDonald, a guard who is going into her junior year at Abington Heights, then hit three of four free throws in the final 14 seconds to secure the win.
Claire Dougherty added nine points and six rebounds for JB Hoops.
Trinity Johnson, who had six points, three steals and three blocked shots, and Kayla Rose shared the team rebounding lead with nine.
Marion had six rebounds, five steals and two blocked shots.
Maria Belardi set up the first three JB Hoops baskets and finished with a team-high four assists.
JB Hoops finished with a 44-35 rebounding advantage.
Connecticut led 11-4 early, then put together a 10-point streak while holding JB Hoops scoreless for 5:08 late in the half to build the game’s biggest lead, 23-13.
Marion hit a pull-up shot from the foul line 22 seconds before halftime to end the drought, then JB Hoops answered by shutting down the Northstars.
Connecticut did not score for more than 11 minutes while JB Hoops slowly moved into a 25-23 lead.
While its defense clamped down, JB Hoops still struggled on offense for much of the second half. It had managed just two field goals and seven total points in 14 ½ minutes when Dougherty created the first surge into the lead.
Dougherty’s 3-pointer from the left corner tied the game and the rising Lake-Lehman sophomore drove down the middle put JB Hoops ahead, 25-23, with 6:10 to play.
Connecticut’s offense came back to life with a 9-4 run to the lead before McDonald put JB Hoops ahead to stay.