Neumann girls win with good defense

On a night in which offense came at a premium, St. John Neumann turned to the other side and used its defense to create chances.

The No. 8 seeded Knights held No. 9 Millville to single digits in every quarter but one, held it to just 12 field goals, and dominated the glass on both ends. The result was a 47-33 win in the opening round of the District 4 Class A playoffs. Neumann advanced to play No. 1 Sayre Saturday at a time and place yet to be determined.

Neumann went against conventional wisdom and went right at Millville’s best player in Madison Bower, who scored more than 500 points this season.

“We know they only have five or six girls that they play and we needed to wear them down,” St. John Neumann coach Steve Sholder said. “We started to wear Bower down by double teaming her on the block.”

The combination of Emily Sholder and Aliyah Garnett wore on Bower. Sholder recorded five steals against Bower and Garnett added one while playing tough in the paint.

“She is really good, but she had a bad attitude. No sportsmanship,” Garnett said. “I like to play basketball and don’t mind that. I just like to play to have fun.”

And it showed.

Garnett was a force on the glass, scoring nine of 11 points inside the paint. She also hit 3 of 4 free throws, which was crucial when Bower picked up her third foul.

Bower’s sister, Maci, also struggled to stay out of foul trouble. She eventually fouled out with 1:19 left in the game.

“It really doesn’t change our approach,” Millville coach Mike Belles said. “They have been our two main scorers all season. We just needed better ball movement.”

Sensing Millville’s frustrations, Sholder quickly took advantage, scoring nine of 13 points through the final two quarters.

“We had a lot of nice steals we converted into points,” Emily Sholder said. “You have to anticipate where the ball is going. It was good I was able to get points off that.”

Besides scoring inside the paint, Neumann (13-10) also did a fair share of putting up points in transition. The fast pace also came with the added bonus of wearing Millville’s (11-12) small rotation out.

Meghan Trenholm was a big factor in the final quarter after Bower appeared to roll her ankle at the top of the key.

In clear pain, Bower struggled to keep up with Trenholm, who posted six of her team-high 14 points in the final quarter.

“We did a good job boxing out. We’re tough under the basket,” Emily Sholder said. “This game says we can box out any team we go against. We knew what we had to do and we got it done.”

Millville (33)

Abigail Belles 0 0-0 0; Emily Laubach 0 0-0 0; Samantha Cook 2 1-2 5; Nicole Whitenight 1 0-0 2; Maci Bower 5 4-7 14; Madison Bower 4 4-14 12. Totals 12 9-23 33.

SJN (47)

Meghan Trenholm 4 6-11 14; Emily Shelemen 0 0-0 0; Katherine Mertes 0 0-0 0; Emily Sholder 5 3-10 13; Rebecca Helminiak 0 0-0 0; Stephanie Fernandez 0 0-0 0; Baylie Gerrity 1 2-2 4; Aliyah Garnett 4 3-4 11; Rachel Danneker 2 0-1 5; Elizbeth Sheleman 0 0-0 0; Megan Helminiak 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 14-28 47

Millville 7 7 9 10-33

SJN 11 12 10 14-47

3-point goals: Millville-0. SJN-1 (Danneker)

Records: Millville 11-12. SJN 12-10.

Next: No. 8 SJN at No. 1 Sayre TBA.