McNamee leads Knights in victory
Ask most about Shayna McNamee and they will tell you that she is a great scorer. That certainly is true since McNamee led the area in scoring last year and produced her 1,000th career point last Saturday.
But the St. John Neumann senior is so much more than just a scorer. She is a complete player and she is a mighty good player. And it was McNamee’s hidden asset that proved so important Monday night against determined North Penn-Mansfield.
McNamee made three steals in the closing minutes at the Catholic Community Center, helped limit the Tigers to four fourth-quarter points and scored the go-ahead basket as Neumann rallied for an exciting 39-34 win. McNamee scored a game-high 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and made five steals as the Knights (6-5) won their third straight and outscored Mansfield, 10-2 over the last seven minutes.
“The great part about Shayna is with her being the area scoring leader last year, people don’t realize how amazing she is on defense,” Neumann coach Junior Parrish said. “Her balance is unbelievable and she reads plays really quick. At the end of the game it wasn’t her offense that won the game, it was her defense and that’s what people don’t pay attention to.”
Mansfield (4-6) certainly did. The Tigers made an impressive comeback, turning a 13-point second-quarter deficit into a 3-point fourth-quarter lead, but they could not avoid McNamee in the closing moments. Whether she was clogging passing lanes, or hounding ball-handlers, McNamee repeatedly created chaos and her defense turned into offense. She had a hand in six straight points that put Neumann ahead, 35-32 and the Knights never trailed again.
McNamee also made two steals as Neumann was protecting a 36-34 lead. She scored on a drive that made it a four-point game with 75 seconds remaining and a key Abby Henderson block and Gabby Lisi steal and free throw helped the Knights seal the win.
“I love games like this, the close ones, especially when you have that drive that you’re not going to lose,” McNamee said. “You have that feeling that you’re going to do everything in your power to win. This was an important game for us and we’re turning our season around.”
While McNamee was the engine powering Neumann, she had plenty of help. Henderson was a difference-maker inside, blocking seven shots and grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds. Lisi was outstanding late in the game, scoring four points in the last three minutes while blocking three shots. Anne Weller fought relentlessly inside and pulled down 10 rebounds while Brooke French helped Neumann take an early 22-9 lead, scoring five quick points.
French fouled out with three minutes remaining, but freshman Zuzu Shanaway shined under pressure. Shanaway grabbed three important rebounds, extending possessions and helping the defense allow just two points during that time. It was the second time in less than a week that Neumann overcame a fourth-quarter deficit as a team with two first-time varsity starters/contributors continued making nice progress.
“My teammates are stepping up. They’re not afraid of that intense momentum that’s going on,” McNamee said. “They’re not afraid to do what they know and that’s good to know that when we’re in tight situations they’re going to do their best to win.”
“They’re an underestimated supporting cast,” Parrish said. “They come in and play hard and that’s all I ask. They’re fighters.”
So are the Tigers.
Mansfield features one of the area’s youngest teams and played mostly sophomores last night, but nearly recorded another impressive comeback win. The Tigers have rallied from nine and 10-point deficits to win games the past two weeks and turned up their defense while heating up offensively to take a lead into the fourth quarter. Despite giving up size inside, Mansfield ferociously went after rebounds and loose balls as Lizzi Welch grabbed 10 rebounds and Hannah Bowens added seven more.
Jeanette Montefusco gave Mansfield its first lead when she hit a last-second, third-quarter jumper and Palmer’s putback made it 32-29 with seven minutes remaining. Neumann, though, stiffened from there and the Tigers scored their next and last basket with 2:25 left when Palmer fed Welch inside and cut it to 35-34.
“A lot of times they dig themselves a hole with youth and inexperience and then they realize we have to come out swinging and fighting and they do. I applaud them because they fought through a lot of things,” Mansfield coach Nate McNamara said. “Neumann is a good team. I’ve coached here before and this is not an easy place to play. If you make it a one-possession game with a minute to go you’re doing all right.”
Alyssa Smith sparked the Mansfield comeback, scoring a season-high 13 points. Smith scored all 13 points in the middle quarters and breathed life into her team when she drained consecutive second-quarter 3-pointers. She made 5 of 6 shots during those middle quarters and also fed Montefusco for a 3-pointer.
Smith missed most of last season after tearing her ACL. It has been a long road back for a feisty competitor, but Smith showed how dangerous she can be last night and that could mean good things for Mansfield moving forward.
“She had a really good year leading up to her injury last year and she’s worked her tail off to get back to this point. I think tonight was a breakout game,” McNamara said. “I knew that was going to happen, I just didn’t know when. It was just a confidence thing for her and I think going forward she can be a senior leader for us.”
JoAnne McNamara 2 0-0 4, Lizzi Welch 1 0-0 2, Shaelyn Berguson 0 0-0 0, Alyssa Smith 5 0-0 13, Jaime Palmer 3 1-5 7, Jeanette Montefusco 2 0-0 5, Hannah Bowens 0 2-2 2, Aliana McKee 0 1-6 1, Riley David 0 0-0 0, Sara Swingle 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 4-13 34.
Shayna McNamee 9 2-6 20, Gabby Lisi 2 2-7 6, Abby Henderson 2 2-4 6, Brooke French 2 0-0 5, Anne Weller 1 0-4 2, Cheyenne Danneker 0 0-0 0, Cheyenne Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Zuzu Shanaway 0 0-1 0. Totals 16 6-21 39.
NP-Mansfield 5 10 15 4–34
Neumann 16 8 5 10–39
3-pointers: NPM 4 (Smith 3, Montefusco); Neumann 1 (French).
Records: Neumann 6-5. North Penn-Mansfield 4-6.
JV Score: North Penn-Mansfield 15-9.