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Souderton products Bealer, Reese leading way for undefeated DeSales WBB

01/12/2023, 11:45am EST
By Owen McCue

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

When DeSales women’s basketball coach Fred Richter went to scout current Bulldogs senior Megan Bealer at Souderton High School five years ago, he discovered not one but two future program cornerstones.

He knew about Bealer, an athletic 5-9 wing whose older brother Mike played for the Bulldogs. Her teammate, 6-foot forward Mikaela Reese also caught his eye.

After Bealer arrived at DeSales in 2019, Reese followed a year later. The Souderton products and longtime teammates are now leading the No. 9 team in the country.

“Coach saw Mikaela when he was also recruiting me and then asked me about her, and I was like, ‘You gotta get her,’” Bealer said. 

“I kind of pushed it on her too, yelled at her to come here,” she added.

DeSales senior Megan Bealer, left, was a standout at Souderton before playing for the Bulldogs. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Bealer (13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Reese (11.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg) are the top two scores and rebounders for the nationally-ranked Bulldogs. Reese had a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks and Bealer added 10 points, four rebounds and a pair of assists in a 68-43 win over Delaware Valley on Wednesday to improve to 14-0 and 6-0 in the MAC Commonwealth. 

Junior guard Lindsey Welsh led the Bulldogs with 13 points and junior guard Amelia Saunders rounded out the list of double-digit scorers with 11. Bensalem product Haley Keenan had 19 for DelVal (8-7, 4-2), which had just one league loss entering Wednesday.

“It’s fun and it’s a challenge,” Bealer said of the national attention the program is receiving. “You know everybody wants to beat you. You’re the team that everyone wants to beat and go after. With that motive that we all have, it helps us to push through and work hard.”

“A lot of teams play their best basketball against, which we want that,” Reese added.

Bealer and Reese began playing with each other when Reese was 13 and Bealer was 14, Reese playing up an age group for the Montgomery Fushion before they took the floor together at Souderton for three seasons together. They are now in Year 3 sharing the court together at DeSales.

“It’s so fun. I love playing with Meg,” Reese said. “You definitely get a connection playing with the same person forever. I feel like me and Meg definitely have that. You can’t really describe it.”

“That chemistry’s there,” Bealer continued. “It’s like I could look at her and I know she’s gonna cut or I could look at her and she knows I’m gonna go backdoor.”

Both Reese and Bealer did a lot of winning during the course of their high school careers. Souderton went to the state playoffs all four years of Reese’s career and the last three of Bealer’s time at the school.

Reese was a sophomore and Bealer was a junior for Souderton District 1-6A title team in 2018. 

“Her sophomore year, my junior was when we had some D1 seniors, that was a fun team,” Bealer said. “So we’ve always kind of been used to winning. It’s just fun and that’s the program you want to be a part of.”

DeSales junior Mikaela Reese is the MAC Freedom's leading shot blocker. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

They’ve continued winning at DeSales — a whole lot of winning.

Bealer started as a freshman for a 23-5 squad in 2019-20 that went 13-1 in the MAC Freedom before winning the league tournament and advancing to the NCAA tournament. She was injured for a large part of the nine-game 2020-21 season, but Reese arrived and stepped into the starting lineup to help the team go 9-0 and claim another MAC Freedom title.

The high school teammates were starters and second and third in the team in scoring last year for a squad that went 16-0 in the league and 22-4 overall, adding another MAC Freedom crown and an NCAA Tournament win as part of a 21-game win streak to end the season.

DeSales has now won 35 of its last 36 games and 42 straight conference games on its way to earning national recognition. 

“They’re winners and they wanted to play for winners,” Richter said of Reese and Bealer. “We’ve done very well these past few years and even better because of them.”

Richter said the two former Souderton standouts fit his program in part because of their ability to get up-and-down the court and play the fast, pressure style that’s made the Bulldogs so successful.

Bealer is averaging 3.5 steals per game to lead the MAC Freedom, while Reese is averaging 2.6 steals per game (fourth) to go along with a league-leading 3.0 blocks per contest. 

“They’re both very good players, very coachable,” Richter said. “They play our style, fit our style. Because of them our press is very effective. They are the key to our press. 

“One doubles the ball, the other one steals the ball. One plays their best inside kid, the other one plays their best guard. They give a lot of attention to the best players on the other team, and we’re all about defense.’”

Bealer and Reese, both two-time all-SOL selections at Souderton, earned spots on the All-MAC Freedom last season. Bealer averaged 10.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 2.2 spg to earn second team honors, while Reese averaged 15.2 ppg, 2.7 apg 7.9 rpg, 2.1 spg and 2.4 bpg to earn a spot on the first team.

For Bealer the defense was always there. Her offense has matured, going from a player who averaged 5.5 ppg as a freshman to ranking fifth in the conference in scorer. The development came in reverse order for Reese.

“Meg is now a scorer. Before, she was a defender and would fill in for layups,” Richter said. “Now, she’s a scorer. And Mik became a defender and could always score. They’ve both upped the ante this year.”

Bealer and Reese aren’t sure what the future holds for their time together on the court after this season. Bealer has an extra year of eligibility and is still working on her healthcare administration degree after switching majors, so there is a possibility she could come back.

“I don’t even want to think about it,” Bealer said of her time playing with Reese potentially ending.

They are trying to hold off on those thoughts and enjoy the special season currently taking place.

“That’s always in the back of my mind. I would love for her (to stay),” Reese said. “I feel like we always put everything out there because you’re also playing basketball, but we’re such a family and I feel like we’re going out to play and enjoy what we love with each other and that’s pretty special too.”


DeSales sophomore Caleb Gibbs scored 20 points in a win over DelVal on Wednesday. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

DeSales men hold off DelVal to get back on track

DeSales sophomore forward Caleb Gibbs said he’s had some rough outings this season.

Stepping into a starting role after seeing very little court action as a freshman has been an adjustment, but it looked like things finally clicked for the 6-foot-7 forward Wednesday night against Delaware Valley.

Gibbs delivered his finest outing of his young career in a 70-61 MAC Commonwealth win at Delaware Valley. He finished with a game-high 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor to go along with 10 boards.

“I think it was more ofa  team thing,” Gibbs said of his big night. “I’ve been struggling a little bit in the early on in the season. I think it was important for me that my guys have picked up the last 15 games. It was kind of my way of saying thank you to them. Playing as hard as I can is just my way of saying, ‘Thank you for picking me up.’”

DeSales (12-3, 5-0 MAC) blitzed the Aggies with an 11-0 run start the game. They held a cushion for most of the contest, leading 32-23 at half and going up by double digits multiple times in the second half.

DelVal sophomore Casey Caruso, who was a senior at Lower Dauphin when Gibbs was a freshman, spearheaded a comeback attempt by the Aggies (7-8, 2-4).

Caruso hit a three puls the foul a four-point lead to cut the deficit to four, 49-45, with 6:33 left. He added another to pull the Aggies within three, 51-48, with 5:43 to play. 

“We can scout him as a shooter, we knew him as a shooter, and personally I knew him as a shooter,” Gibbs said. “You get a little nervous, but you always have faith that guys are going to step up, and I think we did.”

The Aggies got a stop and had a chance to come down and tie but turned the ball over. The next time Caruso got off a 3-point attempt it didn’t go down and suddenly the Bulldogs were in the midst of an 8-0 run to take back control of the game, going ahead 59-48 with 2:43 to play. Sophomore Devin Atkinson had five points during the run, including a back breaking three.

Junior Mason Barnes (18), junior Ryan Boylan (12) and Atikinson (10) were all in double figures for the Bulldogs along with Gibbs. Freshman Justin Savage (Cheltenham) led the Aggies with 14 points.

“I think that’s the dangerous part of our team is that we have 12 different guys that can get their points any time they want to,” Gibbs said. “I think that’s important and the ability of us knowing that if it’s not your day, you have a guy next to you left and right who can do what you’re doing and maybe it’s his night.”

DeSales, which received votes in the latest D3Hoops Top 25 poll Sunday, saw a nine-game win streak end with a rough road trip to Shenandoah (3-10) on Monday. 

The Bulldogs’ only other two losses came in consecutive days in November by three to nationally-ranked Swarthmore and in overtime against a Stockton team that was ranked at the time and is still receiving votes.

“Obviously, it was a tough loss for us, but I think we were able to learn from that,” Gibbs said of Monday. “Now, we know what’s out there. Playing against a team from the ODAC is a little different from playing teams in the MAC. It was good for us to see what’s out there, and it also I think made us a lot hungrier. It made us want it more because I think we got a little comfortable, and now we got that taste of losing a game and we’re ready to keep rolling in the second half of the MAC.”

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