Sean Barnard (@Sean_Barnard1)
SPRINGFIELD — Mindset can be everything and for the Haverford High girls, their sights have been zeroed in on one game at a time.
“Every game we go into it thinking it's a new game,” standout senior Caroline Dotsey said. “So it's really important to us that we don't get ahead of ourselves and kind of stay humble. Everyone's kind of kept that mindset. That's kind of how we have to look at it.
This has become increasingly difficult as the Fords have kept a perfect record through the first 16 games of the season. They carried this into a tough matchup with Springfield (Delco.), who has grown into one of the team’s biggest rivals. The Cougars, always a threat in the Central League, are also in the midst of a successful year and entered the game just one game back in the league standings, Ky McNichol’s group playing its usual brand of defensive-minded ball to great success.
Caroline Dotsey (above) had a big game as Haverford stayed perfect on the season. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
However, the Cougars were unable to slow down the Fords. The visitors jumped out to an early lead and cruised to a 55-38 victory to etch their 17th notch in the win column this season.
“Springfield, in a way, they’ve become one of our rivals,” head coach Lauren Pellicane said. “It's always been very, very competitive. At least since I've been here for the last five years. We have the utmost respect for them, for the program, and their coaching staff. We know it's going to be a battle every time we face them. So we’re certainly happy to beat them.”
Haverford outscored Springfield 13-6 in the first quarter and extended their lead to 15 at halftime. But the Cougars did not go down without a fight.
The game changed in the third quarter when Springfield’s full-court press caused some issues. The Cougars forced 10 Haverford turnovers and held them to just five total points in the third quarter. The lead was cut down to 10 points midway through the third and momentum fell on the side of the Cougars and their home crowd.
As has been the case throughout this season, Haverford leaned on Dotsey to bring them home. The Maine commit ended with 24 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks. She had a massive impact on both sides of the floor, but it was her ball handling that proved especially necessary to get the win.
“I really worked on that,” Dotsey said of her dribbling. “Throughout my four years of high school, I kind of was able to go from a predominantly post player to being able to exhibit some more guard skills. So it kinda makes it easier.”
The 6-foot-1 senior showed no hesitation taking the ball the length of the floor and was valuable to breaking Springfield’s pesky press. Her frontcourt mate, 6-0 senior Mollie Carpenter, who finished the victory with seven points and 12 rebounds, also flashed this ability as it took a complete team effort to get the ball on the court. This versatile offense contributed in a major way to the victory and has been a part of Haverford’s recipe for success all season.
“It's been crucial this year for us,” Pellicane said. “Between Molly and Caroline, these guys can go handle the ball. Their ball-handling has improved. Caroline’s comfortable, Molly's comfortable, you know, a lot of times we will look at mismatches and tell her ‘Hey bring the ball up.’ That has been really important to us, not just tonight but I think throughout this season for sure.”
While their defense showed some second-half success, it was Springfield’s shooting that let them down. The Cougars (12-5, 9-2) were just 11-37 (29.7%) from the field and missed several potentially game-changing attempts.
On the other side, it was Dotsey’s offense that continued to be the driving force for Haverford. She was an efficient 8-13 from the field and also connected on 7-10 of her free-throw attempts.
“She's kind of taken this team and put it on her shoulders,” Pellicane said of Dotsey. “And we have other pieces too, it's not just her, but she is certainly our leader and she's continued to play like it.”
Dotsey takes pride in her impact outside of the score sheet. She made her presence felt by calling out offensive sets, setting screens for teammates, and bringing an overall high motor on both sides of the ball throughout the victory.
“Yeah, definitely just keeping high energy on the floor all the time,” Dotsey said. “I think that's something that is just work ethic. It doesn't take talent to do that. I think everyone can. I think that's what kind of keeps our team going. Kinda what makes us play well.”
Sky Newman (above) chipped in seven points to the Fords' win on Tuesday. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
She cannot do it alone and got the necessary help from her teammates in the victory. Aniya Eberhart added 11 points and Sky Newman ended with seven points including four consecutive free throws to help ice the game. Dotsey also leans within her own family on the court as her sister Rian Dotsey is also a key contributor. She finished the victory with four points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
“Oh, I love it. It's so fun,” Caroline Dotsey said of playing with her sister. “It's funny to hear what she has to say to me and what I say to her. We have really good chemistry together I think so that's something that's so fun to play with.”
Things have been clicking on all cylinders already this season, but there is still plenty to accomplish for Haverford (17-0, 11-0). Looking ahead, they will travel to Lower Merion (4-13, 2-9) on Thursday before heading to Conestoga (13-3, 10-1).
The focus on taking things one game at a time has gotten the Fords this far and this is a mindset they are not looking to abandon any time soon.
“I mean, obviously, we didn't come into this year thinking like we'd be 17-0 at this point,” Pellicane said. “But I think it's really important for us. Our focus is here. Before we were at 0-0 we said ‘one game at a time this year.’ We are going to continue to practice like that (and) play like that.”
Haverford: 13 | 18 | 5 | 19 || 55
Springfield: 6 | 10 | 8 | 14 || 38
Haverford: 18-33 FGA (2-4 3PA), 17-22 FTA
Springfield: 11-37 FGA (5-20 3PA), 11-16 FTA
Haverford: Caroline Dotsey 24, Aniya Eberhard 11, Mollie Carpenter 7, Sky Newman 7, Rian Dotsey 4, Natalie Wright 2
Springfield: Alexis Aaron 10, Taylor Hunyet 6, Anabel Kreydt 6, Kaitlyn Kearney 5, Mia Valerio 4, Molly Clifford 3, Cora Fattori 2, Corinne Gayton-Williams 2