The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

February 22, 2014

Girls Basketball: Millville's Bower Power knocks out Lourdes Regional

MILLVILLE — If the La Salle women’s soccer team plays intramural basketball, they’ll soon have a dynasty on their hands.

Millville senior star Madi Bower, who chose the Explorers’ pitch over the hardwood, put on another jaw-dropping show in Saturday’s District 4 Class A quarterfinals.

The 6-foot-1 force of nature had 46 points, 31 rebounds and nine blocked shots in a 70-54 win over five-time defending district champion Lourdes Regional.

Her performance moved one Quakers fan to congratulate Bower with a smile and a pithy “another good game.”

You might say that.

Bower had 23 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in the first half, and practically duplicated that line after halftime.

She sparked unbeaten Millville to an early 10-2 lead and an 18-point advantage late in the first half. She then scored 17 points in Millville’s game-ending 22-8 run after the Red Raiders pulled within a basket with three minutes to play in the third quarter.

“I don’t know what she averaged per game, but our intention was to cut it in half,” said Lourdes coach Mike Klembara. “We certainly didn’t do that.”

Bower’s astonishing stat line (the third time in two weeks she’s had 46 or more points and 20 or more boards in a game) overshadowed a gutty effort by the Red Raiders (11-12).

After falling behind 36-24 — thanks in part to shooting 1-for-10 to open the second quarter — they stormed back to within eight at halftime. They made three consecutive long buckets off Millville turnovers to end the half, two Bailey Trell 3-pointers including a buzzer-beater from about 8 feet past the midcourt stripe.

Trell and freshman teammate Carmella Bickel, each with 50-plus 3-pointers this season, had four apiece Saturday — seven of them in the middle quarters. Bickel’s trey with 3 minutes left in the third capped a 14-8 run that pulled Lourdes within 48-46.

“It was a bit of a panic situation,” said Bower, “We come out with that intensity at the beginning in every game, but then we always fall off and (opponents) always get back in it. Then we build it up again. It’s every game like that.

“Once (Trell) fouled out, I thought we would definitely win.”

In the midst of their comeback, with about three minutes elapsed in the third, the Raiders junior guard was whistled for her fourth foul and immediately hit with a technical that sent her to the bench. She finished with 15 points, two off Bickel’s team-high.

Bickel and Lourdes’ top rebounder Caitlin Funk (eight boards) also fouled out.

“I’m a little bit disappointed that we put ourselves in such great, great foul difficulty,” said Klembara, who is 613-282 in 35 seasons. “I would think that we lost by less (16 points) than the shots they made from the foul line (18).”

Bower was a factor in that regard, of course, knocking down 12 of 17 free throws.

Her “exceptional movement,” as Klembara noted, and obvious athleticism allowed her to sky for rebounds and spark transition with either a long outlet pass to sister Maci (13 points) or by leading the break herself. When she reached the frontcourt, Madi Bower was as skilled pulling up inside the foul line or taking it to the hoop. She shot 17-for-27 (63 percent) from the floor.

“They ran, and we didn’t see that on video; we were a little unprepared for that,” said Klembara. “They dominated so much on rebounding that they were able to (get run-outs), and that hurt us from coming back.”

Madi Bower’s unique talent took the sting out of Millville’s 31 turnovers (15 Lourdes steals) and 10 missed free throws. The Quakers (22-0) play HAC-III rival St. John Neumann (16-7) in the semifinals.

“We’re disappointed, the girls are disappointed, but it wasn’t for lack of effort,” said Klembara. “Our girls have great heart; they battled throughout the entire year. I’m very, very proud of them.”

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