MCDONALD – Fort Cherry seniors Rachel Bellhy and Jenna Lucas called the first half of Monday night’s Section 4-AA game against Chartiers-Houston the worst 16 minutes of basketball they have ever played.
Good thing for the Rangers, both saved their best basketball for when Fort Cherry needed it the most.
Fort Cherry was outrebounded 22-9 in the first half and committed 13 turnovers. The result was a 25-18 deficit at the break.
Bellhy and Lucas, however, each scored 15 second-half points to lead Fort Cherry to a 52-38 comeback win over the Buccaneers to claim fourth place in the section.
“That was a really good second half by us,” Lucas said. “The first half was the worst I’ve ever had, and the second half was my best. It felt good to beat them like that after they whooped us last season.”
The Rangers (2-3, 5-4) trailed by seven points at halftime after a dreadful first half on offense. Fort Cherry forced passes to the interior and Chartiers-Houston’s steals turned into points in transition. Bucs senior Deja Wormsley’s layin off an offensive rebound gave Chartiers-Houston a 10-point lead with 3:14 remaining in the first half. Senior Addy Knetzer, the Bucs’ leading scorer, had eight first-half points and the Rangers turned the ball over with forced passes into the lane.
“I told them that we were beating ourselves,” Fort Cherry coach Gary Kacsur said. “I always tell them that if you can’t play defense and you can’t rebound, then you won’t be successful. We couldn’t do anything right in that first half.”
The 10-point lead was C-H’s largest of the game, but the offensive success did not last long ffor the Bucs (3-3, 9-4). The second half started with C-H being the team focing passes in the lane as they could not connect with Knetzer. With Chartiers-Houston playing at their worst, Bellhy and Lucas showed their best. The two combined for 15 of Fort Cherry’s 17 points in the third quarter, which ended with the Rangers on top, 35-30.
“We kept our heads up and finally started playing as a team,” Bellhy said. “Chartiers-Houston is our big rival, so it felt really good to beat them the way we did.”
Lucas’ three-pointer gave Fort Cherry its first lead with 4:45 left in third quarter. The Rangers capitalized on a young Bucs lineup that could not find Knetzer open and made errant passes instead of attempting open shots. While Wormsley’s layup a minute later gave Chartiers-Houston the lead again, Bellhy scored six points in the final 2:32 to shift the momentum in Fort Cherry’s favor.
“They outplayed us,” Chartiers-Houston head coach Veronica Sansom said. “We turned the ball over on ourselves. They were unforced errors. It’s silly stuff that we’ve been doing all year and now it has caught up to us.”
Again, Bellhy and Lucas combined for 15 points in the fourth quarter to run away with the win. Bellhy finished with a team-high 19 points and Lucas added 17 to lead Fort Cherry to their fifth win in six games.
“Both of them are such unselfish players,” Kacsur said. “They will give the ball up to teammates at any time and they are incredibly team oriented. This win makes a statement that we are trying to get that solid spot in the playoffs.”
Rachel’s sister, Tina Bellhy, scored 14 points. The Rangers outscored the Bucs, 34-13, in the second half.
Knetzer was the only C-H player to score in double figures, with 12.
The win not only solidifies Fort Cherry as a playoff contender in Class AA, it has shown the Rangers that even when they are at their worst, they are capable of rallying for a win. Fort Cherry was rejuvenated in the final 16 minutes and according to Bellhy, the performance showed Fort Cherry that they belong in the WPIAL playoff picture.
“It’s great to be back in the playoff picture and we are starting to build momentum,” Bellhy said. “I think we can definitely go for it now.”