Upper Dublin girls oust Cardinal O'Hara in state basketball opener

SOHARA10-c
Cardinal O’Hara’s Mackenzie Gardler (14) has her shot blocked by Upper Dublin’s Jackie Vargas (42).

Jess Polin made a key three-pointer late in the second overtime as Upper Dublin pulled off a 42-35 win over Cardinal O’Hara in the first round of the PIAA Class 6A girls’ state basketball playoffs.

Polin finished with 12 points for the Cardinals (23-5) and helped avenge a 53-26 loss to O’Hara in the first round of states last year.

Maggie Weglos made three three-pointers en route to 12 points for Upper Dublin, which came into the game holding their opponents to an average of 28 points per game.

Mackenzie Gardler, who will be playing at Villanova next year, made three threes and ended with 15 points for the Lions (21-5), who had won 13 straight games. Drexel recruit Maura Hendrixson finished with 13 points.

“It was just their night,” said Gardler. “States is a bunch of upsets and it doesn’t matter who the underdog or favorite is. Anyone can win on any given day.”

Cardinal O’Hara defeated Neumann-Goretti in the Catholic League final before ousting Olney in the District 12 title game.

A scoreless first overtime session concluded with Gardler missing a three-pointer from the corner.

After each team started the second overtime with a layup, Polin pulled up for the deciding three-pointer. The Lions remained cold from the filed as Polin added three free throws to seal the win for Upper Dublin.

Gardler and Hendrixson came out on fire from beyond the arc as they helped the Lions take an 11-3 lead. Weglos scored eight of Upper Dublin’s nine points in the second quarter, but O’Hara took a 19-12 advantage into the locker room.

The Cardinals got back into the game by outscoring O’Hara by a 10-4 margin in the third period. Jackie Vargas made a layup at the buzzer to pull Upper Dublin within one, 23-22.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Weglos and Polin gave Upper Dublin a 28-26 lead with 4 minutes, 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals maintained control and went ahead by three, 31-28, on a pair of Weglos free throws with 15 seconds remaining in regulation.

“I thought it was so important for us to stay patient defensively,” said Upper Dublin head coach Morgan Funsten. “When they [O’Hara] get up, they’re extremely deliberate. We thought we could match it and play defense for two minutes and get a stop, and then come down and get good shots offensively. That’s really what happened in the third quarter and the fourth was back-and-forth.”

Hendrixson was fouled on a three-point attempt with 6.4 seconds to play in regulation. She calmly made all three foul shots to tie the game. The Lions then had a chance to win it after Upper Dublin stepped over the line on the ensuing inbound pass. But Gardler’s shot fell way short.

Upper Dublin               3    9    10    9   0   11 — 42
Cardinal O’Hara          11  8      4    8    0    4 — 35
UD: Dayna Balasa 4, Nicole Kaiser 7, Jess Polin 12, Jackie Vargas 7, Maggie Weglos 12.
CO: Mackenzie Gardler 15, Maura Hendrixson 13, Stephanie Huseby 4, Molly Paolino 3.