Pennsbury had a fairly comfortable lead over Owen J. Roberts in a PIAA Class 6A second-round girls’ basketball playoff game at Bensalem on Tuesday night. But things were getting a bit dicey in the third quarter, and Falcons coach Frank Sciolla was looking for somebody to calm things down.
Enter Bella Arcuri.
The Pennsbury junior guard pulled a left-baseline drive out of her bag of tricks to stem a 6-0 Wildcats scoring run and calm things down while giving her team a 29-17 lead going into the final quarter. The Falcons went on to beat Owen J. Roberts, 50-27.
With the win, Pennsbury (23-5), the District 1 runner-up, advanced to the state quarterfinals for just the second time in school history and will play District 12 champion Cardinal O’Hara, a 55-43 winner over Spring-Ford, on Friday at a time and place to be determined. The Falcons last played in the quarterfinals in 1979 when they lost to Cedar Crest.
Arcuri, who scored 10 points, was a calming influence throughout the game, especially at the start, when she scored seven of Pennsbury’s first nine points en route to an 11-0 Falcons lead.
“She is a really tough kid,” Sciolla said. “She did a good job in terms of handling the ball. And you know what she really did well? When we made a little switch and we started sitting Ava [Sciolla] down a lot, she made sure that’s where [the ball] went. And you need leadership to slow it down, and she did a great job.”
The Wildcats (20-9), who came into the tournament as the ninth-place team from District 1, never recovered from the slow start. They managed just four points in the second quarter against Pennsbury’s 3-2 zone defense and trailed, 24-9, after sophomore Makayla Bethea came off the bench to nail a three-pointer from the right corner at the buzzer.
The Wildcats made their third-quarter run in the third quarter, but it was too little too late. Pennsbury sophomore guard Nicole Pompili scored all of her game-high 12 points in the fourth quarter to ice the victory.
“Those opportunities are there for us,” Frank Sciolla said. “They’re going to be there every game. We have to be able to take advantage of them. I thought tonight we did, and the girls really did a great job being prepared.”
Pennsbury 13 11 5 21 - 50
Owen J. Roberts 5 4 8 10 - 27
P: Nicole Pompili 12, Bella Arcuri 10, Ava Sciolla 9, Mary Miller 8, Mia Spinelli 3, Makayla Bethea 3, Kiley Haws 2, Jillian Haley 2, Emily Friel 1.