The Downingtown East girls' basketball team already had two games under its belt. The Cougars used that to their advantage last night, spoiling Villa Maria Academy's opener, 48-35, in an annual neighborhood battle between two of the area's premier programs.

Meghan Kerrigan (15 points) and Kristen Blye (10) led the offense for East (3-0), which thwarted Villa's bid to avenge a loss last season.

"We've got to get our offense moving better," said the Hurricanes' Erin Mann, who had 10 points to lead her team. "We've got to push the ball more, get more out of our transition game."

Both teams found it difficult to run. Pressure defense was the byword for both.

Blye said the Cougars were trying to guard against overconfidence after winning the Central Dauphin Tournament with victories over Council Rock North on Friday and the host school on Saturday.

"We had a good game against Villa last year and we knew they wanted revenge," Blye said. "We had a good game against Central Dauphin and we wanted to keep it up. Villa was trapping against us, but we managed to find the openings enough times."

"We played some good defense at the tourney," added East coach Bob Schnure. "We were workmanlike, not spectacular. Tonight was a great early test for us. Villa is one of the best programs in the area. I think we made some progress."

Led by six points from Kerrigan, the Cougars took a 13-8 lead at the end of the first period. They upped that to 26-17 early in the third quarter. The Cougars' biggest lead was 42-27 with just over four minutes to play.

"This was our opener, and I think you could see that tonight," said Villa coach Kathy McCartney. "This was a watermark game for us. It was good to open with them - it's a nonleague game - and it gives us a chance to see what we have to work on.

"We battled them, but our offensive execution wasn't very good at all."

Villa Maria 8 6 9 12 - 35

Downingtown East13 9 11 15 - 48

VM: Lindsay Corcoran 7, Ellen Cannon 6, Abby Sbat 5, Erin Mann 10, Alex Martin 3, Sera Berlacher 4.

D: Kelli Joran 5, Meghan Kerrigan 15, Amber Yacenda 9, Kristen Blye 10, Lauren Beyrent 4, Ro Gentry 5.