Kathy McCartney sat down on her chair at the beginning of Saturday's third quarter, looked up at the scoreboard, and said to no one in particular: "I'm exhausted."

Villa Maria's longtime girls' basketball coach had spent the first half of her team's 33-24 win over Conestoga wildly gesticulating, shouting out orders, and loudly clapping.

But the Hurricanes still had some basketball left to play at West Chester University, so McCartney sprang back up to her feet.

Impassioned coaching is nothing new to McCartney, who is in her 29th season at the helm. The positive reaction she gets from her players isn't, either.

"We feed off of her," senior captain Katie Mooney said. "If I see her clapping and saying, 'come on guys,' then I will do that. We will all do that."

It was in that same third quarter that Villa (4-4) caught McCartney's infectious energy, as the Hurricanes used their press to frustrate the Pioneers (3-3).

"We are going to score a lot of points off our defense," McCartney said. "The kids really buy into that, so they feel it.

"When we get on a little run on defense, cause a couple of turnovers, you can feel the energy increase."

The Hurricanes forced turnovers on consecutive possessions, getting spirited efforts from Mooney and Danielle Knopp. Back-to-back buckets from Knopp put Villa up 14 late in the third, and Villa was in control.

"A win like this is definitely a building block for us moving forward," Knopp said.

"We are so young that getting a fast start early on definitely helps us, because in other games we had a lead and we let it get away from us," the senior added. "This is a good learning opportunity, because once we had the lead we kept it up and finished strong with it."

Knopp finished with a game-high 14 points, while Mooney's presence was most felt down low. The 5-foot-8 forward grabbed 12 rebounds.

"When I see a ball go in the air, I just fly to the paint," Mooney said. "It's probably not the best idea, because I don't necessarily box out a person, I just jump really high for the ball."

McCartney's enthusiasm started early in the game, as the coach was quickly up on her feet with energy.

"Balance," she yelled. "Balance. Balance. Balance."

McCartney may have been talking about balancing out the floor to run their offensive sets, but in order for Villa to have success this season, they are going to need just that: balance.

Also at the West Chester Christmas Classic:

Ayanna Matthews scored 14 points, but Penn Charter fell at the buzzer to Allentown Central Catholic, 39-37. Alyssa Mack hit the winning shot and finished with 18 points. Hannah Fox scored 11 points for Penn Charter.

Elodie Furey's 12 points led Episcopal Academy, but it was not enough as the Churchwomen fell to Notre Dame (N.Y.), 45-23. Furey added 12 steals. Dylan Higgins and Maria Kilcullen each had nine points.

Conestoga 6 2 9 7 - 24

Villa Maria 11 6 12 4 - 33

C: Jill Mascioli 8, Sarah Mascioli 5, Sondra Dickey 4, Emma Powell 3, Sammy Stephens 2, Liz Scott 2.

V: Danielle Knopp 14, Katie Mooney 7, Murrin Tague 6, Laura Davis 2, Marissa Picinich 2, Mary Kate O'Malley 1, Marielle Picinich 1.