Bishop McDevitt’s Sophia Formica led her basketball team to victory against Susquehanna Twp. scoring 24 points in the 43-41 nail-biter

Team sports are never about one player, but if you asked anyone at the Bishop McDevitt versus Susquehanna Twp. girls basketball game – ‘who stood out’ – the answer ought to be very simple.

Sophia Formica.

“Heart over height,” Formica said after the game. “I mean, that’s a little cliché, but it’s true. We front the post, we have to get strong inside, we don’t have the height, so we have to get strong. We just have to believe in ourselves.”

The five-foot-five McDevitt guard wasn’t affected by Hanna’s ability to run up the score in the first quarter. But, in the second half, Formica showed off her cool under pressure personality landing 3 after 3 after 3. And, if that wasn’t enough, she was also a reliable playmaker causing even fans in the stands to yell, “don’t foul her.”

Bishop McDevitt won 43-41 in a down to the wire back and forth against Susquehanna Twp. Tuesday at McDevitt. It was the first contest between the two District 3 Mid-Penn Conference Capital Division rivals.

“My whole focus on the season is being a leader to my team, whether it’s on offense or defense,” Formica said. “Just getting them prepared. I want to instill confidence and that, I think, comes from me. I stay confident even through my misses and my mistakes.”

She ended the game with 24 points, of which six were 3s.  

Hanna’s height is an asset. The girls put rebounding and blocking on repeat until about 4 minutes and 30 seconds into the first, when the Lady Indians dropped their first bucket.

Zoey Murray grabbed the rebound and put it back up for 2. Sydney Pettis same thing. Zoe Beall again. And, Pettis once more to make it 8-0. Aaliyah Barnes hit the hoop to make it 10-0 with 2:06 remaining in the first, which was enough for McDevitt’s head coach Joel Falcone to call a timeout.

“In that first quarter, we hadn’t played a game yet, and it looked like we hadn’t played a game,” Falcone said. “I just told them to keep their composure. And let’s try to get some stops, eventually to get us some easy buckets. We just couldn’t put it in the hoop in the first quarter. But once we got it rolling, it was really good.”

It took about 30 seconds after the timeout for Formica to sink her first 3. Then the Lady Crusaders started to show signs of figuring out how to get around Hanna’s height. They began stealing and shooting, and also hitting their shots.

Mila Brescia decided she wanted a 3. So, she shot and scored one. The gap was cut in half 12-6 favoring Hanna at the end of one.

It was Formica again at the top of the second, who sank her second 3. The Lady Indians continued to work inside the paint and put up points holding on to their lead for a few more minutes.  

Hanna’s biggest lead was 8 points in the second. McDevitt, however, closed the gap by aggressively swinging the ball around the arc and making clean layups.

The Crusaders visibly looked more organized heading into the third, while the Indians began to look “panicked.”

“I think McDevitt had a pretty good game plan,” Susquehanna Twp. head coach Terrance Clark said. “I just thought our girls panicked. We’re down another guard so we need another ball handler to help Schuyler out, but the game plan was good. I will give them credit. But I just think our girls panicked because they weren’t positioned, they were in positions that they’re normally not in.”

Schuyler Coles, who scored 11 points, came up big in the fourth. She made money shots, including a 3, to stop McDevitt from going on a run.

It was 21-20 at the half.

The third was defensively explosive. Both teams only scored 5 points each. The score, 26-25 Hanna.

“Sometimes, just because they’re tall and big, they just think they don’t have to box out,” Clark said. “They need to box out more instead of relying on their size and athleticism and think they can just outnumber them.”

The score then remained tied 26-26 until just under 6 minutes remained in the game. That lasted only a few seconds and it was 29-29 until 4:46 remained.

Formica sank another 3 to give the Crusaders the one-point edge. It was 32-31 with 4:19 to play.

Formica then again grabbed another defensive rebound, ran the ball down the court, and scored 2 more.

Both teams were sending players to the foul line with under 3 minutes and 30 seconds to play.

Formica again found herself with the ball all alone on the arc. She shot her shot deep and landed a beautifully lobbed slow-motion 3 to make it 38 to 34 Crusaders.

She then stole the ball on the next play, and it was Maya Dickerson who she assisted with a 3 that gave McDevitt its biggest lead of the game.

The score was 41-37 Crusaders.

McDevitt began to burn time on the clock elapsing almost a minute by just passing the ball. Hanna was the team now struggling defensively.

Coles drained her 3 with 11 seconds remaining tightening the gap to 41-40.

McDevitt finished it out with a Kamya Jenkins steal, who then landed 2 out of 2 shots from the free throw line.

Pettis, fouled at the very end, hit 1 for 2 at the line, making the final 43-41 McDevitt.

“It was really exciting, you know, playing a rival, Susquehanna, which is a great team,” Falcone said of McDevitt’s season opener. “I was excited with how we had just a team effort, ya know, our whole bench and everything. So, it was good. Definitely a good way to start off league play.”

When it comes to Formica, he said she is a “phenomenal leader.”

“And it really just shows from the days she comes into practice, and she sets the tone for everybody, including myself sometimes,” he said. “And, I love it. She’s definitely ready for any challenge. And, she showed it tonight.”

Formica, who hasn’t decided where she wants to play in college yet, said her team has “grit.”

“There was never a doubt in me that we were just getting started,” Formica said. “We stayed strong. We just need to work on our shooting, giving everybody a look, you know. I think this was a good game that tested us, and we ended up staying strong. So, just the little things. We have to work on the little things, but I’m really happy with where we’re at.”

Crusaders: 6-14-5-18 – 43

Formica, 24; Dickerson, 5; Olivia Grella, 4; Brescia, 3; Jenkins, 3; Elle Osevala, 2; Olivia Deantonio, 2

Lady Indians: 12-9-5-15 – 41

Pettis, 16; Coles, 11; Barnes, 8; Beall, 4; Murrary, 2

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