Northeast Times

No time like the present for Nazareth’s Sobon

Narareth’s Brid­get Sa­bon drives past Mary Jean Valeri of Up­per Merion in the second quarter of Fri­day’s PI­AA dis­trict one class AAA dis­trict play­offs at Up­per Merion High School.

Start­Frag­ment

Though she re­cently com­mit­ted to play bas­ket­ball at Delaware Val­ley Col­lege in Doylestown, the last thing on Brid­get So­bon’s mind right now is col­lege.

This part of her life rep­res­ents her fu­ture, and al­though she ad­mits to be­ing ex­cited for op­por­tun­it­ies still to come, So­bon is choos­ing to live in the present and en­joy what little high school bas­ket­ball she has left.

A seni­or tri-cap­tain for the Naz­areth Academy bas­ket­ball team, So­bon is the team’s point guard and quar­ter­back on of­fense. She also has been part of a group that has found suc­cess on the hard­wood des­pite hav­ing to re­place four seni­ors from last year’s team.

As of this writ­ing, So­bon’s Pan­das were still alive and kick­ing in the PI­AA Dis­trict One Class AAA Play­offs. A fifth-seed in the tour­na­ment, Naz­areth knocked off Pott­stown with a 61-38 first-round home win on Feb. 24, and most re­cently won a 52-44 road de­cision in the quarterfi­nals at No. 4 Up­per Merion last Fri­day even­ing. The Pan­das were elim­in­ated by Villa Maria Academy, 61-47, in the dis­trict semi­finals on Feb. 28 (So­bon scored a team-high 16 points in the loss). 

“I think it’s pretty ob­vi­ous that we aren’t ready for this sea­son to end yet,” So­bon said fol­low­ing her clutch 14-point per­form­ance against Up­per Merion. “We’re a bal­anced, well-roun­ded team where every­one knows their role. Not all of us are go­ing to be play­ing bas­ket­ball in col­lege, so we want to make this last as long as pos­sible.”

She has been play­ing with some of her team­mates for as long as she can re­mem­ber, in­clud­ing fel­low seni­or cap­tain Dani­elle Gasperi, whom So­bon began play­ing AAU ball with when the two were 9 years old. To­geth­er, So­bon, Gasperi (18 points, 11 re­bounds) and ju­ni­or for­ward Nicole Dom­browski (14 points, 12 re­bounds), ac­coun­ted for 46 of Naz­areth’s 52 points in the win at Up­per Merion.

A win didn’t al­ways seem to be in the cards for the Pan­das, who struggled migh­tily on the glass in the first half and were on the re­ceiv­ing end of some tough calls from an of­fi­ci­at­ing group that seemed to be play­ing to the rauc­ous crowd in Up­per Merion’s packed King of Prus­sia gym. Naz­areth was only down by one point at half­time, but they had to scuffle to keep it that close; as a res­ult, the game seemed very much in doubt as the team headed in­to the lock­er room at half­time.

Then, with the flick of a switch, the team’s lead­ers took over. After hav­ing trouble re­bound­ing in the first half, Gasperi and Dom­browski owned the boards in the second half. In an ef­fort led by So­bon, the de­fens­ive unit clamped down on the Vik­ings, al­low­ing just 20 second-half points (sev­er­al of these came at garbage time when the game was already in hand for Naz­areth). Some­how, the Pan­das grit­ted their way to a vic­tory that seemed like a long shot in the first half.

“In the be­gin­ning of our sea­son, nobody but us had high ex­pect­a­tions for this team,” So­bon said of the 16-8 Pan­das. “Every­body said we couldn’t sur­vive hav­ing to re­place four starters, and that has kind of con­tin­ued dur­ing our run in dis­tricts. Up­per Merion has their own TV sta­tion that broad­casts their games, and all we kept hear­ing was how they were go­ing to roll over us and that we wer­en’t sup­posed to win. That got us angry. The fans were really against us, and quiet­ing them down really gave us a great feel­ing head­ing in­to the semi­finals.”

In re­pla­cing those four seni­ors from last year, new lead­ers have been born for Naz­areth, which is why the team has had a suc­cess­ful show­ing in dis­tricts. The Pan­das have blos­somed un­der the dir­ec­tion of a first-year head coach that has helped mold a pre­vi­ously un­sure group of girls in­to a de­term­ined win­ner.

“Wheth­er it was a key re­bound, steal or de­fens­ive stop, we al­ways seemed to step up with a big play in the second half,” head coach John Turn­er said. “I cred­it that to our vet­er­an play­ers. They’ve played in hos­tile en­vir­on­ments be­fore, so it wasn’t something they wer­en’t used to. The at­mo­sphere didn’t scare our kids, as you saw in that second half. I’m very pleased by their ef­fort, as I have been all sea­son.”

As for So­bon’s play out there, Turn­er was not sur­prised at all by his seni­or point guard’s abil­ity to come up big in crunch time.

“Brid­get has been do­ing that for us all year,” he said. “Whenev­er things are break­ing down, she makes a play. She’s a high-IQ play­er that we al­ways trust with the ball in her hands. She really con­trols things out there, and she cer­tainly has made my job a lot easi­er.”

A large part of Naz­areth’s suc­cesses have come be­cause of the team’s bal­ance. All five Panda starters have led the team in scor­ing at one point this sea­son, and on Fri­day night it was Dom­browski’s turn, fol­lowed closely by So­bon and Gasperi. 

Though the Pan­das ended their sea­son 0-3 against Villa Maria, So­bon made it clear that she has en­joyed every mo­ment of her seni­or sea­son.

“There have been plenty of ups and downs for us,” she said. “We just al­ways work hard to mo­tiv­ate each oth­er and bring each oth­er up by play­ing with con­fid­ence. It sounds simple, but it’s been any­thing but. We’ve learned a lot from each oth­er, and it’s something I’ll carry with me to the next level next sea­son.”

Turn­er has en­joyed watch­ing his point guard blos­som as the sea­son has pro­gressed.

“Brid­get’s a gamer,” he said. “Some days as a coach you get frus­trated with the day-to-day grind of a sea­son, but when the time comes, all of these girls, es­pe­cially Brid­get, are gamers. She al­ways come to play and she al­ways comes to win, and at this point it’s just what I ex­pect out of her.” ••

End­Frag­ment

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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