Catholic League Playoffs: St. Hubert trounces Bishop McDevitt

The St. Hubert bas­ket­ball team made quick work of Bish­op McDe­vitt in Tues­day night’s first-round home play­off game.

Now comes the hard part.

Ju­ni­or guard Eliza­beth “Biff” Jones and fresh­man for­ward Meghan Mat­thews each scored a team-high 14 points as the sev­enth-seeded Bam­bies throttled vis­it­ing No. 10 McDe­vitt, 60-35. Jones and Mat­thews com­bined to score 14 in the first quarter as St. Hubert built a 22-8 lead and nev­er looked back.

“We came out and star­ted fast,” Bam­bies head coach Bri­an Kuzmick said by phone Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. “We shot the ball really well in the first quarter, which really helped be­cause we hadn’t done that in awhile. We got more con­fid­ent as the game went on and we nev­er took our foot off the gas. We played a com­plete game to­geth­er.”

St. Hubert won’t have much time to cel­eb­rate, as a daunt­ing road test at per­en­ni­al Cath­ol­ic League power Arch­bish­op Wood looms on Thursday night. The Vik­ings put a 61-38 whoop­ing on St. Hubert on Feb. 6, put­ting a damper on the team’s Seni­or Night fest­iv­it­ies.

A sim­il­ar scen­ario un­fol­ded in the post­season last year, as the Vik­ings over­whelmed St. Hubert late in the reg­u­lar sea­son only to set up a de­cidedly more com­pet­it­ive play­off match later on. The Bam­bies ended up los­ing that game too, so Kuzmick is hop­ing to avoid a com­plete d&ea­cute;jà vu situ­ation.

“They’re one of the best teams in the league and prob­ably the state,” he said of Wood, which hasn’t lost since Jan. 25. “Of­fens­ively, they’re smooth and pol­ished, so it’s dif­fi­cult to guard them for 32 minutes. Plus, they’re the best man-to-man de­fens­ive team in the league. If we shoot the ball like we did against McDe­vitt, it’s cer­tainly a game we can win. It’s a doable task.”

It will be much more doable if Kuzmick can get his best play­er and seni­or lead­er, for­ward Char­lotte Ku­cowski, back on track. After scor­ing at a rap­id rate to start the sea­son, Ku­cowski has struggled con­sid­er­ably of late; she man­aged just five points in the win over McDe­vitt, and Kuzmick said she’s only av­er­aging about three points per game over the last sev­en con­tests. She will prob­ably need to tally three to four times that al­lot­ment to knock off the mighty Vik­ings.

“She’s not shoot­ing the ball like she did the be­gin­ning of the year,” Kuzmick said of Ku­cowski. “We need her to knock down shots and shoot the ball bet­ter than she has, no ques­tion.”

The con­tin­ued emer­gence of Mat­thews down low has picked up some of Ku­cowski’s slack, and the Bam­bies’ depth should keep them in any con­test. Ku­cowski, Jones and Mat­thews are the team’s most re­li­able scorers, but Kuzmick has a stable of role play­ers — such as seni­or Claire Al­minde and ju­ni­ors Car­oline Price, Maria DeR­entz, Kelly Ri­ley and Megan Re­illy — that must con­trib­ute.

“I’m still play­ing nine or ten kids a night,” Kuzmick said. “They all bring something to the table, and we need sol­id per­form­ances from every­one we put out there on the floor. If they all be­lieve in them­selves then it will go a long way.”

Though St. Hubert is seeded sev­enth, Kuzmick said he be­lieves his team stacks up against any oth­er one in the league. He cited crit­ic­al close losses (one point against Arch­bish­op Ry­an, three points against Arch­bish­op Car­roll) as be­ing the dif­fer­ence between the 7-seed and qual­i­fy­ing for the state play­offs.

“The league is that close and that tough,” Kuzmick said. “The ex­cit­ing thing is that if we win to­mor­row night we’ll have done something St. Hubert has not done in a long time … maybe in about 12 to 15 years.”

He was re­fer­ring to the Cath­ol­ic League semi­finals, a def­in­ite goal for a team “fight­ing to get to that next level.” Kuzmick spoke of the tre­mend­ous op­por­tun­ity in front of his play­ers, one that is not lost on them.

“For me per­son­ally this is ab­so­lutely the most ex­cit­ing time of the year,” he said. “The most ex­cit­ing part about it is that next win can be one of the most spe­cial mo­ments of their lives. There’s al­ways the op­por­tun­ity to have that great mo­ment. If you can get your hands on it then it’s something they’ll al­ways re­mem­ber.” ••

Sports Ed­it­or Ed Mor­rone can be reached at 215-354-3035 or em­or­

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