Kaiser leads Up­per Dublin over Chel­tenham

Scores 19 points in pac­ing Car­di­nals to Amer­i­can win

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By An­drew Robin­son arobin­son @21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @ADRobin­son3 on Twit­ter

FORT WASHINGTON >> All sea­son, Up­per Dublin has banked on Ni­cole Kaiser get­ting the job done.

When she’s de­liv­ered, the Car­di­nals have usu­ally got­ten a pos­i­tive re­sult out of it. Op­pos­ing teams are plan­ning for the ju­nior for­ward, com­mit­ting their best de­fend­ers to try­ing to stop her. Kaiser has ar­guably been the Car­di­nals’ most im­por­tant player this sea­son.

Not too bad for a kid who was com­ing off the bench this time last sea­son.

Fri­day night, Kaiser de­liv­ered again for her team, scor­ing 19 points to go with seven

re­bounds and two steals as UD de­feated vis­it­ing Chel­tenham 48-30.

“The girls did a great job of find­ing (Kaiser), whether it was in tran­si­tion or our half­court sets,” Up­per Dublin coach Mor­gan Fun­sten said. “She’s re­ally good at fin­ish­ing and drop­ping 19, that’s kind of what she’s be­come for us. She’s be­come our go-to scorer.”

The Car­di­nals didn’t shoot great on Fri­day, go­ing 21-of-60 from the floor, but they did all the other things well. UD col­lected 19 of its 31 re­bounds on the of­fen­sive glass, turned the ball over just four times and played tough de­fense, forc­ing the Pan­thers into 16 turnovers.

Se­nior guard Josie Bar­rett was the cat­a­lyst to Up­per Dublin’s (8-4, 5-1 SOL Amer­i­can) hot start, tak­ing the open­ing tip and zoom­ing down the floor for a layup. Bar­rett, a dead-eye shooter from out­side, scored 10 of her 13 points in the first quar­ter then spent the rest of the game fill­ing the other ar­eas of the boxs­core.

“Josie did a great job set­ting the tone in the first half,” Fun­sten said. “She made some early shots and re­ally, she had a com­plete game with four as­sists, four re­bounds and four steals. That’s a very well-bal­anced game and she dis­rupted things for them de­fen­sively and made some re­ally nice de­ci­sions of­fen­sively.”

Bar­rett and Kaiser are two play­ers who ben­e­fit from each other. When Bar­rett starts hot like she did Fri­day, Kaiser has more room to ei­ther drive or post up. Con­versely, when Kaiser is scor­ing and at­tack­ing, it tends to pull de­fend­ers in, and Bar­rett doesn’t need much time or space to get a shot off.

Up­per Dublin scored the first nine points of the game and led 17-6 be­fore Chel­tenham (7-7, 4-3 SOL Amer­i­can) se­nior Mia Leonard slowed the game down by get­ting to the line. The for­ward, who fin­ished with a dou­ble-dou­ble of 16 points and 11 re­bounds, drew foul af­ter foul and got the Pan­thers into the bonus not even a minute into the se­cond quar­ter.

“We were try­ing to push the pace of the game early and we had six team fouls five min­utes into the game, which is not typ­i­cal of us,” Fun­sten said. “We thought we could take ad­van­tage of some things by push­ing the pace early and they did a great job of get­ting the ball to Leonard and slow­ing the game back down to where they wanted to play.”

Much like Kaiser is the key to her team, Leonard has been a huge piece for Chel­tenham this sea­son, mak­ing vast im­prove­ments in her game the past few sea­sons. She had mon­ster show­ings in the Pan­thers’ two prior games this week, both wins, and kept bat­tling all night against Up­per Dublin.

“They’re big and they’re a very good re­bound­ing team, es­pe­cially with Leonard,” Fun­sten said. “She played phe­nom­e­nal and it’s re­ally im­pres­sive how much she’s im­proved over the last cou­ple years. She is a force down there and she re­ally gave us trou­ble.”

UD led 28-14 at the half, but started the third a lit­tle lethar­gic. A time­out by Fun­sten got the team righted and Kaiser came back out and took over. Af­ter the stop with 4:23 left in the frame, the ju­nior five points in the next two min­utes and added an­other bas­ket with 17 sec­onds left in the quar­ter.

Where much of her of­fense last year came by clean­ing up misses or be­ing set up around the rim, Kaiser has brought a much more di­verse game to the court this year. She didn’t make a 3-pointer on Fri­day, but can shoot them and in­side the arc, she just finds ways to put the ball through the rim.

“She works on her game tire­lessly, she’s had the abil­ity since last year to fin­ish around the bas­ket,” Fun­sten said. “She works on her post moves, she worked on her guard skills, she worked on her out­side shoot­ing and she also worked on her de­fense. Ni­cole is the type of player who when other peo­ple talk to me about our team, it’s usu­ally about her and how much she’s im­proved.”

The ju­nior put an em­pha­sis on it to start the fourth quar­ter. She stole the ball just over mid­court and took it all the way for a layup 44 sec­onds in, then scored again 17 sec­onds later af­ter Bar­rett stole it and set up Kaiser dur­ing a 3-on-1 break.

“I’m very proud of her. Some­times you get a kid who works hard and it doesn’t pay off, but she seems to be the type where it’s all pay­ing off,” Fun­sten said. “It’s not her just show­ing up in Novem­ber and she’s sud­denly a bet­ter player, she is work­ing at it tire­lessly.”

Up­per Dublin has a stiff test on Sun­day in Arch­bishop Ryan. The Rag­dolls en­tered their Fri­day game with Hal­la­han un­beaten at 130. The teams will clash at 8:30 pm in the fi­nal game of the Mag­gie Lu­cas Play-By-Play Clas­sic at Philly U.

“You want to be chal­lenged,” Fun­sten said. “Chel­tenham came ready tonight and we get a great chal­lenge in Arch­bishop Ryan and we’re re­ally ex­cited for the op­por­tu­nity to play them.” Up­per Dublin 48, Chel­tenham 30

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