Bucks County Herald

Spartan girls lose opener

DAVID CAMPBELL

Baby steps.

Coming off of last year’s trying two-win campaign, Solebury School entered 2017-18 with nary a senior on head coach Tonya Grant-Brown’s 14-woman roster.

“We have a really young, new team,” junior Liv Colbert said. “Just having a coach like Tonya, who has so much experience, is really helpful.”

The Spartans admittedly struggled in their season opener on Friday: a 53-18 loss to Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School in the George School Cougar Classic in Newtown.

Solebury was held without a field goal in the second and third quarters.

The Spartans played the Blue Pride even at 9 in the fourth quarter.

“The first three quarters,” Grant-Brown said, “we weren’t there. We weren’t patient enough. We didn’t run our offense. And I saw a little selfishness in a couple of the players. For what reason, I don’t know.

“In the fourth quarter,” Grant-Brown added, “we turned it around. And we played much better and hopefully they’ll build off of that fourth quarter because when we ran the plays, they saw that it worked.”

Solebury went on to lose the consolation game to Academy of the New Church, 26-24, the next day. The Spartans led 10-4 after one quarter.

“We got game experience,” Colbert said, “and that’s what a lot of people on this team, myself included, need. A lot of us are new to the game.”

Freshman Paola Naughton is new to the team, not the game.

Naughton, a resident of Doylestown, scored five against Cristo Rey. Grant-Brown lauded Naughton’s passing skills and her unselfishness on the floor.

“She has great leadership qualities,” Grant-Brown said.

“Paola’s a great leader, as well as Addie,” Colbert said.

Addie Groth-Tuft has returned for her junior season. The Lambertville, N.J., resident scored a team-high seven against Cristo Rey. She had three of the Spartans’ five field goals in the game, including a pair in the fourth quarter when Solebury began to find its rhythm. Naughton had four points in the fourth.

“You just felt the energy go up in the fourth quarter,” said Colbert, who finished with five points and led the team in rebounds. “I think that came from feeding off of each other’s energy.”

Junior ZiJing Zhai added a third-quarter free throw for the Spartans. Sophomores Arlene Ricks and Nicole Cosner also saw extended minutes.

“We just need more practice,” Naughton said, “and we need more experience.”

That should come. Solebury (0-3) has four games remaining in December and a rematch with Cristo Rey in Philadelphia on Jan. 17.

“We’re just kind of working with what we have so far,” Naughton said.

“We’ve had only four practices so far,” Colbert added. “Now, we can take what we learned from [Friday’s] game and work on [what we learned] in practice.”

For what it’s worth, Grant-Brown isn’t about to abandon ship. Less than two years ago, she led the Spartans to the Penn-Jersey Athletic Association (PJAA) championship. Groth-Tuft started as a freshman for Grant-Brown in the title tilt.

“It’s a building block,” Grant-Brown, now in her sixth season, said on Friday evening, “and I’m not giving up. There’s no need.”

dcampbell@buckscountyherald.com

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