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Calm demeanor pays off for Megan Albertus December 23, 2008

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BARDONIA – As close as the game stood at halftime, Joe McGuinness saw no reason to panic. His team played hard and played well throughout the first half, only to watch easy shots go everywhere but in.

Woodlands, in its helter-skelter way, made matters worse for Albertus Magnus, sinking a few shots from the farthest reaches of the compact gym.

“We really had a good effort even in the first half, but they were just making some incredible shots,” McGuinness said.

Eventually, his patience was rewarded. The Falcons’ strong defense fueled an offensive renewal and stifled Woodlands, which went without a field goal for more than 14 minutes in the second half of Albertus’ 61-36 girls basketball win yesterday.

Senior star Alaina Walker found her shooting touch after a slow start. The St. Bonaventure-bound point guard scored 10 of her game-high 24 points and helped corral Woodlands star Porsha Postell during a 16-2 run over the final five minutes of the third quarter.

“We just settled down into our offense,” said Walker, who also had 19 rebounds. “In the first half we were too overexcited. We were overshooting the ball instead of looking for good shots. In the second half everyone just calmed down and mellowed out and we got easy baskets on fast breaks and layups.”

The second-half surge turned a close game into a rout. Albertus (3-0) double-teamed Postell every time she came within 25 feet of the basket, but it wasn’t until the Kentucky-bound senior picked up her fourth foul in the third quarter that the Falcons finally succeeded.

As a result, they held Woodlands (1-2) without a field goal for a 14:14 stretch.

“(The double-teaming defense) didn’t bother me,” Postell said. “I just had to be really careful because I didn’t want them to call an offensive foul.”

Postell scored 14 points and had three assists as Woodlands trailed just 28-25 at halftime. She finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks but made just one field goal in the second half and shot 5 for 20 from the field overall.

“Knowing Porsha, she likes to attack and she’s a great player. She’ll shoot it from wherever she has to,” Walker said. “Our defense, with the way we play, we had to control her. Her teammates look for her. So if we take her out of the equation, it gives us the advantage.”

Despite doing the bulk of the scoring, Postell had help in the first half. Tay Parker and Brittany Bradwell both made 3-pointers to open up the defense, and eighth-grader Shanice Perry had seven of her team-best 12 rebounds.

Woodlands couldn’t sustain that pace in the second half. Playing mostly six players and without coach Siobhan McDermott, the Falcons simply unraveled and Albertus took advantage.

Felicia DaCruz (13 points), Meghan Richards (four points, six rebounds) and Theresa Miller (seven points, eight rebounds, two blocks) led a balanced attack.

“I think we wore them down a little bit,” McGuinness said. “We played 10 players and I don’t think they can go as deep as we can.”

Woodlands assistant coach Todd Postell (Porsha’s uncle) filled in for McDermott, whose father passed away yesterday.

“Part of it was team effort,” Porsha Postell said. “With everything that was going on with coach, it was kind of hard.”