ANNVILLE – Shoot for the stars? Or entertain modest expectations based on limitations?
While some scholastic girls’ basketball teams are currently scratching and clawing to reach their pre-season goals, Annville-Cleona has already met its. Now is the time for the Little Dutchmen to re-assess and set more lofty goals.
On Friday night, Annville-Cleona attained another achievement by edging Camp Hill 34-33 in the quarterfinal round of the District Three Class AA playoffs. Junior Alex Siebecker’s charity toss with five seconds remaining snapped a 33-all deadlock and proved to be the winning point.
Off an in-bounds play out of a timeout, the Little Dutchmen got the ball to Siebecker on the left baseline about eight feet from the basket. Siebecker immediately made a strong and aggressive move to the hoop and was hacked on the arm.
Siebecker’s free throw was one of only two made by the Little Dutchmen all evening.
The win made fourth-seeded Annville-Cleona 15-9 overall and a Class AA semifinalist. The triumph also assured the Little Dutchmen of at least two more games this season, one of which will be Monday at 6 p.m. at Penn Manor, where they will meet top-seeded York Catholic, which defeated Hanover 56-14.
Camp Hill, the fifth seed which edged A-C by three points in the exact same round of Districts last season, concluded its campaign at 13-9.
“Our preseason goals were to finish in the top of the section, and we finished second,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Jamie Walborn. “And we wanted to take it a step further. We tried to build on last year’s goals. And we wanted to go to districts and win a game. We have gotten those goals tonight. But I told them (her players), ‘let’s not be content because we reached our goals.’ We could finish in the top three of our district.
“We definitely wanted to have a winning season,” said Little Dutchman Kayla Parks, who tallied 11 A-C points. “We wanted to be a better team. Another goal was to play in Giant Center. Another was winning this game, beating Camp Hill, because they beat us last year.”
The outcome of a tight game came down to a tense fourth quarter.
Freshman Meredith Bachman gave the Little Dutchmen a 33-31 edge with 1:51 to go on a hard move to the hole, but the Lions tied it with 21 seconds left, setting up Siebecker’s heroics. Earlier in the period, with Camp Hill going a four-minute stretch without a point, Annville-Cleona got a three-pointer and short jumper from Siebecker and a driving lay-in by Elaina Wanamker to forge a 31-27 advantage.
“We didn’t call anything,” said Walborn of her final timeout. “But finishing quarters was something we worked on during our long break. I explained to them (her players) during the timeout before, ‘if they (the Lions) score we want to get the ball to Alex, Kayla or Elaina.’ And we want to get to the basket, and either score or get fouled. And we did a good job.
“She (Siebecker) just gives you the advantage of penetrating and dishing,” Walborn added. “We missed her when she was out (with an injury). She played well tonight.”
“We called a timeout and set up a play,” said Parks. “We had a couple of different options. I was an option. Elaina was an option. And Alex was an option. We were supposed to do what we did. She got fouled and she made her foul shot. And foul shots win games.”
After the Little Dutchmen limited Camp Hill to a mere bucket over the first 6:17 of the second half, the Lions closed out the third stanza with four straight points to assume a 25-24 edge. Parks had given Annville-Cleona a 24-21 margin with a jumper midway through the third.
“Things went really well,” said Parks. “We won. It was a great way to start off the playoffs.
“We definitely needed to play defense,” Parks added. “We needed to run our offense. We had to stay low on defense. And ‘boxing out’ was a big one.”
With Siebecker going for 13 points, her and Parks accounted for 24 of Annville-Cleona’s total points. Camp Hill was just five-for-12 at the foul line and did not connect on a three-point attempt.
“We told our girls that we should’ve been up ten at halftime if we would’ve been boxing out,” said Walborn. “They’re (the Lions) quick. They’re athletic. But we got some big rebounds at the end.”
“It’s been a good year for us,” said Parks. “But we remembered last year’s loss to Camp Hill, and it was a spark for us.”
The Little Dutchmen got off on the wrong foot, failed to score during the opening 3:47 of the contest and trailed by nine points early. But a three-point play by Parks seemed to spark A-C, and it outscored Camp Hill 16-4 over the next eight minutes to establish a 16-13 margin.
Five different Annville-Cleona players scored during the stretch, before the home squad took a 20-19 edge to the break.
“I was saving it for the end,” said Walborn of the early timeout that she didn’t call. “I wanted them (her players) to play through it. There were nerves because we were missing easy shots. I didn’t want to call a timeout and get on them about it.
“I don’t think we were making our shots,” said Parks. “We played alright defensively, but we weren’t helping on the tall girl. But the shots started to fall, and we started playing from there.”
Annville-Cleona will have a short turn-around in its preparation for York Catholic, the seemingly perennial favorite in Class AA.
“It’s York Catholic,” said Walborn. “They (her players) know it’s tough. But it’s districts. You have no choice but to play hard.”