BY JEFF FALK
MILLERSVILLE – Five. Nine. 19. 24. The sequential progression tells its own story.
Perhaps Cedar Crest’s Class of 2015 girls’ basketball players should be defined more from where they came than where they ended up.
On Tuesday night at Penn Manor High School, the group of Falcons who returned the girls’ basketball program to prominence had their four-year journey ended by mighty Cumberland Valley, 55-28 in the second round of the PIAA Class AAAA postseason. Though Cedar Crest welcomed the challenge of meeting the Eagles, the Falcons did not perform the necessary tasks for upsetting the reigning Class AAAA state champions, the top-ranked squad in Pennsylvania and nationally recognized Cumberland Valley.
Cedar Crest fell into an early hole, did not play with reckless abandon or the prerequisite chip on its shoulder and never found a game pace in which it felt comfortable. The Falcons trailed by 13 points early in the second quarter, by 23 points at halftime and by 30 late in the third period.
The loss ended Cedar Crest’s campaign at 24-7. Along the way, the Falcons finished fourth in District Three, recorded their first state playoff victory in recent memory and captured the Lancaster-Lebanon League championship.
District Three champion Cumberland Valley improved to 29-1 overall and moved into Saturday’s quarterfinal round of the state postseason.
“When they were freshmen and I was a first-year coach, Cedar Crest basketball was irrelevant,” said Cedar Crest head coach Jim Donmoyer of his seniors. “My first year was an awful season. They’ve been where I’ve been. It was nice last year to turn it around. I will always remember these kids as being the group that turned Cedar Crest basketball around. They were 52-28 in three years. They’re the first team I had win a state playoff game, get to Giant Center, win the Lancaster-Lebanon league and had a 14-game win streak. Tonight their time ends. My time with them ends. I’ll remember this class for that.
“After the game in the locker room I told them I’m proud of the season they put together,” continued Donmoyer. “They didn’t give up on me or each other. There’s no shame in what we did this year.”
Despite the fact that they led 2-0 on a stick back from senior Rachel Miller, the Falcons did not get off to a good start. Cumberland Valley notched the next seven points and opened an 18-5 bulge two minutes into the second period.
“We needed a good first quarter,” said Donmoyer. “That would’ve given us confidence. The longer you hang around, anything can happen.
“We had to stop (Cumberland Valley all-world junior guard, Kelly) Jekot, and make shots,” added Donmoyer. “Fifteen points was reasonable. But sometimes we didn’t shoot the shots we had. I’d rather have missed shots than turnovers. But I don’t know if there’s anything we could’ve done. A lot of things needed to happen for us to win.”
The only semblance of a run that the Falcons were able to piece together all evening came in the middle of the second period when sophomore Alyssa Austin scored on a put back and an inside move and Ariel Jones stroked a pair of free throws to pull CC to within 24-11. But the Eagles ended the half with ten unanswered points, the last three of which came from Kelly Jekot from mid court that beat the second-period buzzer.
“Probably when it was 13-5 in the first quarter,” said Donmoyer, when asked when he knew his side was in trouble. “They’re (the Eagles) an awesome team. They’re number one in the state for a reason. We’ve played some pretty good teams, but we haven’t seen that kind of defensive team. I guess we just weren’t ready for that type of team.
“You try to contain Jekot, but the other kids shot lights out,” Donmoyer continued. “It seemed like everything they shot went in. They made a couple of easy baskets in the second quarter. At that point, we could at least see them, and then we fell apart. But we did have a lead tonight.”
The Eagles held Cedar Crest to a lone Austin stick back over the first 4:19 of the second half and extended their lead to 39-13. Cumberland Valley carried a 49-18 bulge into the final eight minutes of action.
Cedar Crest did out score Cumberland Valley 10-6 in the fourth quarter.
“I tweeted out something like, ‘to be the best you’ve got to beat the best’,” said Donmoyer. “Someone’s going to have to beat them (the Eagles) to be state champions. Obviously we wanted to win. It tells you how you measure up to them. This is, without a doubt, the best team we’ve played.
“I’m all about effort and working hard,” added Donmoyer. “If they’re better, they’re better. We weren’t our normal attacking, aggressive selves. All I can ask is to play hard. That’s all I ask. We had a great season.”
Cumberland Valley outscored Cedar Crest 34-18 inside the arc and 12-3 beyond it. Kelly Jekot, who has committed to play Division One basketball at Villanova, notched 15 points and sister Katie Jekot tallied 14.
With ten points, Austin was the only Falcon scorer to reach double figures.
“I had five seniors tonight and I played them pretty extensively,” said Donmoyer. “I saw them grow up before my eyes. Moving forward, we’ve got a very, very good post player (Austin) coming back. We have a really good point guard (Jones) coming back. You go from six seniors to being young again. We’ve got people coming back, two of the most important positions covered and we will fill in everywhere else. And our JV team had a good year. This experience can only help them.”
Cedar Crest 2014-15 Results
|7:30 PM||L 38-51|
|6:00 PM||W 55-42|
|7:30 PM||W 67-37|
|7:30 PM||W 55-41|
|7:30 PM||W 45-19|
|7:30 PM||L 48-49|
|7:30 PM||L 42-45|
|6:00 PM||W 67-23|
|7:30 PM||W 61-57|
|7:30 PM||W 55-32|
|7:30 PM||W 71-50|
|7:30 PM||W 62-31|
|7:30 PM||W 91-36|
|7:30 PM||W 61-29|
|6:00 PM||W 41-31|
|7:30 PM||W 51-34|
|7:30 PM||W 43-28|
|7:30 PM||W 51-28|
|7:30 PM||W 65-61|
|7:30 PM||W 56-39|
|7:30 PM||W 56-25|
|6:00 PM||L 47-58|
|7:00 PM||W 68-62|
|7:00 PM||W 47-33|
|02/14 * #||
|1:00 PM||W 58-49|
|6:00 PM||W 59-42|
|6:30 PM||W 61-56|
|5:00 PM||L 42-48|
|8:00 PM||L 43-57|
|4:00 PM||W 53-44|
|7:30 PM||L 28-55|