BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – While the better team may have won, it is unclear whether or not that side deserved to win. But perhaps the most important thing to take away from the Cedar Crest girls’ basketball team’s performance last night was that in the recent past, the Falcons wouldn’t have come away with a win under the same circumstances.
On Monday night at ‘The Cage’, Cedar Crest scored a 44-41 non-league, between-holiday triumph over Reading, without its ‘A’ Game. The Falcons were sluggish all evening long, missed a ton of shots and committed mistake after mistake, but had enough moxie at the end to pull out the result.
Playing its first game since winning the Eastern York Christmas Tournament last week, Cedar Crest overcome a late four-point deficit by holding Reading without a point over the final 2:36 of the game. The win lifted Cedar Crest to 6-2 overall, while Reading, the largest school district in District Three, fell to 1-5.
With the triumph, Cedar Crest improved to 3-1 in games played outside of Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League.
“That’s the positive you’ve got to look at,” said Cedar Crest head coach Jim Donmoyer. “Last year or the year before, we might not have won it. There’s going to be nights when you win games like this.
“We played the worst game of the year, without a doubt,” Donmoyer continued. “But a win’s a win. I understand that we’ ve got to play better than this going forward. We must’ve had 20-plus turnovers. We must’ve missed 15-plus lay-ups. It was just sloppy.”
Facing a 41-37 deficit and time running down, the Falcons got back-to-back crucial three-point field goals from Rachel Miller and Emily Wagner, 24 seconds apart, with less than two minutes to play. A charity toss from Nikki Wagner with 16 seconds to go helped Cedar Crest ice it, as did its aggressive full court man-to-man defense.
“That was huge,” said Donmoyer of Miller and E. Wagner’s critical shots. “I said to my coaches, ‘I wish we could get up four or five points.’ Emily didn’t have a great shooting night, but that one was big. When they (the Red Knights) take Rachel away, someone has to step up and make shots.
“This is their (his players’) second week off,” Donmoyer continued. “They’re not in school. I don’t know what their routines are like. It’s a little disruptive. Maybe it was a little letdown after winning the tournament. Maybe we took them (the Red Knights) a little lightly. I don’t know what to say.”
After Reading had led the entire first half, Cedar Crest took its first lead of the evening – 24-23 – on a three-pointer from E. Wagner three minutes into the third quarter. Two minutes later, a Miller trey gave the Falcons a 29-27 edge.
A three-ball from N. Wagner midway through the final stanza gave Cedar Crest a 37-35 margin.
“She’s one of our top three scorers,” said Donmoyer of junior Alex Rich, who went down with an injury late in the third quarter. “When Alex goes down, it takes some scoring punch away. Alex penetrates and dishes. She’s tough on defense and hustles. Once she goes out, it’s tough to replace her. People just have to step in.
“After you win a Christmas tournament, you worry about a lull,” added Donmoyer. “You read all this stuff. I’m sure they (his players) get a little full of themselves. We can’t be reading our press clippings. We need to play. I saw Reading on film, and they press. They play close games. I was hoping it wouldn’t be a close game.”
The Falcons trailed by as much as 12-2 in the first half. But thanks in part to a technical foul called on Reading late in the second quarter, the Falcons outscored the Red Knights 16-7 over the final 5:48 of the half, to pull within 19-18 of the lead.
Miller had eight points in the run and Rich contributed four, while seniors Abby Munnion and Kayla Horn each added a pair of foul shots.
“I don’t want to peak now,” said Donmoyer. “You’re going to have duds like that. We didn’t play our best. We got a little eye-opener.
“We didn’t shoot well in that first quarter,” continued Donmoyer. “But if you want to win games, your defense can’t take a night off. We gave up 41 points, that’s excellent. But offensively we struggled.”
Cedar Crest didn’t score for the opening six minutes of the contest, until Munnion converted a driving lay-up. And the Falcons wouldn’t score again until 2:12 of the second quarter had elapsed, when Miller drained a three-pointers.
“We only won nine games last year,” said Donmoyer. “You asked me before the season how many we’d win and I said more than nine. Right now, we’re four ahead of where we were last year.
“This was our first clunker in eight games,” Donmoyer added. “I thought this would be the group to turn it around. But I’m not sure we’d be 6-2 at this point. But I definitely thought we’d have four or five wins.”
With 17 points, Miller was the only Falcon scorer to reach double digits. With four different players connecting, Cedar Crest registered nine three-point field goals.
The Falcons made only three two-pointers.
LEBANON SPORTS BUZZ
Girls’ Basketball Rankings
2. Cedar Crest
3. Lebanon High
6. Northern Lebanon
7. Lebanon Catholic