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IMG_6686BY JEFF FALK

HARRISBURG – While certainly never a desired result, we can learn things from losing that winning could never teach us. Losing has the power to produce a type of success that winning never could.

Good can come from losing.

On Thursday evening at Central Dauphin East High School, the Palmyra girls’ basketball team took away plenty from a 70-54 school-of-hard-knocks loss to powerful Cumberland Valley, in the championship game of the Mid-Penn Conference playoffs. The Eagles outscored the Cougars in each of the first three periods, in opening a 57-40 bulge, and torched Palmyra’s proud man-to-man defense for a season-high point total.

IMG_6805While the result did not end their season, it gave the Cougars a glimpse of what it might look like. Now 21-3 overall, the Keystone Division champion Cougars will open play in the District Three Class AAAA playoffs on Tuesday at home against either Cocalico or Cedar Cliff, as the number one seed.

In its first season in Class AAAA, Palmyra’s three losses this season have come to the classification’s second, fourth and fifth seeds.

Second-seeded Cumberland Valley, the talented champions of the Mid-Penn’s Commonwealth Division, improved to 23-1 on the year. The Eagles repeated as Mid-Penn Conference champions, after Palmyra had gotten them for the 2012-13 conference title.

IMG_6664“What we’re going to take away from this is just the experience of playing the best team in the state,” said Palmyra head coach Ron Berman. “The silver medal is nice. We play for the opportunity to play in big games. It’s tough. Eventually you get your moment of glory. It’s nothing but upside, and the season doesn’t end.

“I told the girls that they’re (the Eagles) about two offensive possessions per quarter better than us,” continued Berman. “That’s a lot. But it’s not impossible. They have eight skilled basketball players and we have good athletes.”

While Palmyra worked for everything it got offensively, points came much easier for Cumberland Valley. Using a devastating transition game that at times didn’t even allow the Cougars to set up their full court pressure defense, the Eagles took control of the outcome late in the first quarter, but didn’t fully put the Cougars away until early in the fourth.

With the score knotted at nine, Cumberland Valley embarked on a 9-4 journey that ended the opening stanza. The Eagles then netted the first five points of the second quarter to open their first double-digit lead of the evening, at 23-13.

IMG_6596“I thought we played really well,” said Berman. “There’s a reason they’re the number-one team in the state, the defending state champions and nationally ranked. That’s the first team I’ve ever coached against that we couldn’t keep up with the pace of the movement of the ball. For us to compete, I don’t want to say we have to play the perfect game. But we have to play much better.

“We can’t emulate that type of ball movement in practice,” Berman continued. “Now we have an idea of what a top, top (Class) AAAA team is. We want to be a good AAAA team.”

To its credit, Palmyra did not wilt in the face of adversity.

IMG_6635In the middle of the second period, Molly Gundermann followed up Katie Dembrowski’s three-pointer with a put back that trimmed CV’s advantage to 25-20. Later, Katy McClellan stroked a three-pointer to pull the Cougars to within 31-26.

But Cumberland Valley ended the first half on an 8-2 spree, to carry a 39-27 margin to the locker room.

“Our kids, they can compete against anyone,” said Berman. “They did not back down. We had to get a little luck out there. We had some breakdowns. We lost (number) 24 (CV’s Morgan Baughman) some times, and she hit ‘threes’. If we play them again, we have to make some adjustments.

“I’m not going to back down,” added Berman. “We’re going to do what gets us here. I thought we could score, and we did. They’re (the Eagles) just so much better offensively. It was an exciting game. We’re not going to come in and hold the ball. It’s for the fans. It’s fun.”

IMG_6774The Cougars’ balanced attack featured 13 points apiece from Kristen Smoluk and McClellan, a dozen by Maria Tukis and 11 from Gundermann. Cumberland Valley junior guard Kelly Jekot, a Villanova recruit, poured in a game-high 26 points.

Palmyra made good on 17 of 21 tries at the foul stripe, but was outscored 44-16 from inside the arc.

“You don’t have any time to prepare for it,” said Berman. “We’re going to play man-to-man. And if you beat me, you beat me. You’ve got to do what got you here. I thought we could do a better job defensively. I thought we moved the ball really well in the first half, and we missed a half-dozen lay-ups.

“They’re (the Eagles) well-coached,” Berman added. “They’re great kids. They have more skilled players.”

IMG_6819Smoluk nailed a trey to open the second half and get Palmyra to within 39-30, and with 2:47 left in the third quarter, Tukis converted an old-fashioned three-point play to move Palmyra to within 49-40 of the lead. But the Eagles scored the last eight points of the period to extend their advantage to 17 points.

McClellan drained a three-pointer in the middle of the final quarter to make Cumberland Valley’s lead 62-49, but it would prove to be the Cougars’ last gasp.

“I love it,” said Berman of the decade-old Mid-Penn Conference tournament. “What I like about our’s is the fact it’s four teams. Everybody’s here. There were four very good teams. You’ve got the four best. I love the format.

“The Lancster-Lebanon League is so different,” continued Berman. “For a long time, the worst division (Section Four) produced the champion (Lancaster Catholic). I think our league make-up is so different. The Commonwealth team is the team playing the best schedule.”

IMG_6746The Cougars enjoyed a couple of modest leads early – 3-0 on a three-pointer from Gundermann and 5-2 courtesy of a stick back by McClellan.

Palmyra (54)

PLAYER FGM FTM FTA 3PM PTS_TOT FT%
Mara Bowman 0 0 0 0 0
Shannon Carmo 0 0 0 0 0
Jessica Dembrowski 0 0 0 0 0
Katie Dembrowski 1 0 0 1 3 0
Molly Gundermann 4 1 2 2 11 0.5
Katy McClellan 4 3 4 2 13 0.75
Hayley Schultz 0 0 0 0 0
Kristen Smoluk 2 8 8 1 13 1
Josie Stovall 1 0 0 2 0
Riley Stovall 0 0 0 0 0
Maria Tukis 3 5 7 1 12 0.714
Kailey Werkheiser 0 0 0 0 0

IMG_6700Cumberland Valley (70)

PLAYER FGM FTM FTA 3PM PTS_TOT FT%
Morgan Baughman 4 0 0 3 11 0
Jennifer Falconer 2 0 2 4 0
Julie Halula 0 0 0 0 0
Katie Jekot 6 2 4 1 15 0.5
Kelly Jekot 10 5 6 1 26 0.833
Ashley Johnson 1 0 0 2 0
Jackie Joyce 0 0 0 0 0
Addison Kirkpatrick 0 0 0 0 0
Meghan Rhoades 3 1 2 7 0.5
Taylor Sneidman 2 0 0 1 5 0
Jessica Tonrey 0 0 0 0 0

IMG_6708

  • Team 1 2 3 4 Final
    Palmyra
    13 14 13 14 54
    Cumberland Valley
    18 21 18 13 70

 Palmyra 2014-15 Results

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
12/05
Dover
5:30 PM W 68-38
12/06
@Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM W 64-26
12/09 *
@Mechanicsburg
7:30 PM W 44-39
12/10
Hempfield
7:30 PM W 52-43
12/12 *
Red Land
7:30 PM W 52-41
12/16 *
@Hershey
7:30 PM W 43-27
12/19 *
Susquehanna Twp.
7:30 PM W 66-37
12/23 *
@Cedar Cliff
7:30 PM W 64-40
12/29 #
@McCaskey
2:00 PM W 53-38
12/30 #
@Ephrata
6:00 PM W 45-39
01/06 *
@Bishop McDevitt
7:30 PM W 68-35
01/09 *
Lower Dauphin
7:30 PM W 48-35
01/10
Muhlenberg
12:30 PM W 52-35
01/13 *
Mechanicsburg
7:30 PM L 26-29
01/16 *
@Red Land
7:30 PM W 64-59
01/17
Cocalico
12:30 PM W 66-32
01/20 *
Hershey
7:30 PM W 44-37
01/23 *
@Susquehanna Twp.
7:30 PM W 59-38
01/27 *
Cedar Cliff
7:30 PM W 66-33
01/28
@Cedar Crest
7:30 PM L 61-65
01/30 *
Bishop McDevitt
7:30 PM W 59-25
02/03 *
@Lower Dauphin
7:30 PM W 42-29
02/10 #
Greencastle-Antrim
6:00 PM W 49-35
02/12 #
@Cumberland Valley
6:00 PM L 54-70

IMG_6638District Three

 Class AAAA Power Rankings

AAAA School W L T Rating

1 Palmyra Area 20- 2- 0 0.823729

2 Cumberland Valley 20- 1- 0 0.806947

3 Central Dauphin East 20- 1- 0 0.792950

4 Cedar Crest 18- 3- 0 0.789167

5 Mechanicsburg Area 20- 2- 0 0.763141

6 Dallastown Area 17- 5- 0 0.757877

7 Red Lion Area 15- 6- 0 0.756518

IMG_68078 Central York 18- 4- 0 0.747692

9 Hempfield 15- 7- 0 0.744313

10 Lebanon 17- 5- 0 0.742630

11 Red Land 17- 5- 0 0.740391

12 J P McCaskey 16- 6- 0 0.735721

13 Governor Mifflin 16- 6- 0 0.731887

14 Ephrata Area 16- 6- 0 0.719940

15 New Oxford 16- 6- 0 0.717198

IMG_678516 Cocalico 16- 6- 0 0.692722

17 Cedar Cliff 13- 9- 0 0.686195

18 Harrisburg 12- 9- 0 0.677720

19 Daniel Boone 13- 9- 0 0.677025

20 Exeter Township 12- 9- 0 0.658345

21 Central Dauphin 9- 11- 0 0.641318

22 Manheim Township 10- 12- 0 0.629668

23 Hershey 11- 11- 0 0.621600

24 Muhlenberg 10- 12- 0 0.611765

25 Lower Dauphin 10- 11- 0 0.608203

26 York Country Day School 16- 5- 0 0.599189

IMG_657527 South Western 8- 13- 0 0.549923

28 Wilson Senior 6- 15- 0 0.539303

29 Elizabethtown Area 8- 14- 0 0.536014

30 Penn Manor 7- 15- 0 0.526221

31 William Penn 7- 15- 0 0.519693

32 Warwick 6- 16- 0 0.504665

33 Conestoga Valley 7- 15- 0 0.494249

34 Shippensburg Area 7- 15- 0 0.486946

35 Solanco 5- 17- 0 0.444533

36 Chambersburg Area 3- 19- 0 0.422036 0

37 Reading 3- 19- 0 0.420592

IMG_660838 Spring Grove Area 2- 20- 0 0.372861

39 Waynesboro Area 3- 16- 0 0.352671

40 Carlisle 1- 21- 0 0.324840

41 Garden Spot 0- 21- 0 0.278677

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