BY JEFF FALK
PLYMOUTH MEETING – Losing always hurts more than winning feels good.
On Friday night at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School, during the opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA postseason, the Cedar Crest girls’ basketball team’s once promising season was flushed down the tubes, as the Falcons endured a 65-42 loss to Central Bucks South. Competing without catalyst Ariel Jones, the Falcons experienced difficulties holding on to the ball, fell into a 37-19 hole at halftime and never really made a run at the Titans in the second half.
By ending their season with three straight losses, some of the luster was removed from the Falcons’ shiny 2015-16 campaign. Cedar Crest, the fourth-place finisher out of District Three, concluded its year at 22-6.
Central Bucks South, the third-place finisher out of District One, improved to 22-6 overall.
“I can’t really say it took anything away from our season,” said Cedar Crest head coach Jim Donmoyer. “Governor Mifflin was second in the district for a reason. They pressed us all game. That game was heart-breaking. We played Harrisburg, and they were no slouch. We played quality teams the last three games. Oh-and-three is not good, but it’s not like we lost to bad teams. We didn’t lose to a bad team all year. Three of our losses were by five points or less. This is the only game we got blown out, and that would’ve have happened if we had Ariel.
“The bottom line is we finished 22-6,” continued Donmoyer. “We won a section championship (One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League). We made it to the semifinals of the league playoffs, we made it to the semifinals of the district playoffs and we made it to states. We were a team. Besides Alyssa (Austin) and Ariel, this was the first taste of varsity basketball for most of these kids. I’m pleased. Obviously not by the outcome, but I’m looking at the big picture.”
With Jones watching from the bench, the Falcons played with Central Bucks South for about the first 13 minutes of the contest, thanks to the strong play of Austin.
Austin netted all 12 of Cedar Crest’s first-quarter points, including seven unanswered late in the stanza, as the Falcons erased an 8-2 deficit to take a 9-8 edge. The Falcons’ only other lead of the game came at 2-0, courtesy of an Austin inside maneuver.
“Coming in, we knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Donmoyer. “The kids played hard. As a coach, I never go into a game thinking we can’t win. We didn’t come in here with the idea we were going to lose.
“I knew all week we weren’t going to have Ariel,” Donmoyer continued. “We practiced four days without her. We tried to make some adjustments.But our passing was not the best.”.
The Falcons were within 17-14 of the Titans early in the second period, courtesy of a jumper from Rachel Witherite. Cedar Crest also closed to within 20-16 of Central Bucks South thanks to an Austin hoop, and 23-19 because of a Witherite three-pointer.
But with Austin on the beach with three fouls, the Titans outscored Cedar Crest 14-0 over the final 2:58 of the first half to take an 18-point bulge to the locker room. The game was never competitive after that.
“I wouldn’t say she tried to do too much,” said Donmoyer of Austin. “She had three fouls, and they all came on the defensive end, and I had to sit her. She played well. She didn’t have any fouls in the second half. I thought she took it upon herself to do more on the offensive end. Her sidekick wasn’t there.
“At the half, we were down 18,” added Donmoyer. “At that point, it’s about doing the little things, playing hard and not giving up. For the seniors, those minutes were everything. The game was probably over at that point. We couldn’t handle the pressure. Our main ball handler wasn’t playing. We turned the ball over quite a few times.”
Austin had to work hard for all 19 of her points, while adding six rebounds and five blocks. Central Bucks South, whose scoring was much more balanced, out scored the Falcons 20-9 at the charity stripe.
Donmoyer characterized Jones’ status as ‘unavailable’.
“She’s (Jones) a good kid,” said Donmoyer. “She doesn’t get into trouble. But you’ve got to do certain things in life to be able to do other things.
“She didn’t play tonight,” Donmoyer continued. “Was that a factor? Absolutely. You take a player like her off any team and it’s going to hurt. She’s our leading scorer. She’s our ball handler. She’s our tempo. You take her out of the lineup and it changes everyone’s role.”
The Falcons simply couldn’t mount a charge in the second half. The closest they could come was at 44-27, on two Austin foul shots midway through the third quarter.
“I have no complaints about the season,” said Donmoyer. “This team played hard all year.
“The program is going in the right direction,” concluded Donmoyer. “The last three years it’s been solid. I think we’ll be just as good, if not better, next year. It’s all good.”
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2015-16 Cedar Crest Girls’ Basketball Results
|6:00 PM||W 57-39|
|7:30 PM||W 47-26|
|7:30 PM||W 63-37|
|7:30 PM||W 50-34|
|7:30 PM||W 63-34|
|7:30 PM||W 70-55|
|7:30 PM||W 57-52|
|7:30 PM||L 49-50|
|6:00 PM||W 52-31|
|7:30 PM||W 60-41|
|7:30 PM||W 58-34|
|7:30 PM||W 63-42|
|7:30 PM||W 69-33|
|7:30 PM||W 62-42|
|7:30 PM||W 54-21|
|7:30 PM||W 56-51|
|7:30 PM||W 45-32|
|7:30 PM||W 50-35|
|7:30 PM||W 60-57|
|7:30 PM||L 51-52|
|7:30 PM||W 43-29|
|7:00 PM||W 51-35|
|6:00 PM||L 40-43|
|7:00 PM||W 64-42|
|6:30 PM||W 54-45|
|5:00 PM||L 50-57|
|6:30 PM||L 39-52|
@Central Bucks South
|8:30 PM||L 42-65|