Lebanon Sports Buzz
Breaking News

IMG_4982BY JEFF FALK

SOUTH LEBANON – The game is played on an 84-foot long court, with its goals hung ten feet in the air. So is basketball a vertical game or a horizontal game?

Differing styles of play had very little to do with making last night’s Cedar Crest-Palmyra match-up one of the most highly anticipated Lebanon County non-league girls’ basketball contests ever. But they did help turn it into an instant classic.

For one Wednesday night at ‘The Cage’, the Falcons’ vertical game trumped the Cougars’ horizontal game, 65-61, in a rare overtime outcome that exceeded its hype. The Falcons outscored the Cougars 13-9 in the four-minute extra session, after Crest’s Rachel Miller had sent the game to OT with a driving lay-up that tied the game at 52 and beat the regulation buzzer.

IMG_4972Down 52-49 with seven seconds left in the fourth quarter, Maddie Rakow made one of two free throws, but one of her Falcon teammates emerged from a pile with the loose rebound and quickly got the ball to Miller on the left wing. Instead of shooting, Miller took it hard to the hole and scored just ahead of the horn.

Riding that momentum, Cedar Crest wasted little time getting the ball down low to sophomore forward Alyssa Austin at the beginning of the overtime, opening a 59-54 lead with a 7-2 run. The Cougars stayed in it on the strength of two Kristen Smoluk treys 18 seconds apart, but teammate Katy McClellan’s three-point attempt with four seconds remaining, that would’ve tied it, drew only iron.

Obviously, the game was more than just a late-season contest between two successful Lebanon County girls’ basketball programs. Both Cedar Crest and Palmyra are fighting for championships in their respective divisions in the Lancaster-Lebanon League and Mid-Penn Conference.

IMG_4948The win was Cedar Crest’s 12th straight and lifted it to  16-3 overall, while Palmyra, which had rattled off 13 straight victories earlier in the year, slipped to 18-2 on the season. Entering the fray, the Cougars were the top-ranked Class AAAA team in District Three, while the Falcons were rated fourth.

“Basketball is a combination of the vertical and horizontal,” said Cedar Crest head coach Jim Donmoyer. “If you’re big, it’s a vertical game. If you’re quick, it’s a horizontal game. But you’ve got to have both to be successful.”

“We want it to be a horizontal game,” said Palmyra head coach Ron Berman. “I’ve never really had any vertical players. I’d love to get some. But we have to make it a horizontal game.”

IMG_4898Over the first 27 minutes of action, Cedar Crest handled the Cougars’ vaunted full-court pressure defense adequately enough, and opened a 45-37 advantage on an inside move by Austin, with 5:11 remaining in the fourth quarter. But it was at that point that Palmyra cranked up the intensity a couple of notches.

An inside bucket by senior Maria Tukis sparked the Cougars’ 15-4 burst, and Palmyra assumed a 52-49 edge with 19 seconds left on a pair of charity tosses from Kristen Smoluk. Feeding off Cedar Crest turnovers, Palmyra went 11-for-16 at the foul line during the run and received six points from Molly Gundermann.

“Honestly, it was a blur,” said Donmoyer of the game’s conclusion. “All I know is that she (Miller) made a lay-up at the buzzer. I didn’t know if we tied it or won it. But then we came out strong in overtime.

IMG_4955“We had ten turnovers at halftime,” Donmoyer continued. “We didn’t do very well handling their press, but we did do better. But then at the end, we didn’t take care of the ball. We didn’t handle the ball all that well.”

“It was a great game,” said Berman. “How many times did we come back? We had a chance to win it. We just didn’t get a rebound. We just didn’t make a play.

“This team, we’re just doing it on hustle and effort,” continued Berman. “We don’t have those 6-3, 6-2 bodies in there. We had no preparation for Cedar Crest. A team like Cedar Crest, you’ve got to have some preparation time, because of their inside game.”

The Falcons held Palmyra scoreless for the first three minutes of the second half and got three in-close buckets from Austin to turn a two-point locker room deficit into a 33-29 margin. The Cedar Crest advantage reached 38-32 on an old-fashioned three-point play by Rakow, before Katie Dembrowski responded for the Cougars with a trey.

IMG_4835“She’s huge inside,” said Donmoyer of the 6-3 Austin. “When we need a bucket, that’s where we go. Her feet and hands are incredible. She’s tough inside. The size in the second half was to our advantage, and our kids looked to the size. It’s also about making good entry passes.

“Our inside kids got pretty much what they wanted,” Donmoyer added. “We made the effort to get it inside. Defensively, we played man (-to-man) and mixed it up a little bit.”

“We came back with the pressure,” said Berman. “But I don’t know if they did any better or worse against it. We’re not used to being behind. It’s only happened in three games this year.

“Obviously we want to refocus,” added Berman. “We always talk about bouncing back. But we love the competition.”

IMG_4811With eight overtime tallies, Austin poured in a game-high 26 points on 11 field goals and four-of-six free throwing, while Rakow struck for another ten Crest points. Palmyra was led by Tukis and her 18 points, Smoluk’s 17 and 12 from Gundermann.

Palmyra outscored Cedar Crest 21-12 from beyond the arc and 18-13 at the foul line. But the Falcons enjoyed a 40-22 point discrepancy in the paint.

“They’re number one in the district,” said Donmoyer of the Cougars. “They’re a state-ranked team. If we want to get where we want to go, we’ve got to play teams like that and we’ve got to beat teams like that. It’s big with confidence. Our confidence should be high after this.

“Gundermann shoots from anywhere,” Donmoyer continued. “Tukis is tough. They’ve got five or six good players. They’re tough. They’re going to be alright down the stretch. They’re legit.”

IMG_5030“That was just Kristen sticking the ball in the basket,” said Berman of Smoluk’s back-to-back treys in overtime. “It wasn’t by design. She just had open threes. Maria Tukis is just an outstanding student-athlete who plays with such intensity every minute she’s on the floor. I don’t know if I’ve ever coached anyone like her.

“They (the Falcons) have guards. They have inside players. They have shooters,” continued Berman. “They’re definitely the best team we’ve played. They have all the pieces of the puzzle to make a long district run. But I think our girls are starting to understand that it’s hard to defend 6-2, 6-3.”

After the Falcons had ended the opening stanza with a couple of Austin foul shots, they opened the second period on a 6-1 run, courtesy of lay-in from Emi Wagner, a put back by Rakow and Ariel Jones’ stop-and-pop, to establish a 23-15 margin. But with McClellan, Gundermann, Tukis, Katie Dembrowski and Josie Stovall all contributing offensively, Palmyra outscored Cedar Crest 12-2 over the next five minutes to forge a 27-25 edge.

IMG_4804“Coach Berman and I talked before the game about staying on each other’s schedules,” said Donmoyer. “It’s fun. It’s fun to play in-county teams. It’s a good atmosphere. It’s good for the community.

“We’re playing good,” Donmyer added. “We’re hitting our stride. We’re peaking at the right time.”

“I love the county atmosphere,” said Berman. “I love the crowd. The girls enjoy playing in front of crowds like this. We feel like we have two good programs. We were talking before the game, ‘We’re 20 minutes away, let’s take advantage of it’. But I’d like to get a better date. We both expended a lot of energy.”

The game was tied at seven, and then at ten, early on. But the Falcons took advantage of a 3:38 Cougar dry spell to build a 15-10 lead, on a stick back from Austin and a Nikki Wagner trey.

“Last year when we played them, we had the same group of kids, besides Maddie (Rakow),” said Donmoyer. “But what a difference a year makes. We’re maturing. I don’t think they (his players) were ready for the likes of Palmyra (last year). We’re just happy for the win, and moving forward.”

“When we played them last year, Austin was scoring 29 points in the JV game,” said Berman. “And then you throw in Rakow, and they’ve got two big players in the lineup.”

Palmyra (61)

PLAYER FGM FTM FTA 3PM PTS_TOT FT%
Katie Dembrowski 2 0 0 2 6 0
Molly Gundermann 3 4 6 2 12 0.667
Katy McClellan 3 1 2 7 0.5
Kristen Smoluk 4 5 6 3 16 0.833
Josie Stovall 0 1 2 1 0.5
Riley Stovall 0 0 0 0 0
Maria Tukis 6 7 8 19 0.875
Kailey Werkheiser 0 0 0 0 0

IMG_4800Cedar Crest (65)

PLAYER FGM FTM FTA 3PM PTS_TOT FT%
Alyssa Austin 11 4 6 26 0.667
Ariel Jones 2 4 5 8 0.8
Rachel Miller 3 2 2 1 9 1
Madison Rakow 4 2 3 10 0.667
Alex Rich 0 1 2 1 0.5
Makaley Ruhl 0 0 0 0 0
Emmi Wagner 1 0 0 2 0
Nikki Wagner 3 0 0 3 9 0

 

  • Team 1 2 3 4 OT1 Final
    Palmyra
    14 15 6 17 9 61
    Cedar Crest
    17 10 11 14 13 65

IMG_4829Cedar Crest 2014-15 Results

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
12/05
Boyertown
7:30 PM L 38-51
12/06
@Muhlenberg
6:00 PM W 55-42
12/12 *
Solanco
7:30 PM W 67-37
12/15 *
@Ephrata
7:30 PM W 55-41
12/17 *
Conestoga Valley
7:30 PM W 45-19
12/19 *
@McCaskey
7:30 PM L 48-49
12/23 *
Hempfield
7:30 PM L 42-45
12/26 #
@Spring Grove
6:00 PM W 67-23
12/27 #
@Conrad Weiser
7:30 PM W 61-57
01/02 *
Manheim Twp.
7:30 PM W 55-32
01/06 *
@Warwick
7:30 PM W 71-50
01/09 *
Penn Manor
7:30 PM W 62-31
01/12 *
@Garden Spot
7:30 PM W 91-36
01/14 *
Elizabethtown
7:30 PM W 61-29
01/16 *
Lebanon
6:00 PM W 41-31
01/20 *
McCaskey
7:30 PM W 51-34
01/22 *
@Hempfield
7:30 PM W 43-28
01/24
@Lower Dauphin
7:30 PM
01/27 *
@Manheim Twp.
7:30 PM W 51-28
01/28
Palmyra
7:30 PM W 65-61

IMG_4861Palmyra 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

IMG_4913

District Three

 Class AAAA Power Rankings

AAAA School W L T Rating

1 Palmyra Area 17 1 0 .839121

2 Central Dauphin East 16 0 0 .802067

3 Cumberland Valley 15 1 0 .791836

4 Cedar Crest 14 3 0 .778794

5 Red Lion Area 13 4 0 .776119

6 Mechanicsburg Area 16 2 0 .767346

IMG_49707 Hempfield 13 5 0 .751730

8 Red Land 14 4 0 .749934

9 Dallastown Area 13 5 0 .736795

10 Central York 14 4 0 .732175

11 Governor Mifflin 12 5 0 .726379

12 New Oxford 13 4 0 .724707

13 Lebanon 13 5 0 .715970

14 J P McCaskey 12 6 0 .710577

15 Cocalico 14 5 0 .700293

16 Cedar Cliff 11 7 0 .695947

IMG_479417 Ephrata Area 12 6 0 .691076

18 Harrisburg 9 6 0 .689716

19 Exeter Township 10 7 0 .664147

20 Daniel Boone 10 8 0 .662394

21 Lower Dauphin 9 8 0 .636873

22 Manheim Township 9 10 0 .633183

23 Muhlenberg 9 9 0 .629619

24 Hershey 8 9 0 .614106

25 York Country Day School 12 4 0 .609544

26 Central Dauphin 5 10 0 .579037

IMG_482327 Wilson Senior 5 11 0 .553546

28 South Western 6 9 0 .552031

29 Penn Manor 7 12 0 .551952

30 Elizabethtown Area 7 12 0 .530304

31 Warwick 5 13 0 .503431

32 William Penn 5 14 0 .484805

33 Conestoga Valley 6 13 0 .483093

34 Shippensburg Area 4 11 0 .442260

35 Reading 3 15 0 .441410

36 Solanco 4 15 0 .423804

IMG_488637 Chambersburg Area 2 14 0 .413226

38 Spring Grove Area 2 15 0 .390811

39 Waynesboro Area 3 12 0 .372123

40 Carlisle 0 17 0 .277432

41 Garden Spot 0 18 0 .272632

IMG_4933

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4838

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4878

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4939

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4782

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4975

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4926

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4928

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


− 2 = seven