BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – Everybody knows that the queen is pretty much dead. Now the only question is: ‘Does Cedar Crest have the pedigree to ascend to the thrown?’
On Friday night at ‘The Cage’, the Falcon girls’ basketball team stayed very much in contention for the Lancaster-Lebanon Section One crown by defeating the program which had owned it over the last four years – Manheim Township – 55-32. Employing balanced scoring, some suffocating man-to-man defense and a dominance of the boards , Cedar Crest asserted itself in the middle of the second quarter and never looked back.
Preseason favorite Cedar Crest, which finished second to the Blue Streaks in both the section and the league last season, improved to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the section. Close losses to Hempfield and McCaskey has put the Falcons in the role of pursuers, two games behind the section co-leaders.
Manheim Township, which began the season with 64 straight league wins and four consecutive L-L Section One titles, slipped to 5-6 on the season and 3-3 in the section.
“Sure,” said Cedar Crest head coach Jim Donmoyer, when asked if his club can still win the section. “We have to win every game. If we win out, we’ll get in. Are we going to win out? We’ll see. We put some good games together in the Eastern York tournament. We can score. And we’re starting to click a little more.
“I told the kids, ‘maybe we don’t like to be the team being chased,'” added Donmoyer. “Everyone thought we were going to win it hands down. I knew we’d be in the mix.”
“Revenge,” said sophomore center Alyssa Austin of Cedar Crest’s motivation. “It felt good beating them after losing to them so many times.
“That’s (the section race) what’s next,” Austin added. “I think we were getting a little ahead of ourselves. (Against McCaskey and Hempfield) we weren’t playing as a team. We weren’t together.”
Cedar Crest put some distance between itself and the rebuilding Blue Streaks with unselfish team work in the second stanza.
The Falcons tallied the final hoop of the opening quarter on a steal and lay-in from Alex Rich, then recorded the first six points of the second period to open a 19-9 advantage. Austin knocked down four free throws and senior Maddie Rakow scored on the inside.
Then the Falcons registered the final seven points of the half to take a 31-14 bulge to the locker room. The open court play of emerging sophomore guard Ariel Jones accounted for five of those points, while Rakow banked in the other two.
“Since I’ve been here, we haven’t beaten them,” said Donmoyer of the Blue Streaks. “I guess it was important to get the Manheim Township monkey off our back. Every game for us now is big. We did what we had to do. Now we move on.
“It doesn’t matter that it was them (the Blue Streaks),” continued Donmoyer. “That’s how we have to play. We have to play lights out. I thought we were going to play well. We keep an eye on each other, we see each other’s scores and they (the Blue Streaks) lost to Lebanon twice. But we thought it would be closer than that.”
“We played good,” said Austin. “We got our team work back. We didn’t have that in our two big games (Hempfield, McCaskey). Coach had a talk with us and told us, ‘We have to play as a team and not as individuals.'”
Cedar Crest extended its margin to 44-18 with 2:57 left in the third quarter, on a foul shot by Nikki Wagner. A minute later the Falcons’ lead reached 47-20, courtesy of an Emi Wagner three-point field goal.
“Usually when we play them (the Blue Streaks) it’s a lot of fouls,” said Donmoyer. “‘Chippy’ I guess is a good word. I think the kids will have more confidence because of this. But they (the Blue Streaks) were really good in those four years.
“They’re (the Blue Streaks) doing what we did four years ago,” Donmoyer added. “They have a lot of freshmen and a lot of sophomores. It’s tough when you lose that many seniors. We have six seniors this year.”
Despite foul difficulties throughout, Cedar Crest’s scoring was led by Austin and her 12 points. But Rachel Miller, Jones, E. Wagner, N. Wagner and Rakow all scored between seven and nine points.
Defensively, Cedar Crest surrendered only seven total field goals. Offensively, the Falcons knocked down five three-pointers.
“Jones has started the last three games,” said Donmoyer. “She’s playing good. She’s a good defender. She gets to the basket. She can see the floor. And she’s super quick.
“For Rachel Miller, it was probably her best all-around game this season,” continued Donmoyer. “She hit some threes, and she’s a good defender too. We’re looking for the team work. We don’t have that 20-point scorer.”
“I thought I did alright,” said Austin. “The fouls get to you. It gets to your head. What you’ve got to do is just take deep breaths. When you have three fouls at halftime, you think about it instead of playing.”
Miller nailed back-to-back three-pointers in a 19-second span in the middle of the opening quarter to get the Falcons off and winging. The ‘quick six’ turned a modest 6-5 deficit into an 11-6 lead.
“It’s nice when you have the lead to sit her down,” said Donmoyer of Austin’s foul troubles. “Rakow came in and gave us quality minutes. We just decided to go one post and four guards instead of two posts. We’ve got depth. We have a lot of shooters, a lot of people. We’re scoring points against everyone.”
“At the beginning of the season, we were playing more with two posts,” said Austin. “Now we’re just playing with one post. I like playing the double post. But I feel like we’re doing better with one post at a time.”
Section One Standings
2014-15 Cedar Crest Girls’ Basketball 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|