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IMG_4670BY JEFF FALK

LEBANON – It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

To be honest, no one was quite sure what the end might look like. But no one could’ve envisioned or imagined it this way.

Exit strategies are rarely given that type of consideration.

On Friday night at Lebanon High School, Cedar Crest’s splendid girls’ basketball season came to a screeching halt with a lopsided 53-34 loss to North Penn, in the opening round of the inaugural PIAA Class AAAAAA postseason. Big, strong and physical, the Knights led most of the way and opened a double-digit lead in the middle of the third quarter.

The setback ended the Falcons’ memorable and incredible year at 27-2. Cedar Crest, the reigning Lancaster-Lebanon League and Section Three champions, dropped two of its final three outings after opening the season with 26 consecutive victories.

IMG_4763This particular group was responsible for a pair of L-L league crowns, a couple of section titles and three straight appearances in the District Three semifinals. But the Falcons, the third-place finisher out of District Three, did not fare as well in the state playoffs during that time.

North Penn, the fifth-place finisher out of District One,improved to 24-4.

Cedar Crest’s total of 34 points was its lowest output of the year.

“We lose 2500 (career points),” said Cedar Crest head coach Jim Donmoyer of the impending graduation of seniors Ariel Jones and Alyssa Austin. “We lose the best player (Jones) I ever coached . We lose a player who, when she goes into the post, dominates. This has been a dream come true. I’m proud as (heck) of these kids. They work together. They get along, on the court and off the court.

“It’s a long season. It’s a grind,” continued Donmoyer. “It was a fulfilling season. It was the most wins we’ve had since I’ve been here. Right now, you don’t appreciate it. But when I come to the gym next season, that’s when it’s really going to set in. ‘Where’s the big girl?’ ‘Where’s Ariel?’.”

IMG_4686The Falcons’ forte certainly hasn’t been playing from behind. But they were most effective at it during the second quarter.

Staring down a 22-15 deficit late in the first half, Cedar Crest tallied five unanswered points to close to within a deuce by the break. Jones scored on a driving lay-in and junior Rachel Witherite nailed a three-pointer, and it appeared Cedar Crest had momentum going into the locker room.

“I thought the first half was very competitive,” said Donmoyer. “That’s the way we normally play. But they (the Knights) came out in the second half and played well, and we didn’t. Credit to them. They out hustled us in the second half. We could play with them for a half. But we couldn’t do it for a whole game.

“They’re (the Knights) legit,” Donmoyer added. “That’s a (heck) of a first-round state game for a three-seed to play. They were number one in District One for a reason. They must be pretty good down there.”

The outcome was decided in the third quarter, when the Knights outscored the Falcons 21-8.

IMG_4770Two offensive-rebound heavy possessions by North Penn to open the second half sparked a 10-2 run that gave the Knights a 32-22 advantage. Then with it converting Falcon turnovers into points, North Penn hit Cedar Crest with a 9-2 burst that gave it a 43-28 advantage.

It was at that point that the Falcons’ exhibited the type of body language that suggested it would have a difficult time coming back again.

“Obviously we scouted them (the Knights),” said Donmoyer. “We saw plenty of film on them. Just from the standpoint of their physicality, we haven’t played against that kind of size all year. Not only were they big, they were physical. That was the best team we played all year. We played them even in the first half. They didn’t have a kid under 5-9. But there’s no doubt we can play at this level.

“To be honest, going into leagues (playoffs) all three games were closer than our regular-season games,” added Donmoyer. “I think the competition had one thing to do with it. The competition obviously got better.”

Jones paced Cedar Crest with 15 points, but Austin was held to season-low four points. By overplaying everything, flashing into passing lanes and double-teaming the ball, North Penn limited Cedar Crest to four three-pointers, nine two-point field goals and four-for-five foul shooting.

By contrast, the Knights tallied a total of 21 field goals and did a good job on the boards.

IMG_4767“They were playing man-to-man and switching well,” said Donmoyer of the Knights. “In the second half, we said we were going to spread the floor out. But we threw the ball away quite a few times in the second half. If you’re going to score 14 points in the second half, you better play defense and not turn the ball over.

“We stood around,” continued Donmoyer. “If you know they’re going to try to do something, then you’ve got to try something else. People weren’t cutting. People weren’t screening. Ariel worked hard for her 15 points. It was no fault of her’s.”

Austin scored on a stick-back to open the final period and pull the Falcons to within 43-30 of the lead. But Cedar Crest went without a point over the next 4:47, during which time North Penn extended its advantage to 21 points.

“We’ve got to get inside,” said Donmoyer. “I understand she (Ausin) has 39 threes. But our only size is her and Raven (Morgan). We’ve got to at least go inside and play. If we miss, we have no one inside for rebounds. I don’t know what they (the Knights) did special. She had four points.”

The Falcons led twice all night – 2-0 on a lay-in from Austin and 10-8 on a drive by Jones.

“I just talked about the season in general,” said Donmoyer of his final post-game address. “I told them (his players) I’m proud of them. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We enjoyed the run while it lasted.

“The kids had a great regular season,” Donmoyer added. “This group of kids accomplished a lot. This year we qualified for our fifth district postseason in-a-row and made states for the third year in-a-row. If you would’ve asked me at the beginning of the season if we’d be 27-2, I would’ve said, ‘No’. I couldn’t be more proud of the kids. Twenty-seven and two is nothing to sneeze at.”

 

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 To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

 

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 IMG_47102016-17 Cedar Crest Girls’ Basketball Results

Date Teams Score  
12/09
6:00 pm
East Pennsboro
Cedar Crest
at Cedar Cliff
44
61
12/10
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Cedar Cliff
55
43
12/13
7:30 pm
Wilson
at Cedar Crest
48
66
12/16
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at McCaskey
63
47
12/19
7:30 pm
Warwick
at Cedar Crest
47
65
12/21
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Conestoga Valley
41
27
12/28
6:00 pm
South Western
Cedar Crest
at York Suburban
34
52
12/29
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at York Suburban
42
26
1/03
7:30 pm
Manheim Township
at Cedar Crest
47
66
1/06
7:30 pm
Hempfield
at Cedar Crest
40
54
1/09
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Cedar Crest
21
55
1/10
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Penn Manor
69
44
1/13
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Elizabethtown
59
33
1/17
7:30 pm
McCaskey
at Cedar Crest
42
62
1/20
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Warwick
51
28
1/21
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Palmyra
51
28
1/24
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Conestoga Valley
57
27
1/27
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Manheim Township
59
41
1/31
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Hempfield
53
44
2/02
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Cocalico
57
37
2/03
7:30 pm
Penn Manor
at Cedar Crest
30
50
2/07
7:30 pm
Elizabethtown
at Cedar Crest
27
53
2/11
7:00 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Cedar Crest
54
63
2/14
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
Cedar Crest
at Lebanon
40
49
2/16
7:00 pm
McCaskey
Cedar Crest
at Manheim Township
43
49
2/23
7:00 pm
McCaskey
at Cedar Crest
38
47
2/28
5:00 pm
Central Dauphin
Cedar Crest
at Giant Center
42
38
3/02
8:00 pm
Central York
Cedar Crest
at Manheim Township
41
48
3/10
6:30 pm
North Penn
Cedar Crest
at Lebanon
 

 

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