BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – It’s a term which actually originated from the game of basketball, and it came to affectionately refer to the closing minutes of a game whose outcome has already been decided. But when you’re as good and deep and talented as the Cedar Crest girls, and playing opportunities are at a premium, there really is no such thing as ‘garbage time’.
On Wednesday Night at CCHS’ Cage’, there were some pretty good players on the floor during the final moments of the Falcons’ 45-19 blitzing of Conestoga Valley. But at the same time, there were some pretty good ones watching from the bench as well.
The Cedar Crest players who were on the court during the end of the game – many of whom were just starters getting their turn in the Falcons’ nine-person rotation- keyed the 11-0 exclamation point placed on the Lancaster-Lebanon Section One-Two crossover victory. While the Falcons’ team defense was shutting out Conestoga Valley over the final 5:08 of the fourth period, Madison Rakow, Alyssa Austin, Rachel Miller and Makaley Ruhl were taking care of the scoring.
But it was a 15-4 start to the contest that was more responsible for the Falcons’ fourth straight triumph, one which bumped their overall record to 4-1 and their Section One mark to 3-0. The result dropped Conestoga Valley to 2-4 on the year and 0-3 in Section Two of the L-L.
“I can tell you I don’t sit there and say people are going to get certain minutes,” said Cedar Crest head coach Jim Donmoyer. “It’s a feel for the game. Obviously, I know from game to game if people aren’t getting their time. As a coach, you always worry a little about getting playing time, being happy, being productive, feeling a part of the team. I was running in nine players today. As long as the kids buy into it, it works. On any given day, someone is going to lead us in scoring. It’s going to be someone different a lot of the times. You’ve got to accept it. You’ve got to be mature about it.
“The bottom line was, when we subbed in the third quarter, we had four bench players on the floor with one starter,” continued Donmoyer. “It was just the flow of the game. But I don’t want to get to the point where my bench is playing more minutes than the starters. It’s tough to juggle.”
The Falcons were just as fresh at the beginning as they were at the end.
Cedar Crest parlayed a little full court pressure defense and some balanced scoring into an early 15-4 bulge. Senior point guard Nikki Wagner tallied six of those first-quarter points.
“We played bad,” said Donmoyer. “We probably played our worst game of the year. Overall, we played in spurts. As we go along, playing in spurts isn’t going to be good enough.
“I look at energy level and effort,” added Donmoyer. “You can just tell if someone is ready to go. Tonight, for the most part, we weren’t ready to go. In the second quarter, we fell asleep. It’s about winning, but it’s also about developing a bench. That was part of the problem.”
The Buckskins did close to within seven points of the lead early in the second quarter. That was before Cedar Crest began pounding the ball inside to Austin for six straight point while holding CV scoreless for a four-minute span, a turn of events which produced a 21-8 advantage.
Still, Donmoyer was not pleased with the 21-11 margin his club enjoyed in the locker room,
“It is hard to keep focused,” said Donmoyer of the ease to which the Falcons opened their double-digit lead. “The second quarter got away from us. Maybe I should’ve taken a timeout. But I let them play through it. We had a good discussion at halftime about effort. Part of that is me too, keeping their attention on the game.
“A win is a win,” added Donmoyer. “I don’t care how much we win by. The score does not matter.”
The Falcons did a good job of establishing and feeding the post all evening. N. Wagner notched a game-high 14 points, the emerging Austin struck for a dozen points and Rakow counted eight inside.
While going nine-for-ten at the charity stripe, Cedar Crest was holding the Buckskins to a total of five field goals.
“Defensively, in the first half, we pressured them with a full court zone,” said Donmoyer. “In the second half, we went man-to-man full court and tried to turn them over out of that. For the most part, in the third quarter, we did a good job in full court man. But I don’t think we pressed a lot in the second quarter or the fourth quarter. But that keeps the girls into it too.
“That’s the other part of it,” added Donmoyer. “You know about the post players we have, but someone’s got to get them the ball. That’s part of being a team.”
Competing with a greater sense of urgency, Cedar Crest tallied the first seven points of the second half. N. Wagner canned a trio of free throws, sophomore Ariel Jones dropped in a ‘stop-and-pop’ and Austin stuck back an offensive rebound to make it 28-11 Falcons.
“We were pressing. We were turning them over. We were making shots,” said Donmoyer of Crest’s 15-4 beginning. “I’d say in the first quarter, we played really well, and in the third quarter. I like to start off both halfs strong. But we lost the second quarter. How can I be happy about that?
“We played better in the second half,” Donmoyer continued. “We started off 15-4 and then fell asleep. I wasn’t feeling the lull and drop off like I was in the second quarter.”
The Falcons will continue the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule on Friday when they travel to McCaskey, before returning home for an important Tuesday date with Hempfield.
“I think time will tell how good we can be,” said Donmoyer. “We’re happy to be 4-1 and to have won four straight. We’re making improvements. We’re going in the right direction. We don’t want to peak now, but we’re winning games. We’re not as good as we can be. We’re not where we want to be, after five games. Hopefully we improve, and keep on keeping on.”
Conestoga Valley (19)
Section One Standings
Section Two Standings