BY JEFF FALK
HERSHEY – Today’s word of the day is ‘Uncharacteristic’. U-N-C-H-A-R-A-C-T-E-R-I-S-T-I-C.
Uncharacteristic, (un·char·ac·ter·is·tic), adj. 1. Opposite of characteristic 2. not typical or usual, adv. uncharacteristically
Used in a sentence: The Cedar Crest girls’ basketball team’s inability to handle the pressure defense was uncharacteristic. Or, The Falcons’ performance during crunch time was uncharacteristic.
On Tuesday night at Hershey’s Giant Center, Cedar Crest’s play down the stretch exemplified the word ‘uncharacteristic’ so much, it may have redefined it. The Falcons came undone during the game’s final 3:26 and suffered a 57-50 setback to Governor Mifflin, in a semifinal contest of the District Three Class AAAA playoffs.
During that fateful three-plus-minute stretch, Cedar Crest was outscored 15-0 by the Mustangs. Plagued by seven straight empty possessions, turnovers, poor defensive rebounding, a flagrant foul call and some questionable officiating, the Falcons watched helplessly as Governor Mifflin turned a 48-42 CC lead into a 57-48 advantage of its own, with 44 seconds remaining.
Rachel Witherite’s three-pointer with 4:10 to go had given the Falcons that six-point cushion.
“We had them for 30 minutes,” said Cedar Crest head coach Jim Donmoyer, dejectedly. “Then they go on a 15-0 run. I don’t feel like we lost. I feel like we gave it away. It’s one thing if they come out and beat us. I’m not saying they’re not good. And I’m not saying we didn’t play hard.
“No, I didn’t know we had seven empty possessions in-a-row,” continued Donmoyer. “It was so bang-bang. We couldn’t hold on to the ball. You’re going to have this in high school basketball. But that’s where it was won and lost.”
Cedar Crest’s second straight setback in the semifinals of the District Three Class AAAA postseason sent it to 22-4 overall and into Friday’s third-place game against fifth-seeded Harrisburg, at a site and time to be determined. The sixth-seeded Falcons have already qualified for next week’s start of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs.
Governor Mifflin, the number-two seed, reached 27-1 and Friday’s 8:30 p.m. district final, opposite Cumberland Valley, back at Giant Center.
“They (the Mustangs) press and do it well, but we handled it for 29 minutes,” said Donmoyer. “I don’t know why things were different. Nothing. I don’t know if we did anything well, outside of throw the ball away.
“You want to win it,” Donmoyer continued. “We beat McCaskey (in the opening round). We beat a good Red Lion team (in the quarterfinals). This would’ve been a great win for us. There’s no consolation prize. You want to win the tournament. But it’s a great accomplishment to get to this point.”
What made it hurt even more for the Falcons was that up until that point they had played well enough to win.
The Falcons opened the final quarter with a two-point edge, and then five straight points to push their lead to 45-38. Hot-shooting Sykanne Yancey drilled a three-point ahead of Alyssa Austin’s stick-back.
“We played a good game, up until three minutes to go,” said Donmoyer. “But if you can’t get the ball past half-court in seven trips, it’s going to be a problem. We played them fine defensively. At the end, they turned us over and made lay-ups and foul shots.
“We played well enough to win,” added Donmoyer. It was 48-42, and they went on that run. It happened so fast.”
The Falcons trailed by as many as five points in the third period. But thanks to a pair of treys from Yancey, a drive by Caitlynn Albright and charity tosses from Ariel Jones and Albright, Cedar Crest pieced together a 10-1 run to assume a 38-34 spread with 3:39 left in the period.
“I told the kids at halftime, ‘Defense is going to win the game’,” said Donmoyer. “They (the Mustangs) didn’t score much in the third quarter. The last three minutes cost us the game. We were OK till then.”
The one-two punch of Austin and Jones shared the Falcons’ scoring honors with 15 points apiece, while Austin contributed a ton of blocks. Yancey knocked down a total of four three-point field goals and finished with 12 points.
Cedar Crest was guilty of a total of 23 turnovers, ten of which occurred in the final stanza.
“It’s tough,” said Donmoyer. “We have at least two more games. We play Harrisburg in a seeding game on Friday. I don’t know if there’s a big difference between third place and fourth place. It’s just deflating. It’s not like coming up here and playing Cumberland Valley on Friday.”
A put-back by Austin five minutes in provided the Falcons with an 11-8 cushion. But the Falcons encountered difficulties with Governor Mifflin’s full-court press over the next three minutes, and the Mustangs notched eight straight to grab a 16-11 advantage.
Cedar Crest did figure out some things about the Mustang’s pressure after that – that is until the fateful final three minutes.
“It wasn’t as blatant as the fourth quarter,” said Donmoyer of the Falcons’ early woes against the press. “It doesn’t stick out to me.”
Back-to-back three-pointers from Jones sent the Falcons off on a 10-0, second-quarter burst that gave them a 21-16 lead. Then 2:09 before the break, Austin drained a three-pointer to put Cedar Crest up 26-23.
But Governor Mifflin ended the half on an 8-2 spurt, and led 31-28 in the locker room.
“We had a great season,” said Donmoyer, “and it’s not over. We did some good things this season. All in all, tonight is frustrating. But the sun will come up tomorrow.”
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2015-16 Cedar Crest Girls’ Basketball Schedule
|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|