Shaking off the pain of a recent elbow injury, Crest sophomore forward Alex Rich led the Falcon girls to a 39-38 come-from-behind victory that wasn't over until the Cedars' final shot.
"This really is a cool rivalry," said Lebanon coach Ben Brewer. "Coming over here on the bus tonight, my girls had butterflies. My one assistant coach, who's not from around here, played four years of high school and (NCAA) Division III ball. She said she's never really been a part of a rivalry like this."
Rich scored 13 of her team-high 15 points in the second half as Crest overcame an early 10-2 deficit that still stood at seven at halftime. Rich went to work in the lane in the second half after two Cedar starters, 6-foot-1 Madi Rakow and Alicia Haitos, were saddled with four fouls each.
The second half actually came down to a shootout between two talented sophomores, Rich and Lebanon point guard Brittany Ulrich, who finished with a game-high 18 points. Lebanon got the ball with four seconds left and Ulrich attempted a long-range jumper from 35 feet that came up short as time expired.
"What a great game," said Crest coach Jim Donmoyer, whose team moved to 2-3 overall. "I'm really proud of my girls. They hung together, fought hard and played as a team to the very end. We tend to start a little slow. I think in every game so far this year, we trailed at halftime. But tonight, we were only down by seven. It wasn't as if we were down by double figures. We didn't panic."
Crest also got a big game from sophomore guard Rachel Miller, who contributed eight timely points, all in the second half. It was Miller's 3-pointer with 6:30 left that gave the Falcons their first lead at 33-32. Miller was forced to step up her game after senior guard Maria Battle received her fourth foul with 4:52 left in the game.
With 1:45 left, Ulrich stole the ball at halfcourt and went the distance to keep the Cedars (2-4) within 37-36. But Rich answered with 59 seconds left for what proved to be the winning basket, despite the final-minute, last-ditch effort by the Cedars and Ulrich, who chased the ball all over the court.
"Fouls killed us," Brewer said. "Brittany had two fouls in the first three minutes of the game, which limited us early as to what we wanted to do defensively. And then when Haitos and Rakow both got their fourth fouls, we couldn't keep Rich from driving the lane."
Rich was doubtful until just before the game.
"She got hurt last Friday against Elizabethtown," Donmoyer said. "She didn't play Monday against Solanco and didn't even practice Tuesday."
"I wasn't cleared to play until (Wednesday)," Rich said. "I smacked my elbow on the floor against E-town and thought I broke something. But it was my left elbow, not my shooting arm. When they said I could play, I said, 'OK, let's go.'"
Lebanon also got 10 points from junior guard Lauren Chambers, but they all came in the first half. She only took a few shots after halftime.
"I'm not sure why Lauren didn't shoot more in the second half," Brewer said. "What hurt us was we didn't make many points inside. You can't rely on 3-point shots. I told the girls we're going to practice for two hours tomorrow on getting and making shots inside and also free throws."
Ulrich made 4-of-8 free throws, and Kiana Graves made 1-of-2 for the Cedars. Donmoyer's bench was also small, since the departure of Addy Toms.
"All I can tell you is Addy quit the team, and I'm not sure why," Donmoyer said. "She never really told me. But this was our second game without her and our girls really pulled together tonight. Solanco had a 6-3 girl who scored 32 against us to beat us, but I was really pleased with the effort and the heart our girls played with tonight."