Lebanon Catholic s Helene Reist heads up the court with Alex Siebecker of Annville-Cleona in hot pursuit on Monday night. Playing with an intensity and
Lebanon Catholic s Helene Reist heads up the court with Alex Siebecker of Annville-Cleona in hot pursuit on Monday night. Playing with an intensity and spirit they had been lacking earlier in the season, Reist and the Beavers scored a key 47-42 win over their county rival in the first game of a girls -boys doubleheader at Annville-Cleona High School. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS EARL BRIGHTBILL)
ANNVILLE - After a not-so-happy holiday season, the Lebanon Catholic girls' basketball team didn't exactly appear to be poised to approach 2013 with vim and vigor.

Then again, you know what they say about appearances: They can be deceiving sometimes.

And the Beavers certainly had local hoops observers fooled after a sluggish - some might even say, listless - performance in the Lebanon High Holiday Tournament. In short, they seemed to regard the tasks at hand with a degree of excitement comparable to an impending root canal.

County rival Annville-Cleona would have loved to have been playing that team on Monday night.

Catholic continued to make over its on-court demeanor Monday, using a warrior-like performance from senior forward Abby Shay as the impetus for a gut-check 47-42 win over A-C in the first game of a girls'-boys' doubleheader in front of a spirited crowd at Annville-Cleona High School.

Now 7-5 overall and 3-4 in Section Four, the Beavers needed Monday's win desperately for many reasons, including to stay in the battle for second place in the section and the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoff spot that ultimately goes with it.

But above all else, Catholic needed to show toughness, intensity and enthusiasm in a big game - really, in any game - against a quality opponent.

Mission accomplished, and then some.

"In the Lebanon tournament, a reporter called us listless," said senior forward Shay, who poured in a game-high 19 points on the strength of clutch 15-for-17 foul shooting. "And we really focused on that word. Every practice we're like, 'We're not gonna be listless.' Everyone just wants to up the intensity so we're not looked at like that again. That's not how we can play. We can play a lot better."

The Beavers proved that fact against an A-C team (6-5, 4-3) that could have put itself in the driver's seat for the L-L playoffs with a win, which would have given it a three-game second-place cushion over Catholic and Columbia.

Instead, the Beavers were the ones who looked like they were playing for that seat thanks to the following factors:

  • Shay got to the line at will, playing with an aggressiveness and a desire that A-C could not contain while curing free-throw shooting woes that had plagued her over the holidays.

  • Fellow senior forward Holly Marinkov came up huge with four 3-point buckets and 13 points, senior center Catherine Gross chipped in with all seven of her points in the second half, and junior point guard Helene Reist ran the show with poise and intelligence while also canning two second-half treys of her own.
    Annville-Cleona s Kayla Parks drives to the basket against the defense of Lebanon Catholic s Samantha Fortna on Monday night. Parks dropped in a team-high
    Annville-Cleona s Kayla Parks drives to the basket against the defense of Lebanon Catholic s Samantha Fortna on Monday night. Parks dropped in a team-high 15 points, but it wasn t enough to keep A-C from a 47-42 defeat. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS EARL BRIGHTBILL)

  • And defensively, Catholic made A-C uncomfortable throughout with both zone and man-to-man looks that only junior guard Kayla Parks (15 points) solved with any consistency.

    "I said, 'You know, this (a win) could really bump us up," said A-C's Jaime Walborn of her pregame words to her club regarding the importance of Monday's game. "We're still working on them getting that winning attitude. Like, 'Oh, we are a good team.' We looked petrified tonight."

    Shay no doubt had a good deal to do with that, given her domination of the paint. Though she managed just two field goals, Shay's level of activity inside gave A-C little choice but to foul her and send her to the line to earn her points.

    It wasn't a bad idea to do so, given Shay's previous struggles at the stripe. But, well, it didn't work out so well.

    "We have been working very hard with Abby Shay on her foul shot," LC coach Patti Hower said. "That was the key. We felt we needed to get her the ball, I felt she could do things inside. She took advantage of the opportunities when she got them and got to the foul line. Hopefully she reaps the benefits of having a good foul-shooting night."

    With Shay hitting on 6-of-7 attempts from the line and dropping in 10 of her 19 points, Catholic overcame 14 first-half turnovers to build a slim 18-17 halftime lead.

    A-C hung in with balanced scoring that included five points from Elaina Wanamaker and four apiece from Parks and Alex Siebecker but squandered a chance to assert itself by turning the ball over too much itself.

    "Because we would go down and turn it right back over," Walborn said of A-C's inability to capitalize on Catholic's turnovers. "I think in the one sequence in the first half we turned it over four straight times, and they turned it over three times. So it was like seven straight turnovers from both teams.

    "And when we got turnovers, we didn't do a good job of pushing the ball and beating them up the floor."

    Still, A-C was right there after three quarters, down just 31-29 thanks to eight third-quarter points from Parks.

    But Marinkov buried her fourth "3" 25 seconds into the fourth, Shay nailed 1 of 2 at the line, and Gross added a bucket off a feed from Marinkov to stretch the lead to 37-29 with 6:41 left.

    To its credit, A-C didn't go away and rallied back to within 43-42 on Parks' final points of the night with 1:10 to go.

    But Shay put it away from there, nailing four straight charity tosses in the final 52 seconds while also coming up with a big steal and rebound in the last minute.

    You know, the stuff that hard-nosed players on hard-nosed teams always seem to do.

    "I think that comes from winning a couple games," Hower said of the turnaround in the Beavers' approach to the game. "But we've talked about it, I've told them people in the stands, reporters, notice your mopiness and lack of energy. I think they're a little more conscious of that."

    Monday's performance shows they're also a little more conscious of the benefits of a more energetic, aggressive approach and what it could mean to the rest of their season.

    "That's what we're all striving for," Shay said to the notion that Monday's win could key a second-half surge from Catholic. "We're hoping that this is the time of the season where everything's gonna turn around. We're gonna be more positive, we're gonna play harder and we're gonna play like we can."