For the Cedar Crest girls basketball team, this week was thanks, but no thanks.
Following Hempfield's upset of Manheim Twp. on Tuesday—which helped Cedar Crest to an outright Section One lead—the Falcons turned away the visiting Knights Thursday evening, 45-32, to maintain a one-game edge with three section games to play.
“It was one of those bangin’, back-and-forth kind of games,” Cedar Crest coach Jim Donmoyer said. “Wasn’t a lot of scoring during the game, but the kids played tough defense.”
A 9-4 run by Hempfield out of halftime erased memories of the Falcons’ 17-11 first-half lead. But two steals by point guard Ariel Jones then led to easy fast-break layups to retake command.
Jones tallied 10 of her game-high 22 points in the third quarter before the Falcons pulled away with a 16-9 fourth.
“Ariel did what she does,” Donmoyer said. “When it was 21-20, I was nervous. We made the run, we got it to the point where there was breathing room again. I told them at the end just foul shots and layups. They weren’t going to catch us if we did that.”
Thursday’s season-low output was a direct result of Hempfield’s defense and a far cry from the teams' first meeting that saw Cedar Crest (16-1, 12-1 Section One) pull out an overtime victory.
“What a difference,” Knights coach Brian Rife said. “We played them the first time and it was 49-49 at the end of four quarters, went to overtime. Tonight, you saw the halftime score. We picked it up a little bit offensively in the second half, but once we got to the fourth quarter … they knew how to take care of the basketball.”
Hempfield (9-4, 13-6) led by two after the first quarter, but Cedar Crest answered with an 11-0 run, as Rachel Witherite came off the bench for a pair of jumpers from the wing.
“We have some kids that come off the bench and give us a spark. (Witherite) was one of them that gave us a spark tonight, for sure,” Donmoyer said. “When she came in the game I had her on (center Alyssa Austin’s) side. You’re either going to come out and play her or … she’s going to dump it inside.”
Both Witherite jumpers came on ball-screens from Austin, who finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds despite facing double and triple-teams throughout the game.
“I told the girls after the game defensively I was really pleased with our effort. We did a great job holding them to 45 points,” Rife said. “We just couldn’t throw it into the ocean tonight, unfortunately.”
Julianna Clark’s steal and layup near the end of the first half were the only points for the Knights in the second quarter outside a trio of free throws.
Clark and sophomore Trinity Sumrall led the Knights with nine points apiece, as Hempfield finished with five triples after shooting 0-for-6 beyond the arc in the first half.
“They weren’t shy about it. It just didn’t go their way as far as shots falling,” Donmoyer said. “They did us a favor on Tuesday. They’re not out of it by any means. We still have three games in the section, so nothing is guaranteed for us either. We have to keep playing hard and things will work out.”
Cedar Crest 45, Hempfield 32
Cedar Crest (45)
A. Jones 8 5-6 22, A. Austin 5 3-3 13, R. Witherite 2 0-0 5, C. Albright 2 0-0 4, S. Yancey 0 1-5 1, S. Bartal 0 0-0 0, J. Rolon 0 0-0 0, G. Donmoyer 0 0-0 0, A. Merkey 0 0-0 0, K. Guth 0 0-0 0, R. Morgan 0 0-0 0. Totals — 17 9-14 45
T. Sumrall 3 1-4 9, J. Clark 2 4-5 9, P. Diminick 2 0-0 6, K. Givler 2 0-0 4, A. Williams 2 0-2 4, S. Helgeson 0 0-0 0, B. Byler 0 0-0 0, K. Martinez 0 0-0 0, M. Pohl 0 0-0 0. Totals —11 5-11 32.
Cedar Crest _ 06 _ 13 _ 12 _ 16 _ — _ 45
Hempfield _ 04 _ 05 _ 12 _ 09 _ — _ 32
3-point goals — Hempfield 5 (Sumrall 2, Diminick 2, Clark); Cedar Crest 2 (Jones, Witherite).
JV score — Cedar Crest 23, Hempfield 12.