LANCASTER — In a tough Section One where seemingly everyone has a shot, a few good shots at the end will go a long way.
On their heels after a difficult first-half, the McCaskey Red Tornado used a 17-6 game-ending run to close-out their contest versus Hempfield, dispatching the visiting Black Knights, 58-52, Friday night at McCaskey High School.
Junior forward Ahnera Parker led McCaskey (9-3 overall, 6-2 Section One) with a game-high 17 points, but eight fourth-quarter points, including a pair of 3-pointers, from senior Sylera Weller propelled the Tornado to victory.
“I’m just proud of Sylera because last year she struggled, she couldn’t get it a lot of the time,” said head coach Brian McCloud. “This year she’s ready. She worked hard all summer, worked on her shot and it’s paid off. Sometimes hard work pays off for you and I’m proud of her for that.”
Neither team led by more than five points until the final minute of play, when Weller’s trey from the corner and a heady bucket inside gave McCaskey a 56-49 lead. The game-winning run came after Hempfield took a 46-41 lead on Trinity Sumrall’s jumper with a little over five minutes to play.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game and I was just proud of how our girls rose to the occasion in the second half because I was a little concerned after the second quarter,” McCloud said. “They have to understand when you play teams that pass, move, and cut, that’s hard work.”
Hempfield (9-5, 5-3) took a 30-23 lead into halftime after a 16-9 second quarter that included three 3-pointers, two coming from team-high scorer Julianna Clark (16 points).
Also contributing for the Knights’ attack were Paige Diminick (10 points) and Anna Williams’ (9 points), the latter grabbing six first half rebounds as the two teams’ battled the boards all night long.
“I think we played up-tempo and we took good quality shots,” said Hempfield head coach Brian Rife of the first half. “Sometimes we have a tendency maybe to take some bad shots and that can hurt us at times.”
In all, McCaskey brought down 40 rebounds, either contributing a put-back opportunity or starting a fast break to Parker or Briana Perry. Parker and Perry grabbed eight boards apiece.
The Tornado did struggle at the free-throw line, making just 10 of 21 shots. But the tandem of Parker and Weller was too much for the Knights’ to overcome.
“They had some kids who made some tough perimeter shots,” Rife said. “Once they start doing that then they’re really tough to defend. You can’t help inside and guard on the perimeter, you have to pick your poison, so once they started making some perimeter shots that opened things up for them inside.”
Implying that the more McCaskey gets contributions from a variety of players, the better off the Tornado will be as the second half of the league season gets underway next week.
“It’s big because I think everybody is close (in the section),” McCloud said of Friday’s win. “Everybody is going to have a shot at this thing. You have to at least win your home court and whatever happens after that, happens.”
McCaskey 58, Hempfield 52
J. Clark 5 3-4 16, P. Diminick 4 0-0 10, A. Williams 3 2-3 9, T. Sumrall 4 1-4 9, K. Givler 1 1-2 3, M. Pohl 1 1-2 3, B. Byler 0 2-2 2, S. Helgeson 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 10-17 52.
A. Parker 5 7-9 17, S. Weller 5 0-1 12, P. Todd 5 1-5 11, B. Perry 3 0-2 6, S. Kemmerer 2 2-4 6, J. Short 2 0-0 4, A. Johnson 1 0-0 2, B. Smith-Jones 0 0-0 0, A. Cherry 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 10-21 58.
HEM _ 14 _ 16 _ 07 _ 15 _ — _ 52
JPM _ 14 _ 09 _ 15 _ 18 _ — _ 58
3-Point Goals — Hempfield 6 (Clark 3, Diminick 2, Williams 1), McCaskey 2 (Weller 2)
JV Score — McCaskey 28, Hempfield 17