LANDISVILLE — Having led section co-leader Manheim Township all game long until there was just 4:30 left to play, the Hempfield Lady Knights found themselves in a do or die situation.
But in a season that has included a handful of hard-to-swallow losses, the Hempfield Lady Knights demonstrated both verve and poise Tuesday night as they prevailed over the visiting Blue Streaks, 45-39, to tighten the Section One race with four games to play.
“Good teams always make a run,” said junior Julianna Clark, whose go-ahead layup broke a 39-all tie. “There’s always a run at some point in the game so you have to find a way to stick through it, stick together, take good shots, value every single possession. We found a way to figure it out and get through it.”
Clark’s team-high 17 points matched Township forward Megan Baldassarre for game-high honors, Baldassarre scoring 13 second-half points including back-to-back buckets inside to take Township’s lone lead of the game at 38-37.
But unlike games earlier in the season, including a December loss at Manheim Township (11-6, 10-2), Hempfield (13-5 overall, 9-3 Section One) was able to come out on top.
“I would say in the third quarter we got a little frantic,” said Hempfield head coach Brian Rife, referencing Township’s success in the post. “But the fourth quarter I think the kids played very composed. Instead of relying on us to tell them what to do, they just kind of played the game.”
Senior forward Kylie Givler led the interior defense with ten rebounds and two blocked shots, also contributing six points. Meanwhile, sophomore point guard Trinity Sumrall tallied all ten of her points in the second half, including a pair of clutch free-throws to expand the lead, after having been challenged at halftime.
“She needed to come out and say forget about the first half,” Rife said. “ ‘It wasn’t the greatest first half for you but we’re up, let’s focus on that, and I know you’re capable of doing more for us,’ and she really stepped up huge there in the second half.”
Hempfield burst out of the gate on both offense and defense, using a press defense to force six first-quarter turnovers while Clark and Paige Diminick (11 points) combined for four first-half 3-pointers.
Despite Township sophomore Olivia Matto’s 3-pointer that narrowed Hempfield’s lead to just 21-17 at the half, that early barrage helped the Knights dictate down the stretch.
“They were closing out harder and trying to get out because we were knocking them down early,” Clark said of the three-ball. “That definitely helps to open up the lane and get opportunities to get inside.”
Ultimately, both Rife and Clark acknowledged how Tuesday’s win can help the Knights’ as the season winds down, although a rematch versus Section One leader Cedar Crest (11-1) looms Friday.
“We had the lead in the fourth quarter in a lot of them (losses to Section One teams) but just couldn’t pull it out so this is huge for us,” Clark said. “It’s pretty good going into Friday feeling like this, knowing we can beat the good teams and compete.”
Hempfield 45, Manheim Township 39
Manheim Township (39)
M. Baldassarre 8 1-2 17, C. Newcomer 5 0-0 10, O. Matto 3 0-0 8, C. Hickey 2 0-0 4, M. Beitzel 0 0-0 0, L. Hinnenkamp 0 0-0 0, D. McKnight 0 0-0 0, K. Moore 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 1-2 39.
J. Clark 6 2-2 17, P. Diminick 4 1-1 11, T. Sumrall 4 2-3 10, K. Givler 3 0-0 6, A. Williams 0 1-2 1, 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 17 6-8 45.
MT _ 06 _ 11 _ 15 _ 07 _ — _ 39
HM _ 13 _ 08 _ 14 _ 10 _ — _ 45
3-Point Goals — MT 2 (O. Matto 2); HEM 5 (J. Clark 3, P. Diminick 2)
JV Score — Manheim Township 26, Hempfield 16