The Falcons avenged their lone loss of the season on Wednesday night, clinching a tie for the Section One title with a 50-35 win over Manheim Township
Great teams can't afford to dwell on disappointing losses, but that doesn't mean they ever completely forget them.
And when the opportunity comes around to avenge a galling defeat, well, let's just say it usually doesn't get wasted.
The Cedar Crest girls basketball team certainly didn't waste theirs.
The Falcons suffered their only defeat of the season back on Dec. 23, a stinging, last-second 50-49 setback to Manheim Township. On Wednesday night, the opportunity for redemption came around and the Falcons were ready for it.
Behind a stifling second-half defensive effort and 36 combined points from catalysts Ariel Jones and Alyssa Austin, Cedar Crest gained both revenge and a share of the Section One title Wednesday with a 50-35 victory over Township at the Falcon Cage.
Crest (17-1, 13-1 Section One) didn't appear ready to redeem anything early, stumbling through a first quarter that ended with Township (12-7, 11-3) up 11-6.
But the Falcons found the range during an 18-point second quarter, then held the Blue Streaks to just 12 second-half points to win going away and grab a two-game lead in the section with two to play.
Crest can officially wrap up Section One with a win at Warwick tonight.
"We definitely circled this game. Trust me, it definitely meant a lot," said Cedar Crest coach Jim Donmoyer. "I told them, the way they felt that night, the way I felt, we don't want to feel that way again. That's the last thing I said in the huddle. They all looked at me, and you could tell they were invested, They were into this game, they wanted it. We didn't forget it."
As noted, though, it didn't look that way early. Township, which was led by 10 points apiece from Caitlin Hickey and Megan Baldassarre, was the aggressor and Crest did not immediately respond in kind, leading to the five-point deficit after one.
But in the second, the Falcons got rolling, outscoring the visitors 18-12 in the period and taking the lead for good at 15-14 on a Jones (20 points) free throw with 4:30 left in the half.
"We weren't really working together as well in the first half," said junior center Austin, who tallied 16 points and anchored the defense with seven blocked shots. "We talked a lot better (on defense) in the second half than we did in the first."
That was most apparent in the third quarter, as Township's only bucket came on a Hickey drive 44 seconds into the frame. An increased commitment to its man-to-man defense told the story for Crest, which closed the third on an 11-0 run started by a Jade Rolon 3-pointer and capped by a drive to the hoop for two by Caitlynn Albright. It was 37-25 heading into the fourth, where the Falcons didn't ease up on their defensive grip.
"It was great, the second half we just worked really well together," Austin said. "The switching and helping out in the lane was a lot better. I just think we played better man-to-man defense."
"We said at halftime, 'If we're gonna win the game it's gonna be on defense,'" Donmoyer said. "The third quarter, they had two points. In the first half, we monkeyed around with a 3-2 zone and a man-to-man, but at halftime I said 'No more 3-2, we're going man-to-man. Everybody know who you have and let's get after it.' And they did."
And because they did, that one blemish on their record is now barely noticeable and much more easily forgotten.
"It's been haunting us the whole season," Austin said. "It feels good to get it back."
Cedar Crest 50, Manheim Township 35
Manheim Township (35)
Laura Hinnenkamp 0 2-2 2, Olivia Matto 3 1-2 9, Caitlin Hickey 3 4-6 10, Caitlyn Newcomer 1 0-0 2, Megan Baldassarre 4 2-4 10, Mary Beitzel 1 0-0 2, Delaney McKnight 0 0-0 0, Eden Miller 0 0-2 0, Juliette Ramsey 0 0-0 0, Disha Kapur 0 0-0 0, Taylor Evans 0 0-0 0 Totals — 12 9-16 35
Cedar Crest (50)
Ariel Jones 7 6-8 20, Sage Bartal 0 0-0 0, Skyanne Yancey 0 0-0 0, Caitlynn Albright 2 0-0 4, Alyssa Austin 6 4-4 16, Jade Rolon 2 0-0 5, Gracen Donmoyer 1 0-0 3, Rachel Witherite 1 0-1 2, Kelsey Guth 0 0-0 0, Alaze Merkey 0 0-0 0 Totals — 19 10-13 50 .
Manheim Township _ 11 _ 12 _ 2 _ 10 _ — _ 35
Cedar Crest _ 6 _ 18 _ 13 _ 13 _ — _ 50
3-point goals — MT: Matto 2, CC: Rolon, Donmoyer
JV score — Manheim Township 26, Cedar Crest 23