En route to another Section One title this regular season, the Cedar Crest girls basketball team watched very few of its games veer off script and even fewer go into the loss column.
The Falcons' first venture into postseason play Monday stayed right on course.
Fueled by a hot shooting start, Cedar Crest controlled play at home in an Lancaster-Lebanon League tournament quarterfinal against Section Three runner-up Cocalico to the tune of a 51-35 win. The Falcons (20-2) staked themselves to a 13-point lead after the first quarter, before engaging in largely even play through the final buzzer. Cedar Crest junior Ariel Jones notched a game-high 16 points, boosted by a perfect showing at the foul line.
The Eagles (18-5) allocated two to three defenders to the post upon every pass to Falcons center Alyssa Austin, who remains 11 points shy of 1,000 for her career after an eight-point effort Monday. Consequently, Cedar Crest shooters, such as senior Sky Yancey, found themselves open for five 3s in the opening half alone.
"Coach always says that when they're on Alyssa, you need to be ready to shoot right away," Yancey said. "And we know that everyone's going to go on Alyssa, so we came out ready to shoot."
The Falcons now await a highly-anticipated clash against fellow league favorite Lancaster Catholic on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Warwick.
"It'll be interesting," Cedar Crest coach Jim Donmoyer said meeting the Crusaders. "They press, we press. They shoot and we shoot it. A lot of people said this should be the finals matchup. We know enough about them that there won't be any surprises. And I'm sure we're not going to surprise them, so it'll come down to who executes."
Had it not been for the Falcons' early execution, Monday's finish likely would've unfolded with a surprising closeness. But Cocalico never climbed to within fewer than nine after the first quarter, despite 7-0 and 7-2 runs that opened the third and fourth, respectively. The Eagles' demise, according to coach Tony DiMatteo, was their own doing.
"(It was) too many turnovers and not enough field goals early on that let them build that lead," DiMatteo said. "And it's hard to come back against a team like that."
Particularly hard when Jones proves unrelenting at the charity stripe, which Cocalico got to only three times all night. Meanwhile, she and Austin enjoyed plenty of support, most notably after the Eagles cut their 31-15 halftime deficit to within three possessions at the 5:19 mark of the third quarter. Senior Caitlyn Albright then followed with a put-back and Gracen Donmoyer punctuated the Cedar Crest response by canning an open trey from the right wing.
"Everybody that stepped up to shoot just seemed to hit them. That's what it was about," Donmoyer said. "You're always worried about the start, but once we got the start, we played them even in the second and third and then we're up 15 going into the last quarter."
Later, Austin and Jones each drained a pair of baskets at the end of the fourth to seal their first playoff win of their 2015-16 campaign.
Cedar Crest 51, Cocalico 35
Sophie Benson 0 0-0 0, Maddie Bock 0 0-0 0, Katie DiCiano 1 0-0 2, Lyndsay Engle 3 0-0 6, Emily Fassnacht 4 0-0 10, Olivia Fassnacht 0 0-0 0, Megan Gingrich 4 2-3 10, Samantha Klumpp 0 0-0 0, Jasa Lorah 1 0-0 2, Adrienne Peters 0 0-0 0, Emily White 2 1-2 5. Totals — 15 3-5 35.
Cedar Crest (51)
Caitlynn Albright 3 0-3 6, Alyssa Austin 3 2-4 8, Sage Bartal 0 0-0 0, Gracen Donmoyer 3 0-0 7, Kelsey Guth 0 0-0 0, Ariel Jones 3 8-8 16, Alaze Merkey 0 0-0 0, Raven Morgan 1 1-2 3, Jade Rolon 0-0 0, Rachel Witherite 2 0-0 5, Sky Yancey 2 0-0 2. Totals — 17 11-17 51.
Cocalico_ 7_ 9_ 8_ 11 _ — _ 35
Cedar Crest_ 20_ 11 _ 8_ 12 — _ 51
3-point goals — Coc 2 (Fassnacht), CC 5 (Yancey 2, Jones 2, Witherite)