NEW KINGSTOWN - After Palmyra valiantly defeated York last week in a play-in to get into the District Three Basketball Tournament, it faced the harsh reality Tuesday night that No. 1 seed Cumberland Valley was ready and waiting.
The Eagles employed a devastating full-court press during the second and third quarters that unnerved the Cougars and paved the way for a convincing 61-31 win in a girls' AAAA opening-round game.
Cumberland Valley (21-3) advances to this weekend's quarterfinal round. Palmyra, the No. 17 seed, ends its season at 13-10.
While the Cougars were bothered by the Eagles' pressure defense, they also had to go up against one of the best players in District Three, the Eagles' six-foot star, Kelly Jekot, who poured in a game-high 19 points. The Villanova recruit dazzled when it counted most. She scored 10 of her team's 16 points in the third quarter as the Eagles put the game away.
Jekot's steal of a Cougars' inbounds pass under the basket and her subsequent layup gave the Eagles a 42-17 lead about midway through the quarter.
The Eagles' press resulted in four steals in the third quarter alone.
Jekot finished the game with 1,969 career points and, considering the Eagles are guaranteed two more games, she has a good shot at hitting the coveted 2,000-point mark.
Jekot was equally skilled at handling the ball in the backcourt or posting down low -- which proved a real dilemma for the Cougars.
But try the Cougars did. Coach Ron Berman's crew played a tough opening quarter. They actually controlled the boards for most of the quarter, with Cougar seniors Molly Gundermann and Josie Stovall, both 5-foot-10, outrebounding the Eagles.
Gundermann and Stovall were doing a nice job on both the offensive and defensive boards. But the Cougars wasted those rebounds by shooting poorly.
The Cougars only hit two shots in the opening period; they didn't score until Stovall drained a "three" over 3 1/2 minutes into the game. Gundermann also hit a jumper, and the Eagles led 10-5 after the quarter.
Stovall had nine points, and Gundermann added six in their final high-school game.
The Eagles went to their full-court press early in the second quarter, and it paid quick dividends. Jekot's little sister, junior Katie Jekot, opened the quarter with a three-pointer. Moments later, Morgan Baughman scored on a layup after a Kelly Jekot steal, and Katie Jekot got into the act with a steal and layup to put the Eagles up 17-5.
The Eagles stretched the lead to 30-10 before the Cougars' Kailey Werkheiser scored the last five points of the half to make it 30-15. The Cougars never got closer.
Katie Jekot finished with 16 points for the Eagles, including four three-pointers.
Cumberland Valley 61, Palmyra 31
Amelia Baldo 0 2-2 2, Hannah McLucas 0 1-2 1, Jacy Carmenatty 0 0-0 0, Hayley Schultz 0 0-0 0, Kailey Werkheiser 2 0-0 5, Molly Gundermann 2 2-2 6, Josie Stovall 2 3-4 9, Chloe Robinson 0 0-0 0, Mara Bowman 1 0-0 2, Sara Boyer 1 0-0 3, Shannon Carmo 0 0-0 0, Olivia Richardson 0 0-0 0, Kayley McIntyre 1 0-0 3, Camdin Carpenter 0 0-0 0. . Totals — 9 8-10 31.
Cumberland Valley (61)
Morgan Frazier 0 0-0 0, Mackenzie Torresin 2 0-0 4, Allison Hinish 0 0-0 0, Katie Jekot 6 0-0 16, Melanie Miller 2 0-0 4, Mackenzie Zimmerman 0 0-0 0, Morgan Baughman 1 0-0 2, Kelly Jekot 9 1-2 19, Jessica Tonrey 4 0-0 8, Lydia Schwalm 1 0-0 2, Sarah Lehman 3 0-0 6.. Totals — 28 1-2 61.
Palmyra_ 5_ 10_ 10_ 6 _ — _ 31
Cumberland Valley_ 10_ 20 _ 16_ 15 — _ 61
3-point goals — P 5 ( Stovall 2, Werkheiser, Boyer, McIntyre.) CV 4 (Katie Jekot 4.)