HARRISBURG – New season, same script for the Cedar Crest girls basketball team.
After withstanding an early frenetic pace and pressure defense from Harrisburg, Jim Donmoyer’s Lady Falcons found themselves trading buckets in the second half.
A bounce here, a loose ball there, and Cedar Crest was right back where they were a season ago.
Dajahnae Brannon poured in 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while teammate Tysha Brown added 19 points as Harrisburg pulled away 52-39 in the District 3-AAAA third place game at Central Dauphin East High School.
For the second straight season, Cedar Crest (22-5) will finish as the district’s fourth seed and will take on the third seed out of District 1, either Central Bucks South or Upper Dublin in the first round of the PIAA state tournament beginning next week.
District 1 will complete its tournament Friday night.
Harrisburg’s relentless defense held Cedar Crest to 14-of-42 shooting and forced 22 turnovers. To their credit, the Lady Falcons handled the high-intensity pressure defense thrown at them fairly well thanks to junior point guard Ariel Jones.
“We played pretty well in the first half as far as the press, there were some trips where you’re running kids in and out and subbing trying to get everybody in,” Donmoyer said. “It’s a seed game, third or fourth, we’re in, so I decided I’m going to get some kids playing time, get them in the game.
“The kids played hard, they fought to the end. That’s a good team, they’re athletic, they’re quick, I think athletic and quicker than we thought coming in.”
Donmoyer knows his team can hang with anyone right now. Jones is a big reason. The junior scored a team-high 16 points and handled a constant double or triple-team most of the night.
“She’s our momentum,” Donmoyer said. “It’s either fast or slow, it’s up to her. Usually with her it’s fast, it’s never slow. I thought it was a personal challenge tonight, their point guard [Tysha Brown] is a Providence recruit, Ariel is only a junior, so I am sure she took that personal.”
Harrisburg’s defense picked up the intensity in the final eight minutes, holding Cedar Crest to 1-of-6 shooting and forcing seven turnovers in the first four minutes of the final quarter.
“One thing about our pressure, we want it to wear, we understand it’s a 32-minute game. We just wanted to keep throwing bodies at [Jones] and make other people do stuff,” Harrisburg head coach Dwan Lee said. “Eventually it wears on you, early in the game we were getting steals but we weren’t turning them into baskets. We did a better job in the second half to get the ball into ‘Nae and that opened some things up.”
Harrisburg (21-5) controlled the glass out-rebounding Cedar Crest 38-19 thanks in large part to Brannon and Raven Ransom who combined for 20 rebounds.
“There’s no shame,” Donmoyer said. “We’re 22-5 now and we’re having a good season, just couldn’t get over the hump tonight. Same situation as last season, we lost the semifinals, came here, lost the consolation, we get the same District 1 third seed.
“I think we’re battle tested. I hope we are. If we’re not, we’re going to get our lunch.”
Harrisburg 52, Cedar Crest 39
Cedar Crest (39)
Alyssa Austin 3 0-0 7, Ariel Jones 6 2-3 16, Skyanne Yancey 2 1-3 7, Jade Rolon 1 0-0 3, Caitlynn Albright 1 1-4 3, Gracen Donmoyer 1 1-1 3. Totals — 14 5-11 39.
Dajahnae Brannon 6 7-9 19, Tysha Brown 6 4-5 19, Ahmya Woodyard 2 1-1 5, Kira Merritt 1 0-0 2, Raven Ransom 1 1-1 3, Ilyn McLaughlin 0 4-8 4. Totals — 16 17-24 52. .
Cedar Crest _ 7 _ 12 _ 12 _ 8 _ — _ 39
Harrisburg _ 9 _ 11 _ 13 _ 19 _ — _ 52
3-point goals — CC 6 (Austin, Jones, Yancey 2, Rolon, Witherrite), H 3 (Brown 3) .