CORNWALL — All too typically, the job of a role player is to facilitate opportunities for big-name, star players that dot a starting lineup.
For Cedar Crest's girls basketball team, the big-name stars show utmost confidence in the role players around them, knowing full well the success of the team relies on contributions from everybody to reach the Falcons’ season-long goals.
Monday night at The Cage, there were big contributions aplenty from many a Falcon player, with junior Rachel Witherite leading the Falcons’ trio of her, Ariel Jones and Alyssa Austin — one might call them ‘Splash-Sisters’ — with five of Crest’s 12 treys, not to mention a team-high 19 points, to help sink Warwick, 65-47, in an important early-season Section 1 battle.
“I think we just stuck to the game plan tonight,” Witherite said. “They knew we had size, so they wanted to only give us outside shots. They played zone a little bit in the first half, but then we started hitting threes so they dropped into man. That’s when Alyssa started.”
While Austin was her usual self with 15 points and 10 boards, the game’s top moment came early in the third, when Witherite’s teammates put three fingers in the air before the junior could even finish her release on what was another flawless 3-pointer.
“They have so much confidence in me; probably more than I have in myself,” Witherite said. “It just feels good to have them behind me like that.”
Defensively, the Falcons (5-0, 2-0 Section 1) held the Warriors (4-2, 1-1) and star scorer Rylee Derr without a field goal in the second quarter, carrying a 32-14 lead into halftime.
Though Austin and Derr both had three fouls and just five points at the break, Raven Morgan (10 points, 6 rebounds) provided important inside help to allow Austin freedom to roam, while Witherite and Jones (17 points) piled up the points.
“We’ve got kids that can shoot it,” Falcons coach Jim Donmoyer said. “As a coach, as long as they go in, every shot is a good shot.”
Both Derr (22 points) and high-energy freshman Lailani Batty (17 points) combined for seven triples for Warwick. But the Falcons put the game away via a 34-22 rebounding edge, including six each from Jones and Kelsey Guth.
“We’re in a good place right now,” Witherite said of the win. “We’re focused. We just want to stay at the top of the section all year.”