New year, new Cedar Crest girls basketball team?
Nope, same old undefeated Falcons.
On Tuesday night, Cedar Crest began the 2017 portion of its schedule the same way it ended 2016, handling another opponent with relative ease. This time it was a pretty good Manheim Township club, by a 66-47 score in a Section One battle at the Falcon Cage.
A career-high 31 points from electric senior point guard Ariel Jones and a 25-point third quarter outburst did the trick for the Falcons, who improved to 9-0 overall and 4-0 in Section 1 ahead of Friday night's first place section showdown with Hempfield.
It was also Cedar Crest's ninth straight double-digit win to open the season, as Jones was well complemented by 10 points apiece from senior shot-blocking machine Alyssa Austin and reserve guard Jade Rolon, in addition to nine more points from emerging junior forward Raven Morgan.
Somebody's bound to rain on Cedar Crest's parade sooner or later, but, well, don't hold your breath that it's going to happen soon.
"I think they played very well," said Cedar Crest coach Jim Donmoyer of his squad, the Lancaster-Lebanon League's lone unbeaten team. "We're 9-0. I don't know, I think we stack up pretty well in the L-L, and we're second in the district (power rankings, in 6A). It's only nine games into it, but I thought the whole team played well."
"I think we can be very good," said Jones, when asked just how good these Falcons can be. "We played good tonight in the second half, if we can play like that for a full game we'd be pretty much unstoppable."
Speaking of unstoppable, Jones pretty much was. She tallied her 31 points via 12 field goals, including a 3-pointer that began the third quarter onslaught, and perfect 6-for-6 free throw shooting, while also doing a superb job setting up teammates for easy buckets and open looks. In short, it was a sensational performance by the speedy senior point guard, who just may be the L-L's best player.
"She's a playmaker," Donmoyer said. "When she has the ball in her hands she's tough to stop as you saw tonight. I personally don't think you can guard her one-on-one. She's that good that they don't want her to have the ball in her hands at the end of the game while they're fouling us, so they double-teamed her."
Jones dropped 14 of her 31 points in the first half, and the Falcons needed all of them, as Township (5-4, 2-2 Section 1) hung in nicely behind the junior duo of Megan Baldassarre (23 points) and Olivia Matto.
The Blue Streaks jumped to an 8-2 lead midway through the opening quarter, but Crest quickly shook the cobwebs and never trailed again after Jones nailed two free throws for a 9-8 lead with 1:32 left in the first.
It was only a 23-19 lead at the half, but that quickly changed in the clinic also known as the third quarter, which began with Jones' 3-pointer and ended with her slicing through traffic for a layup in the waning seconds.
"They're a tough team and they came at us right away," Jones said of the rough start. "I don't think we were as ready for it as we wanted to be in the beginning, but we pulled through in the second half. We had a big start to the third quarter, and it really paid off for us."
"I think it was just the energy in the locker room. Coach gave us a great pump-up speech, and we all knew we needed to bring it in the third quarter."
Cedar Crest 66, Manheim Township 47
Manheim Township (47)
Matto 5 1-4 12, Bushong 2 2-2 6, Baldassarre 6 8-9 23, Evans 0 4-4 4, McKnight 1 0-1 2, Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 15-20 47.
Cedar Crest (66)
Jones 12 6-6 31, Donmoyer 0 2-2 2, Witherite 1 0-0 2, Morgan 4 1-2 9, Austin 4 0-0 10, Rolon 2 6-8 10, Guth 1 0-0 2, Woelfling 0 0-0 0 Totals: 24 15-18 66
Manheim Township 10 9 8 20 - 47
Cedar Crest 13 10 25 18 - 66
3-pointers: MT - Baldassarre 3, Matto, CC - Austin 2, Jones.