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Friday night marked the culmination of a summer's worth of anticipation for first-year Spring Grove girls' basketball coach Holly Baublitz.

The Rockets opened their season with a 49-42 win against Carlisle in the Spring Grove tip-off tournament. Spring Grove advances to Saturday's 3 p.m. title game against Mechanicsburg, which beat Eastern York, 53-32.

With the win, the Rockets already have half as many as they did all of last year, when they went 2-20.

"It feels great, it's a positive start to the season, but we can only go up from here," Baublitz said.

The Rockets saw an early 10-2 lead slip away as the Thundering Herd went on a 12-0 run. But the Rockets utilized great passing to score on five straight possessions and take a 25-23 lead into halftime.

Baublitz's face lit up as she talked about her players passing the ball.

"That's the key thing," she said. "We've been working so hard since the summer on the basics of passing, passing to where our teammates are going and where we're going with a pass."

Spring Grove built a 34-25 lead with a strong defensive third quarter, but Carlisle sliced into the deficit with a 7-0 run early in the fourth.

Spring Grove called timeout with 6:18 to go and then went on an 8-2 run with assists on all four baskets.

After a 43-second possession, Morgan Hagerman found Missy Katz for an open jump shot to make it 36-32.

Thirty-six seconds later, Katz swung drove and kicked the ball to Hagerman for a deep 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 7. Katz finished with just 6 points, but she impacted the game mightily with seven assists and five rebounds.

By far the best pass of the night came from Leanna Miller.

Leading 43-38 with a minute to go, Miller was trapped in the offensive baseline corner when she bounced a pass between the two defenders' outstretched fingertips back to forward Abbie Marquette at the top of the key.

Marquette drove to the basket and hit a runner to seal the game.

"It's really rewarding, and not just for me," Baublitz said of seeing hard work in practice pay off in games. "Once they started making a few really good passes, they started feeling, 'Oh, man'. Even our fans, they started to really appreciate the passing and were happy."

Marquette led the Rockets with 16 points, while frontcourt-mate Ashton Ball came off the bench to score 12, 11 in the first half.

In the other first-round game, Mechanicsburg's Jordan Hertz had a near triple-double with 15 points, 11 steals and eight rebounds as the Wildcats rolled.

"The way we played defensively that first half is pretty much how we want to do it all year," Mechanicsburg head coach Clay McAllister said.

"We always have everyone back in the gaps, and stay on our man," Hertz said. "I don't want to let my teammates down on defense. It also helps that I have really long arms."

Spring Grove 49, Carlisle 42

Carlisle (42)

Miller 2 3-5 7, Brown 1 0-0 2, Newson 4 1-5 9, Alagic 0 0-0 0, August 0 0-0 0, Eschenmann 0 2-2 2, Purcel 1 0-0 2, Freet 3 0-0 6, Kassidy Ingram 6 2-2 14. Totals 17 8-14 42.

Spring Grove (49)

Ashton Ball 5 2-3 12, Katz 3 0-1 6, Miller 0 0-1 0, Mad. Hagerman 0 0-2 0, Wentz 0 0-0 0, Mor. Hagerman 3 2-4 9, Abbie Marquette 7 2-3 16, Naylor 2 2-4 6. Totals 20 8-18 49.

 Carlisle     _ 8     _ 15     _ 2     _ 17     _ —     _ 42

Spring Grove     _ 10     _ 15     _ 9     _ 15     _ —     _ 49

 3-point goalsSG 1 (Morgan Hagerman).

Mechanicsburg 53, Eastern York 32

Mechanicsburg (53)

Skurcenski 3 2-2 8, Jordan Hertz 6 3-6 15, Everett 1 0-1 3, Engle 1 0-0 2, Gelnett 1 0-0 2, Badorf 3 2-5 8, Schrass 3 0-1 6, Deveney 3 1-3 7, Campbell 0 2-2 2, Patterson 0 0-0 0, Huggins 0 0-0 0. Totals  21 10-20 53.

Eastern York (32)

Tillotson 3 2-2 8, Arnold 1 3-5 5, Gallentine 1 0-0 2, Bartch 0 0-1 0, Lehman 1 0-0 2, LaCesa 1 4-7 6, Myers 3 3-7 9, Pfeiffer 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 12-22 32.

Eastern York     _ 0     _ 7     _ 13     _ 12     _ —     _ 32

 Mechanicsburg     _ 15     _ 17     _ 9     _ 12     _ —     _ 53

 3-point goals Mechanicsburg 1 (Rylee Everett).

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