GameTimePA's Athletes of the Week for Dec. 23 are Lebanon Catholic's Alexis Hill and McConnellsburg's Chase Novak. Jessica Sprenkle, GameTimePA.com
The Cedar Crest girls' basketball team's defense has been its calling card this season, and the Falcons established a new season-best Thursday night in a 42-26 win against York Suburban in the championship game of the Trojans' holiday tournament.
Cedar Crest (8-0) beat by a point its previous best, which came in a 41-27 victory against Conestoga Valley on Dec 21.
The lynchpin of the Falcons' defense is senior center Alyssa Austin, who patrols the paint, altering and blocking shots at an alarming rate. Thursday, she blocked five and altered more shots than could be counted.
"Alyssa is a defensive force for us," Cedar Crest coach Jim Donmoyer said. "She's our best rebounder and very tough inside. Her presence allows our guards to pressure more and they know that if they get beat, she can erase it."
Suburban (3-5) shot just 7-of-40 (17 percent) from the field and turned the ball over 21 times.
"(Austin) presents a big challenge with her size," Suburban coach Jess Barley said. "We had some looks from the outside that didn't fall for us and we turned the ball over too much, particularly in the third quarter."
That frame saw the Trojans turn the ball over seven times, allowing Cedar Crest to up its 21-13 halftime lead to 32-17 heading for the final stanza.
The game started well for Suburban, which took a 10-9 lead after the first. But they didn't get a field goal in the second quarter until Parker Faircloth-Henise's bucket at the halftime horn.
"Defensively, we played really well tonight," Donmoyer said. "I challenged the girls to play with more heart and more intensity after the first quarter, and they responded well."
In addition to her quintet of blocks, Austin added eight points and seven boards before fouling out with 3:44 left in the game. She earned an All-Tournament selection for her effort.
Following Austin's disqualification, the Trojans got as close as 37-26 with just under three minutes to go. But they would get no closer as tournament MVP Ariel Jones put the game away with a bucket and a trio of free throws in the final two minutes.
"We had opportunities that we didn't capitalize on," Barley said. "If we can put things together a little bit better, and I think we're getting close to doing that, we'll be a good team."
Jones scored 16 points to go with six rebounds and five assists.
Faircloth-Henise earned an All-Tournament nod with nine points and a game-high 17 rebounds.