Girls Basketball fall to Spring-Ford, Season Ends

Article by Eric Epler, Pennlive.com/Photos by Chris Knight

For the full article, click here.

NEW HOLLAND – Losing sight of Spring-Ford’s all-star guard Sammy Stipa is never a good idea, especially in crunch time. Unfortunately for a courageous outfit from Mechanicsburg, that lesson learned was a bit more painful with the Wildcats basketball season hanging in the balance.

Stipa and the defending PIAA Class AAAA champion Rams found their offense at just the right time Tuesday at Garden Spot High School as Mickey McDaniel’s troops outscored the Wildcats 17-6 in the final period and recorded a 42-35 Round of 16 victory.

Trailing 33-29 with under 6:30 to play, Spring-Ford (25-6) ravaged the Wildcats with a 13-0 run with Stipa leading the assault. The Lafayette recruit stashed the first seven points of that sprint and finished with a team-high 14 points.

Cecily Carl’s 15 points paced Mechanicsburg (22-8), hellbent on preserving its season until Stipa intervened. Spring-Ford advances to the Elite 8 against fellow District 1 program Abington, a 53-43 winner over Wilson.

“Sammy is just a clutch player,” said McDaniel about his senior general. “We all know that she’s playing hurt but she just finds a way to get it done. When it needs to be done, you can always count on Sammy Stipa.”

PIVOTAL SEQUENCE

Spring-Ford’s hard-nosed defense took its toll early, but Clay McAllister’s Wildcats turned a corner in the second period. Using Carl’s 18-footer and a Jordan Hertz runner to right the ship, the Wildcats chased ahead when Hertz nailed another tough leaner and Carl converted a Hannah Brown drop-in, all in the final 40 seconds of the half.

Carl was on point again when her 3-pointer from the top of the key, and traditional three-point play to follow, helped the Wildcats build 31-25 edge with 7:50 to play.

Still, a few wasted possessions led to a string of four straight turnovers that strengthened Spring-Ford’s resolve. Less than two minutes later, Stipa’s deep 3-ball from the left wing turned momentum for good.

The senior followed with a 18-foot jumper, then pulled up from 10 feet to granted the Rams a 36-33 advantage at the 4:10 mark. Buckets by Shelby Mueller (11 points), off a Stipa assist, and Abby Beyer quickly put the Rams out of reach.

The Wildcats could only counter with a Kourtney Landis jumper from the baseline in the waning seconds. Mechanicsburg was saddled with 21 turnovers, 13 in the final 16 minutes.

“They mixed it up defensively and they ran a ton of bodies at us. We went with the girls that got us here,” said McAllister. “We knew we were going to turn it over a little against them, but we talked about not turning it over near mid-court, or in a position where we couldn’t get back to defend.”

STATS FRENZY

Mechanicsburg won the rebounding edge, 23-20, with Carl’s eight leading the way. … Molly Hynes and Beyer shared 12 points for Spring-Ford, who played without 6-0 junior Maggie Locke (concussion). Mueller picked up the slack with six rebounds. … Stipa also collected five rebounds and three steals.

WHAT THEY SAID

“We lost Stipa there in the fourth quarter. We really thought if we could get it into the low 40s, we had a pretty good shot. But I’m proud of how we responded after that first quarter. We just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.” – Mechanicsburg head coach Clay McAllister

“They just find a way to get it done. They have huge hearts and they showed it again tonight. We’ve got to keep working on our offense. We know that but, at the same time, we do have that defense that can help us through.” – Spring-Ford skipper Mickey McDaniel


Article by Jake Adams, The Sentinel

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

GARDEN SPOT – Spring-Ford coach Mickey McDaniel described his team with six simple words.

“They’re together five fingers, one fist,” McDaniel said.

For a while the Rams (24-5) weren’t much of a fist in their second round battle against Mechanicsburg (23-7) in the AAAA state tournament. A defensive scrum for three quarters left Spring-Ford scrambling for some sort of success.

But they finally punched through in the fourth quarter, thanks to a seven-point outburst by senior Sammy Stipa, breaking a four-point deficit to down the Wildcats 42-35.

“We needed that spark in some way,” Stipa said.

For three quarters Mechanicsburg had the defending state champs on the ropes. The Rams broke out to a 10-6 lead after one quarter of play, but that was due in large part to some bad breaks around the rim as the Wildcats shot just 2-for-10 in the frame.

The next two quarters – while not a shooting exhibition – were more reminiscent of the Mechanicsburg squad that routinely dominated this season. The District 3 sixth seed regrouped in the second quarter, as five Wildcats scored at least two points to take a 21-18 halftime lead.

“I never doubted the fact that we would be ready to go,” Mechanicsburg coach Clay McAllister said. “I don’t feel like we were intimidated in the least, and that’s no disrespect for them.”

The confidence soared in the final three minutes of the half. A corner 3 by Hannah Brown and consecutive jumpers by Jordan Hertz and Cecily Carl cemented an 11-2 run in the closing minutes.

“Their two big kids inside (Brown and Carl), they’re just tough, tough players,” McDaniel said. “They play physical, they go after you and they rebound well.”

The boxing match continued in the third quarter, with the Wildcats keeping the upper hand. A low-scoring eight minutes of action saw Carl dominate. The junior missed a put-back, but made the ensuing foul shots. Moments later Hertz found her on the wing for a trey. The quarter ended with Carl getting the conventional three-point play in the final seconds to score all eight Wildcats points, pushing the lead to 29-25.

“She’s outstanding,” McAllister said of Carl. “And we have an unselfish team to boot.”

Carl finished with a game-high 15 points and eight rebounds. But outside of her success, the Wildcats struggled offensively.

Both teams played contrasting defensive games, with the Wildcats sporting a half-court zone against Spring-Ford’s constant in-your-face pressure defense.

While Carl nearly hit her season average, Brown and the rest of the team struggled. The constant pressure didn’t allow the perimeter players to feed Brown and Carl inside consistently, part of the reason the Wildcats committed 22 turnovers. Mechanicsburg shot 13-for-33 in the game on top of that.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of teams that played Spring-Ford this year that had 22 turnovers,” McAllister said.

“We definitely did a great job,” Stipa said. “Kudos to all those that guarded (Carl).”

On the flip side, the Wildcats zone held Stipa and Shelby Mueller relatively in check. Both seniors struggled to find open shots throughout the game. But Mechanicsburg did an even better job against their supporting cast, holding the Rams to 16-of-45 from the field and just 18 rebounds. Carl and company hit the glass for 22 boards.

“Their strength negated things we did, our strength negated things they did,” McDaniel said. “So it became a battle of attrition, really, and that’s why we played 11 kids in the first half, trying to keep a lot of our kids fresh.”

It was that strategy – and Stipa’s hot hand – that finally broke the Wildcats.

While McAllister threw out just seven players, Spring-Ford employed 11. In the fourth quarter the fresher legs prevailed, as the Rams shot 7-of-10, led by Stipa’s perfect 3-for-3 that sparked a 7-0 run to recapture the lead for good with four minutes left. The senior dropped two jumpers from the left side, and a trey.

Stipa and company capitalized on three successive Mechanicsburg turnovers on the other end. Seven of their 22 turnovers came in the final frame.

“We had a few empty possession in a row and obviously Stipa’s good,” McAllister said. “She did what she needed to do.”

The loss ends McAllister’s 11th year at the helm of a Wildcats program that returns Carl and Hertz, among others. And after taking the reigning state champions to the brink Tuesday night, there’s plenty for his squad to look forward to.

“If we learn from the three seniors we have and we continue to work and put our time in, it’s a program that can continue to compete at this level,” McAllister.

And maybe next year they’ll be the one delivering the knockout punch.

Email Jake Adams at jadams@cumberlink.com or follow him on Twitter @jakeadams520

Girls Basketball humbles Northeast, Moves to PIAA Second Round for First Time

Article by Raymond Boyd, For The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

PHILADELPHIA — Coming into Friday’s game as a sixth-seed out of District 3, Mechanicsburg was up against a Northeast team led by Ciera Nimmons, a scrappy scoring guard with range and a knack to attack the rim. Wildcats coach Clay McAllister was well aware coming into the game what Nimmons was capable of.

“We worked hard on trying to keep her out of the lane,” McAllister said. The Wildcats’ coach equated good film work to his team’s preparedness.

Their scouting proved worthwhile as the Wildcats pounced all over the Vikings early and often on their way to a decisive 70-36 win in the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA girls basketball playoffs Friday night at Archbishop Ryan High School.

With the win, Mechanicsburg advances to play District 1 runner-up and defending state champion Spring-Ford Tuesday in the second round.

The Wildcats opened up the game with a heavy onslaught of baskets led by Cecily Carl and Hannah Brown. Carl opened up the game with a deep 3-pointer and Brown quickly followed her teammate up with a basket of her own.

The Wildcats’ two leaders propelled the team to a quick nine-point advantage before a 3-pointer from Nimmons.

Nimmons’ three-ball held as the lone score for the Vikings as the Wildcats finished out the first quarter on top 23-3. The stingy defense played by the Wildcats forced the Vikings into a one-dimensional offensive plan centered on getting the ball to Nimmons and hoping that she would catch fire. The Wildcats swarmed to the ball and it was evident that they were amped up.

“Our kids had some energy,” McAllister said. “They were ready to go tonight.”

The second quarter was much the same for the Wildcats. However, it became a bit of a shootout between Nimmons and Carl. Nimmons finally found her offense scoring all 16 of the Vikings second-quarter points, including three 3s and three foul shots made after being fouled shooting a 3. Carl was able to offset some of that production dropping 10 points herself.

Despite the effort from Nimmons her Vikings still trailed 44-19 at the half. The Wildcats displayed fluid offense throughout the first half and came through from the free throw line as well as they knocked down 13 of their 15 first half attempts.

The Wildcats wasted no time reasserting their dominance when play resumed. It was Brown’s turn to get hot and she delivered. Brown tallied 12 points in the third quarter on the strength of four 3-pointers. Her shot was simply falling all quarter and there appeared to be nothing the Vikings could do to chase her off the line.

“I just let it go,” Brown said of her impressive shooting performance. “I just pray that it goes in and if it does, it does.

“I think as a whole team we did really well shooting so it made it a lot easier for me to shoot because I didn’t have a lot of pressure on me.”

The fate of the game seemed decided late in the third as Carl returned to the line and knocked down a pair of free throws to push the lead to 40 points. The Vikings were able to salvage two late buckets in the third, but went into the final frame trailing 62-26.

Entering the fourth quarter, Brown hit one final bucket and then took to the bench along with the rest of the Wildcats starters as the game was well in hand.

Nimmons continued to hustle for the Vikings. She finished the game with 29 of the Vikings’ 36 points.

The Wildcats decisive victory over Northeast was a lesson in efficiency. Brown finished the game with 26 points, 18 of which came from downtown. Carl finished the game with 20 points as she dominated the paint. Both of the Wildcats players were able to play major roles in the down low, while stretching the floor with their 3-point shooting ability.

“It’s nice to have big kids who can step out and shoot it,” McAllister said. “Tonight Hannah shot it really well and Cecily was steady for us like she always is.”

The game was the first state playoff matchup for all of the Wildcats players, but it was clear that they were ready for the moment.

“As a team we weren’t really nervous. We were more excited,” said Brown after the game. “We’ve never been in this position before so it was basically all or nothing. We were just really excited to play for our school.”

Girls Basketball drops Hempfield, Qualifies for PIAA Tournament

Article by Brett Keener, The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

DILLSBURG — It seemed only natural to question Mechanicsburg’s motivation level ahead of Monday night’s District 3-AAAA girls basketball consolation game against Hempfield.

The No. 8 Wildcats entered the contest less than 72 hours removed from a tough quarterfinal loss to unbeaten Manheim Twp., a defeat that had dashed Mechanicsburg’s district title hopes and delayed its shot at a state playoff berth.

As it turned out, it was almost unnatural to doubt the Wildcats. They reeled off a 23-point run as part of a nearly flawless first half, rolling to a 49-26 victory over the No. 11 Black Knights at Northern York High School. The victory clinched Mechanicsburg its first PIAA playoff berth since 2010.

Clay McAllister’s squad will meet No. 10 Red Lion in Thursday’s fifth-place game at a site and time to be determined.

“I’m as proud as I’ve been all year,” McAllister said. “I think you learn a little about your kids on a quick turnaround like this. How badly do they want to keep playing, especially the older kids? I was pleased and I was impressed.”

The effort was all the more impressive considering the game’s first three minutes, which saw Mechanicsburg miss its first seven shots — three of which were blocked — and commit two turnovers. Hannah Brown canned a 3-pointer from the left corner to finally stop the skid and give the Wildcats a 3-2 lead with 4:17 to go in the first quarter.

Hempfield regained the lead with a pair of free throws from Haley Eager, and that was essentially the last highlight for the Black Knights. Brown soon swished a 3 from the top of the key to put Mechanicsburg up 6-4; that was a followed by a 3-pointer from Cecily Carl, and suddenly the early field-goal struggles were forgotten.

“All season long they have been very unselfish,” McAllister said. “Sometimes when you’re not patient enough or if you’re not sharing the ball, it’s a challenge to score. If you can knock some shots down, it makes it a lot easier. Hannah coming out knocking down those shots was big for us.”

Mechanicsburg was essentially unstoppable over the next six minutes. Four different Wildcats took turns scoring by knocking down all manner of shots, from low-post gimmes to midrange jumpers to 3-pointers. Mechanicsburg got it done on the other end as well, forcing tough shots and grabbing defensive rebounds to hold Hempfield to one-and-done possessions.

“We really just tried to execute our plays and play really good defense,” Carl said. “Our team defense is really what we’ve been known for this year. I thought we played it really well tonight.”

The Wildcats eventually opened up a 26-4 lead with 3:56 to go in the half. Hempfield’s Nikki Rhoads finally stopped the 23-0 run with an offensive rebound and a putback, but Mechanicsburg roared into halftime with a 28-6 lead.

Mechanicsburg’s half was impressive by every statistical measure: The Wildcats assisted on eight of their 11 first-half field goals. They went 11-for-17 (65 percent) over the half’s final 12 minutes. They outrebounded Hempfield 22-13. And they held the Black Knights to 2-for-22 (9 percent) shooting and forced seven turnovers.

“We were disappointed after our loss against Manheim Twp.,” Carl said. “We didn’t play bad in that game, but we just got unlucky with the rims and everything. We really wanted to win this so we could get to states.”

Mechanicsburg sewed up that state berth with an uneventful second half, which never saw the Wildcat lead dip below 18 points. Seven Wildcats found the scoresheet, led by Carl with 15 and Brown with 11.


Article by Jeff Reinhart, Pennlive.com

For the full article, click here.

RECAP

Mechanicsburg is heading to the PIAA girls’ basketball playoffs.

Cecily Carl popped in 15 points, Hannah Brown bucketed three 3-points and added 11 points, and the Wildcats topped Hempfield 46-29 on Monday in a District 3-AAAA consolation-round game.

Mechanicsburg, the Mid-Penn Keystone champ and No. 8 seed, seized control early, hitting Hempfield, the No. 12 seed, with an 18-2 first-round haymaker.

UP NEXT

Mechanicsburg (22-5) will take on Red Lion (16-9) in the fifth-place game on Thursday; that’s also for PIAA seeding.

Hempfield (15-10) will square off against L-L neighbor Lebanon (20-7) in the seventh-place game, also on Thursday. The winner makes the state tournament; the loser is done.

MORE ON WILDCATS’ WIN

Mechanicsburg vaulted to a 28-6 lead at the half, holding Hempfield to 2 second-quarter points. … Morgan Vasiliu and Kourtney Landis chipped in with 6 points apiece for the Wildcats; Haley Eager scored a team-high 9 points for Hempfield.

Girls Basketball falls to Manheim Township

Article by Christopher Hopkins, The Sentinel/Photos by Michael Bupp, The Sentinel

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

For the updated District 3 brackets, click here.

ENOLA — Mechanicsburg coach Clay McAllister was feeling pretty good at halftime of Friday night’s District 3-AAAA girls basketball quarterfinal game. Trailing by one against undefeated No. 1 Manheim Township, it’s easy to see why.

After playing below their typical standards for much of the first half, the Wildcats had a chance to do some damage in the second if they could just get back to their game.

Unfortunately for McAllister’s squad, that just didn’t happen. The Wildcats came out of the break and shot just 2-for-12 in the third, tallying four points to turn their one-point deficit into eight. From there, the Blue Streaks cruised the rest of the way, picking up a 42-32 victory over eighth-seeded Mechanicsburg at East Pennsboro Area High School.

The win sends Manheim Township (25-0) to the semifinals, where it will face No. 4 Wilson Monday at the Giant Center. The Wildcats meanwhile, get No. 5 Cedar Crest in the consolation bracket at Northern.

“In the second half, I thought we got a lot of really good looks, but we just couldn’t get them to go,” McAllister said. “We’ve got to make shots. That’s a veteran team that’s won a lot of basketball games for a reason.”

Neither team had much luck offensively to start the second half, with the first two minutes of the third quarter going scoreless. Over the next minute, though, the Blue Streaks made their move. Kaitlyn VanTash connected on a layup to break the scoreless streak before flipping to Caitlin Shultz for another basket. Alexandra Leslie followed with a putback, capping a 6-0 run for Township. With the run, the Streaks led 24-17 — the largest lead of the night for either side.

The Wildcats finished the frame with just two baskets, while going 0-for-2 from the foul line.

In the fourth, Township did what it needed from the line. Of its 14 points in the frame — its most all night in a quarter — eight came off free throws.

“I thought early on we were settling for a lot of jump shots,” Streaks coach Sean Burkhart said. “In the second half, we were able to stay a little more patient and get it inside for some easier looks.”

Mechanicsburg started the night looking strong against the unbeaten top seed. Leading scorer Cecily Carl buried a 3-pointer to open the game for the Wildcats. Later when trailing by two, she connected again from beyond the arc before Jordan Hertz hit a runner in the middle of the lane after a Streaks’ turnover, giving Mechanicsburg a 10-7 lead.

However, the rest of the night was tougher for the Wildcats offensively. From the second quarter on, Carl didn’t hit from the field again, while Hannah Brown had just two baskets herself — against Central Dauphin in the first round, the pair combined for 29.

With 19 seconds left in the first half, Leslie made 1-of-2 from the foul line give the Streaks their 18-17 lead at the break. It would never get that close again.

“When you get to the final eight teams in District 3, there’s not going to be any teams that aren’t good and they’re really good,” McAllister said. “I wish we could have shot a little better and kept it a little closer at the end, but we didn’t.

“We’re certainly proud of our kids and their effort. They played really well, just not well enough.”

Email Christopher Hopkins at chopkins@cumberlink.com or follow him on Twitter @chopkins44

Girls Baketball downs Central Dauphin, moves to D3 Quarters

Article by Christopher Hopkins, The Sentinel/Photos by Michael Bupp, The Sentinel

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

For the updated District 3, AAAA Girls Bracket, click here.

MECHANICSBURG — After losing to Cumberland Valley in the Mid-Penn championship game last week, Mechanicsburg coach Clay McAllister stressed to his team that there was nothing to be ashamed of — the Eagles are one of the best teams in the state. However, there remained room to improve.

Against Central Dauphin, another Commonwealth squad, the Wildcats did just that. After jumping out to an early lead, No. 8 Mechanicsburg held off the ninth-seeded Rams, 52-38, Tuesday night in the first round of the District 3-AAAA playoffs at Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School.

With the win — Mechanicsburg’s first victory in the playoffs since 2010 — the Wildcats advance to play top-seeded and unbeaten Manheim Township Friday night at East Pennsboro Area High School.

“There’s no shame in losing to Cumberland Valley, but I don’t think there’s anybody in Mechanicsburg that felt like we played the way we’re capable of,” McAllister said. “We were passive and intimidated. That was disappointing to them. Tonight, we basically said that whatever happens, there’s going to be no regrets.

“We knew we had to be the aggressor, and I think we were.”

The Wildcats (21-4) wasted little time in getting ahead of CD (12-10). Holding a one-point lead midway through the first quarter, they ran off eight straight points to end the frame. Jordan Hertz highlighted the run, burying a 3-pointer from the wing before beating the buzzer 30 seconds later with an eight-footer to make it 17-8.

The next two quarters weren’t exactly as easy for the hosts. Instead of rolling over, Central Dauphin — which was playing in its first game since losing to West York on Feb. 1 — picked up the pressure, especially on defense. The full-court press at times gave the Wildcats fits and helped the Rams cut the deficit to just two.

However, Mechanicsburg never did surrender its lead. For every run CD threatened, the Wildcats answered, stealing back momentum before it got to be too much.

“We had some really good possessions tonight when we really needed good possessions,” McAllsiter said. “I think that’s what you need to do when you get to this point. That’s a sign of a team that’s focused.”

In the second, it was Meghan Ross cooling off the Rams, hitting a 3 from the wing to turn a four-point lead into seven. In the third, with just a one-point advantage, Hannah Brown connected on a jumper from the foul line, kick-starting an 8-2 run that stretched into the fourth.

From there, Mechanicsburg did everything it needed to assure it was moving on. In a physical fourth quarter, the Wildcats broke the press enough and made their foul shots to put the Rams out of reach. With a stellar effort on the defensive side, they outscored the visitors 14-5 in the final eight minutes, with 12 of their point coming off free throws.

Playing in tough situations late is nothing new to the Wildcats, whose contest against CV last week was just the latest big game they’ve played in this season.

“We feel more prepared in those clutch situations at the end,” said Mechanicsburg’s Cecily Carl, who finished with a game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds. “Those games really help us throughout the year and have helped us get ready for the postseason.”

Carl was just one of three Wildcats to finish in double figures, with Hertz adding 13 points and Ross 10. Brown had nine points and eight rebounds.

“That’s how we do it,” McAllister said of the team effort. “They love each other, they want to win. We need them all to chip in and they all chipped in tonight.”

Email Christopher Hopkins at chopkins@cumberlink.com or follow him on Twitter @chopkins44

Wrestling advances 4 to District 3 Tournament

Article by Jeremy Elliott, Pennlive.com/Photos by Dan Gleiter, Pennlive.com

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

For full results of the District 3, Section 1 Tournament, click here.

Lucas Chestnut and Garrett Spiewak have been friends since the third grade. Now, they are a solid one-two punch.

This isn’t some new MMA tag-team situation in the Octagon. It’s the Mechanicsburg wrestling team, and Chestnut and Spiewak deliver plenty of pop in the 220 and 285-pound weight class.

And they feed off each other.

That was evident during Saturday’s District 3-AAA Section I tournament at Mechanicsburg High School. Chestnut and Spiewak both secured titles in impressive fashion, racking up falls in their championship bouts.

Chestnut kicked things off by planting Gettysburg’s Scott Six in 1:02 to secure the 220-pound title. Moments later, Spiewak, a burly 285-pounder, stuck Cumberland Valley’s Jackson Stanford in 1:29.

“When we’re in the room, drilling and drilling, pushing each other, it’s good competition,” Spiewak said. “If he gets a pin, I want to go out and get a pin.

“I knew Lucas beat [Stanford] 4-0, so I wanted to go out and pin him and get further on top.”

Since the start of the season, Chestnut and Spiewak have been duking it out to see who gets the most pins.

Currently, Spiewak has a slight edge and bragging rights. And he is quick to let his good buddy know his standing.

“Right now, he is three ahead,” Chestnut said. “We have been doing this since the beginning of the season, and he tells me all the time that he is ahead.

“It will be hard to catch him now. We will have to see what happens.”

This is a rivalry consisting of one-upmanship. But it is based on mutual respect, admiration and a long standing friendship outside of the sports arena.

In the wrestling room, these two seniors push each other to the limit. They bang on each other in practice in an effort to make each other better.

It’s worked. Chestnut will take a 25-2 mark into next week’s District 3 Championships, while Spiewak boasts a 26-1 record. It’s that close.

“It’s great having each other to make the other better,” Chestnut said. “The season has been pretty good for us.

“At the very least, we both want to make it to states. Hopefully, we will both place.”

First, they will have to make it through districts, and it is by no means an easy road for either competitor.

Chestnut will have to eventually deal with Wilson’s Hunter Hatlee and Solanco’s Bo Spiller. As for Spiewak, he could see Solanco three-time state champion, Thomas Haines.

“I don’t want to face Haines right away…I mean, it’s Haines,” Spiewak said. “He is an animal.

“We are going to practice this week and make each other better. We are good friends, and we are going to districts with Sam [Marsicano] and Mitch [Gochenaur]. It’s a big accomplishment for all of us.”

Girls Basketball falls in MPC Championships, readies for District 3 Tournament

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel/Photos by Michael Bupp, The Sentinel

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

HERSHEY — After losing to Palmyra last season, Cumberland Valley had to wait another year to get another crack at the Mid-Penn title. Thanks to some bad winter weather, the Eagles had to wait two more days.

In the end, the wait was well worth it. Saturday evening, CV rode the hot shooting and the nerves of Mechanicsburg to a 55-29 victory to take the conference championship at Milton Hershey’s Spartan Center.

“This is especially nice after losing to Palmyra last year,” CV coach Bill Wolf said. “Palmyra was an excellent team, but to win the Mid-Penns is special.”

The Commonwealth champion Eagles got the start they were hoping for. Maddie Torresin drained a 3-pointer and Kelly Jekot scored on a dish from Torresin on the fast break.

Torresin scored again in the paint and Wildcats coach Clay McAllister was forced to call a time out. From there, things got progressively worse, forcing him to call a second time out in the first four minutes.

After eight possessions, the Wildcats had four missed shots and six turnovers. The Eagles would extend that opening run to 17-0 before Hannah Brown drained a trey at the 1:21 mark. Later Cecily Carl hit a short baseline jumper to make it 19-5 after one quarter.

“We just didn’t get the start we hoped for and we couldn’t dig out of the hole,” McAllister said. “We had some kids who didn’t play as well as they wanted. Obviously we are disappointed, but I am certainly happy we made the tournament. We can now get ready for the District 3 tournament next week.”

Carl scored to open the second quarter, but several turnovers allowed the Eagles to extend the lead to 23-7 and later 27-9.

Mechanicsburg held its own through the rest of the second quarter and only trailed 27-14 at the half.

“The start of the game was big, but I also thought the start of the third quarter was key,” Wolf said. “We had an 11-1 run to open the third quarter and that eliminated any idea of a comeback. We had balanced scoring, but I thought Meghan Rhoades did a great job on defense against Carl. She is so good that she is going to score her points, we just have to contain her and Brown.”

Rhoades scored twice in the paint to extend the lead to 42-19 and the Eagles coasted from there.

“Winning this year is huge after last year,” Eagles guard Jen Falconer said. “We fell short last year, but we were a bit more focused this year. We have been more team-oriented and making the extra pass and not worrying about who scores points.”

“My job was to focus on fronting Carl and make them make the pass over the top,” Rhoades said. “We knew that Brown and Carl are their scorers and we needed to make them work for their points. I got a lot of help from the weak side and they took a lot of my fouls when I was beat. This team is special and I look for a long run to keep the season going.”

Torresin led the Eagles with 13 points while Kelly Jekot added 12 points as nine Eagle players tallied points and all 12 saw action.

Carl led the Wildcats with 11 and Brown added nine points.


Article by Jeff Reinhart, Pennlive.com/Photos by Mark Pynes, Pennlive.com

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

 

RECAP

Mission accomplished.

Ever since falling to Palmyra in last year’s Mid-Penn Conference championship game, Cumberland Valley’s players and coaching staff made it a priority not only to get back to the title game, but also to win it.

The Eagles took care of business Saturday night.

Maddie Torresin scored 13 points and Kelly Jekot added 12 points to pace a balanced attack, Cumberland Valley feasted on 15 first-half turnovers, and the Eagles zoomed past Mechanicsburg 55-29 in Milton Hershey’s Spartan Center for Mid-Penn gold.

Cumberland Valley, the Mid-Penn Commonwealth champ, sprinted to a 17-0 lead, grabbed a 19-5 first-quarter cushion and then broke the game open with an 11-1 spree to open the third quarter.

Mechanicsburg, the Mid-Penn Keystone champ, finally sprang to life in the second quarter, outscoring Cumberland Valley 9-8.

But coach Bill Wolf’s Eagles turned the Wildcats over 21 times in all and used their dominating transition game — plus seven 3-pointers in half-court sets — to claim the championship.

KEY SEQUENCE

Had to be Cumberland Valley’s 17-0 game-opening charge, during which Mechanicsburg coach Clay McAllister burned a pair of timeouts, only to watch the Eagles continue to soar.

Torresin knocked down a pair of treys and a spin move in the post, Jekot had a pair of buckets and a 3 and Jen Falconer scored in transition to kick-start the Eagles’ hot start.

To their credit, the Wildcats hung tough, cutting down on turnovers in the second half while forcing the Eagles into 14 turnovers.

But Cumberland Valley’s hot start was too much for Mechanicsburg to overcome.

PUTTING THE D IN DEFENSE

If there was one area Cumberland Valley needed to be sharp, it was on the defensive end against Mechanicsburg’s top scorers, Cecily Carl and Hannah Brown, who can both beat you off the bounce at the rim and from the perimeter.

With Falconer and Taylor Sneidman defending out front, and Torresin, Jekot and Meghan Rhoads mixing it up in the paint, they held Brown to 7 seven points and Carl to 11 points — both under their per-game averages.

NUMBERS GAME

Cumberland Valley also out-rebounded Mechanicsburg, by a 30-18 margin. Rhoads and Torresin had 6 boards apiece for the Eagles; Carl had 4 rebounds for the Wildcats. … After hitting three first-quarter 3s, Cumberland Valley iced the game in the third with three more treys, with Sneidman, Torresin and Jekot splashing triples, each one after the Eagles milked some clock.

UP NEXT

Cumberland Valley (20-4) and Mechanicsburg (20-4) are both off to the District 3-AAAA playoffs.

The Eagles, who drew the No. 2 seed, host No. 15 New Oxford on Tuesday. The Colonials knocked off Harrisburg 31-27 in a preliminary round game on Friday.

The Wildcats, who earned the No. 8 seed, host No. 9 Central Dauphin on Tuesday.

Girls Basketball downs Middletown, will meet Cumberland Valley in MPC Championship

Article by David Bohr, Pennlive.com/Photos by Dan Gleiter, Pennlive.com

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

For a basketball team to succeed in a the postseason, it often must be more than meet the eye.

Take, for instance, the Mechanicsburg girls’ basketball team. The first thing that would stand out to a spectator would likely be the Wildcats’ height, with 6-3 Cecily Carl and 6-0 Hannah Brown.

It would take no one by surprise for Mechanicsburg, already the Mid-Penn Keystone Division champion, to try to dominate a game inside. But in the playoffs, one dimensional offense only takes a squad so far.

In their first postseason game of the year, the Wildcats established early that they will not be one dimensional.

They defeated Middletown 51-35 in the Mid-Penn semifinals on Tuesday night to earn a spot in the conference final.

Mechanicsburg took control of the game early, making four 3-pointers in the first period.

Making the Wildcats even more difficult to defend, two of the trey were hit by guard Megan Ross and the other two were hit by Brown moving outside.

“That’s huge,” Mechanicsburg head coach Clay McAllister said. “That’s what we need, other people stepping up. All year long we’ve had kids step up and be willing to do it. We’re a lot tougher when we have someone hitting shots outside.”

Once the outside threat was established, the inside game opened up, especially for Carl. She finished with 21 points, 19 after the first quarter.

“They run that high-low game so well, it’s a nightmare matchup for us,” Middletown head coach Chris Hunter said.

Mechanicsburg will play Cumberland Valley in the Mid-Penn finals. That game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Milton Hershey, but depending on the probable snowstorm that day, the contest could be moved to Saturday.

Either way, it is an opportunity that the Wildcats appreciate.

“It’s really exciting for us,” Carl said. “None of us have been in a position like this. It’s nice to be playing for something more than trying to get third place in the Keystone.”

After the Mid-Penn finals are over, Mechancisburg will host Central Dauphin in the District 3-AAAA Round of 16 on Feb. 18.

In AAA, Middletown will host West Perry in the Round of 16 on Feb 19.

Even in defeat, the Blue Raiders benefitted just by being a part of the Mid-Penn playoffs. It gave them a chance to get a couple of players coming off of injury, Jordan Campbell and Kassidy Deibler, some minutes and back up to game speed.

“It was good for them to get their legs under them,” Hunter said.

The big story: Mechanicsburg built a big lead in the first quarter and ran away with the game in the third quarter in a 51-35 win over Middletown in the Mid-Penn girls’ basketball semifinals on Tuesday night. The Wildcats (20-3), who led 20-8 after the first period, will play Cumberland Valley in the Mid-Penn final. The championship game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Milton Hershey, but could be pushed back to Saturday in the case of a snowstorm.

Key sequences:At the end of the second quarter, Middletown’s Jaylynn Burton had a layup rolled out in the final seconds. The Blue Raiders (18-4) entered halftime down 31-19 and without momentum. It showed in the third period, in which the Wildcats had a 12-3 advantage. Cecily Carl scored eight points in that quarter.

On the scoreboard: Carl led all players with 21 points. Hannah Brown, Carl’s front court teammate, added 14 in the win. But it was Meghan Ross who set the tone for the game by scoring 10 points in the first quarter, including two 3-pointers. She finished with 12 points. Jaylynn Burton led Middletown with 17 points, including the only trey for Middletown.

For a closer look at how the early 3s set up Mechanicsburg’s offense, click here.

Hustle points: Carl had 13 rebounds as Mechanicsburg had a 33-20 advantage in boards. The Wildcats had 12 turnovers, though four of them came in the last 90 seconds when only reserves were on the court for Mechanicsburg. Middletown had eight turnovers.

What they’re saying: “They’re capable of getting them in bunches. We worked on stopping dribble penetration and keeping them out of the lane.” – Mechanicsburg head coach Clay McAllister

“At the beginning of the year, [Ross] was leading the team in 3-pointers, and it made everything easier. it spread out defenses and made it easier for my teammates to get the ball into me.” – Cecily Carl

“We talked about weathering the storm for the first two or three minutes, and staying controlled on offense. We can’t have them make every 3-pointer that they take.” – Middletown head coach Chris Hunter

Rapid reaction: Mechanicsburg showed itself at its most dangerous in this game. Just having the 6-3 Carl and 6-0 Brown in the middle makes the Wildcats formidable, but with both Ross and Brown hitting a pair of 3s in the first quarter, there just is not much a defense can do against them. Cumberland Valley’s guards will have to cut down the Wildcats’ outside looks.


Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

SILVER SPRING TWP. — Mechanicsburg’s quick start and strong shooting helped them roll over Middletown 51-35 in the opening round of the Mid-Penn Tournament at the Eagle Dome Tuesday night.

Cecily Carl scored on the opening possession, but Middletown’s Jey Rivera answered that bucket to tie the contest.

Meghan Ross and Hannah Brown scored for the Wildcats to counter one short jumper from Jaylynn Burton and the visitors led 6-4.

Ross and Brown combined to drain four triples in the next six possessions to up Mechanicsburg’s lead to 20-6 with about one minute left in the quarter.

“We knew coming in we were in a mismatch,” said Blue Raider coach Chris Hunter. “We didn’t play well, but we also knew they were big, physical and could shoot the ball well. They were just too big for us and they shot the ball well. Number 25 (Ross) comes out and hits two threes back-to-back, and we had to come out of our zone a bit.”

The Wildcats maintained their lead throughout the contest. They started to play inside-outside with Brown and Carl, and were able to score at will. Carl led all scorers with 21 and Brown tallied 14 for the Wildcats equaling the total number of points by the Blue Raiders.

Aside of Ross’ 12 points, Kourtney Landis (2 points), Morgan Vasiliu and Jordan Hertz were critical in the victory. They handled the ball, filled the gaps on defense and contributed rebounds and assists to the big two. Vasiliu had eight rebounds and four assists. Landis contributed two rebounds and three assists with a single bucket. Hertz distributed four assists, added two blocked shots and four rebounds.

“We played pretty well tonight,” said Wildcat coach Clay McAllister. “Meghan (Ross) is a special player and as a senior, you want to see her do well. She has made so many big shots and plays for us, it was only fitting. Hannah (Brown) has been so solid night in and night out. This game was about the extra kids — Morgan (Vasiliu), Jordan (Hertz) and Kourtney (Landis) — that do so many things that don’t show up in the scorebook. I told the kids only four teams made it here, so just go have fun.”

Middletown made a mini run at the Wildcats in the second frame. They had a 6-0 run late in the quarter to cut the lead to 10 at 29-19. Carl scored on a put back at the buzzer for the 31-19 Wildcat lead.

Mechanicsburg went on a 12-2 run to open the third quarter to effectively put the game away. They led 43-21 as Brown and Carl scored 10 of the points.

“We knew what we needed to do and we were able to take the early lead,” Ross said. “We knew by winning we get the opportunity to play against Cumberland Valley. Everybody wants to play them and we just have to control the ball and make shots.”

“I was disappointed in our effort at times and our intensity,” Hunter said. “This was our second trip to the Mid-Penns, but I told the girls we made it and we will learn from it. We start all underclassmen and this is a good experience for them.”

Mechanicsburg will take on Cumberland Valley at 6 p.m. Thursday at Milton Hershey for the Mid-Penn final.

Wrestling takes down Susquehanna Township on Senior Night

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

MECHANICSBURG—With both teams sitting outside of the District 3 team tournament field right now, the motivation comes down to getting better for the individual tournament. Mechanicsburg’s senior hammers came through with that in mind to give the Wildcats a 54-25 win over a short-handed Susquehanna Township squad Thursday night at Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School.

Leading by a 36-25 score, seniors Mitch Gochenaur, Lucas Chestnut and Garret Speiwak flattened three Indian wrestlers in a total of 4:27 to pick up three pins and 18 points.

Six matches were decided by forfeit as teams have been battling with injuries and available wrestlers.

“I have never seen so many injuries at this point of the season,” Mechanicsburg coach Greg Budman said. “The match played out the way we anticipated it would, but I don’t like giving up that many points on forfeits. We lost two matches that we had as swing matches but our big guys came through with pins.”

Wildcats’ Dylan VanNostrand picked up an early forfeit at 106 but Mechanicsburg returned the favor at 113 as Farhan Musrial picked up an easy hand-raising to tie the match at 6.

Nicholas Gentry picked up a forfeit at 120 as the Indians wrestler was injured and unable to wrestle.

Brayden Willis, of Mechanicsburg (6-11, 4-2 Keystone), controlled his match and was ahead by a 12-0 score when he finally caught his opponent and recorded a fall at the 2:56 mark.

Owen Watkins, of Susquehanna Twp. (3-2, 1-7), had a 9-2 lead when he caught ahead lock and pinned Dequan Edmonson at the 3:34 mark.

The two teams traded forfeits at the next two weights as Darnell Rogue and Tristan Skelly each picked up six team points. At the half way point of the match, the Mechanicsburg led 24-18.

Arthur Watkins picked up a solid workmanlike match against Cooper Willis. He rolled out to a 7-1 lead only to let Willis up and really had to fight off a couple of moves by Willis that nearly caught Watkins. The strength of Watkins was his savior as Willis had a hard time getting to move him. Watkins won the match 9-4.

Devin Evans had a hard-fought battle with senior Ryan Myers, of Mechanicsburg. The coach’s son was able to control his match and picked up several near fall points but couldn’t end the match with the hand slap. He earned a major decision with a 13-4 win and the Indians took a short-lived 25-24 lead.

“Devin had a really nice win,” Indians coach Dee Evans said. “He has been wrestling up all season a t 170 and we finally were able to get him where he is comfortable at 160. The Watkins had nice wins, but we just gave up too many points with forfeits. Those hammers at the heavy positions did what we had hoped we could do, wrestle, take a chance, and stay off of our backs. We are preparing for the postseason and we will get a couple of kids back next week so we should be full and healthy by then.”

Mohamed Mohamed picked up a forfeit at 170 and Eugene Rodgers got one at 182 to give the Wildcats the 36-25 lead.

Mitch Gochenaur had his opponent on his back twice before earning the fall at the 1:05 mark.

“We are starting to prepare for the sectionals and districts,” Gochenaur said. “We had a good team win tonight and our end of the line up challenges each other. Last year, we had a solid group from 145 up with Tristan, Mitch Ramsey and Joey Krulock and then this group of wrestlers.”

Gochenaur was followed by Lucas Chestnut and Garret Spiewak at 220 and 285 with falls. Spiewak’s came at the 59 second mark to end the match.

“I thought we had a chance at 220 but a mental mistake allowed Chestnut the opportunity,” Evans said. “We had couple of mental mistakes and left openings and they took advantage of them.”

Girls Basketball holds on for win against Trinity

Article by Christopher Hopkins, The Sentinel/Photos by Michael Bupp, The Sentinel

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

MECHANICSBURG — Nothing was falling for Mechanicsburg in the second half.

In fact, after jumping out to a 10-point lead at halftime, the Wildcats were scoreless from the floor nearly 15 minutes into the second half. With their lead gone and Trinity with all the momentum, things weren’t looking too good for the home team.

However, the Wildcats weren’t finished quite yet. Cecily Carl buried a shot from the wing before Kourtney Landis connected on a putback with 1:10 left to play, landing Mechanicsburg back in front for good. While the Shamrocks didn’t go quietly, the Wildcats managed to hang on for a 37-34 victory Wednesday night at Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School.

The Wildcats (14-2, 10-1 Keystone) committed 17 turnovers in the second half compared to just two field goals, but as it turned out that was enough to secure their 11th win in a row.

“We just got a little bit timid in the second,” Mechanicsburg coach Clay McAllister said. “We weren’t as aggressive. At the end of the day, you’ve just really got to give Trinity credit because they played a great second half.”

Trailing by three, Trinity had its chances to tie the game within the last minute of the game. Briana Betz-White hit the back iron on a 3-pointer with 18.8 seconds remaining. After a Mechanicsburg turnover, the Shamrocks got two more 3 attempts, but couldn’t convert.

The Shamrocks (8-8, 7-5) entered the third quarter trailing by 10 points. With all the momentum on the side of the hosts, Trinity turned its game completely around. Instead of rushing their offense early on, the Shamrocks burned 1:30 off the clock in their first set. The possession came up empty, but it was already an improvement.

From there, it was all Betz-White. The senior guard tallied just four points in the first half, but came out firing in the third. Betz-White completed her own 7-0 run to get Trinity back in the game. After draining two free throws, she went coast-to-coast on a steal for an easy layup. On the ensuing possession, Betz-White drained a 3-pointer from the wing and Sage Mansbarger followed with a steal and layup to bring the Shamrocks within two.

“When Betz-White gets down on herself, she really gets down on herself,” Trinity coach Kristi Britten said. “But when something clicks and she gets going, she’s unstoppable. She single-handedly brought us back on the offensive end. Defensively she brought it, too, and can just get everyone going.”

Trinity actually got the lead in the fourth after Betz-White — who finished with 15 points, three assists and three steals — connected on four straight free throws, making it 33-31. The Shamrocks then went on to hold the ball for nearly two minutes, draining the clock to 1:45. At that mark, Mechanicsburg had just three points in the half, all from the foul line. Compared to the eight assists the had in the first half, the Wildcats managed just one in the second.

“I was disappointed with the lack of intensity in the first half,” Britten said. “We had a pretty emotional, spirited talk at halftime. Then they came back out with a lot more intensity. I can’t ask for much more defensively than that.”

However, Mechanicsburg rallied to score the game’s final six points to earn the win. Carl tallied four of her game-high 17 points in the final two minutes. She added seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks to her line. Hannah Brown had nine points.

In the first half, the Wildcats’ two forwards dominated for much of the time. Brown and Carl combined for 19 of Mechanicsburg’s 28 points with Trinity center Miranda Nixon out with foul trouble. The Wildcats led the rebounding battle, 18-8, in the half.

With the win, Mechanicsburg was able to keep control of the Keystone in its own hands, holding a one-game lead in the loss column over Palmyra. With five games left to play in the division, there’s still a lot of season left, but a big win over rival Trinity certainly will help.

“There aren’t going to be any easy one from here on out,” McAllister said. “Everybody’s going to try and give us their best shot. It’s great to get a win and win a bunch in a row. Now we’ve just got to rise it as long as we can.”

Email Christopher Hopkins at chopkins@cumberlink.com or follow him on Twitter @chopkins44