Catholic knocks off Lady BaronsGirls Basketball

By on January 25, 2012

By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor bmorgan.eph@lnpnews.com, Staff Writer

Six games remain in the regular season.

For the Manheim Central girls, with their sights set on closing out the Section Three title, it’s just one game at a time.

That is especially the case right now, as they try to navigate through a tough stretch with two key players — Maddy and Caroline Novak — shelved with season-ending injuries.

Maddy suffered a knee injury last week in a defeat to Section contender Lampeter-Strasburg and was unavailable Monday night when the Lady Barons hosted Section Four leader Lancaster Catholic. And while the Central girls put up a valiant fight, rallying from a 19-point deficit at the end of the third quarter to get within six down the stretch, they ended up dropping their second loss in their last three games with a 59-45 setback to the Crusaders in a Section Three-Four crossover in Manheim.

"I give (Catholic) a lot of credit, those are great basketball players, but I’m proud of our girls," Manheim Central coach Tom McCabe said. "We fought like crazy."

They needed to bring that same attitude with them yesterday (Wednesday) to Lebanon Catholic, who are tied for second place with LMH in the Section Four standings. Going into that game, the Lady Barons were 8-2 in league play (11-5 overall), two games in front of runner-up Northern Lebanon (6-4, 10-6).

"If we come with that intensity … again, we have six games left. I know we’ve got to win at least three," McCabe remarked. "Four would be nice, but I want to win one at a time. Lebanon Catholic is a great team."

With the Lady Barons fighting through injuries, younger players are getting an opportunity to get minutes on the floor, and Lauree Wiegand and Olivia Novak were among those who stepped up on Monday. In fact, Wiegand’s jumper in the lane at the buzzer in the first quarter pulled Manheim Central even after one, 12-12.

"Lauree Wiegand played a great game. I got some young kids some time (and) they responded," McCabe said. "We have to get kids experience. We’re going to need five or six kids to think about winning the Section. And that’s every night. We need some of those young kids to come in, defend, box out, be strong with the basketball and value the ball."

Breanna Barber, whose game-high 14 boards led Central to a 28-22 edge on the glass, scored on a putback with 6:02 left in the second quarter to put the Lady Barons up 14-12. Barber also chipped in with eight points to help support Renee Wiegand, who finished with a team-high 18 points for the MC girls.

"Breanna showed a lot of courage tonight," McCabe said. "She’s tough on the boards, she’s long, she’s athletic, but she’s playing in constant pain (with a herniated disc). That’s a lot of courage and a lot of guts playing with that pain. She never says a word. She just works her tail off."

But Lancaster Catholic, while turning up the heat on its full-court press, ended the half on an 11-2 run to take a lead it never relinquished. Junior Porscha Hunter-Speller, who had a game-high 21 points and team-high seven rebounds, scored on a putback and then drilled a 3-pointer to get the Crusaders started on their surge.

"I can’t believe Speller — that’s the quietest 21 points I’ve ever seen and I knew she was a player," McCabe said. "We were trying to just contain her."

After the Crusaders pushed their lead to 12 points with 4:26 left in the third, Central got it back within single digits on Barber’s free throw and Lindsay Fink’s layup with 2:17 left in the quarter. But Catholic used a period-ending 10-0 run, capitalizing on turnovers by the Lady Barons on their final three possessions of the quarter, to go in front 44-25 heading to the final stanza. Overall, Central had six of its 24 turnovers in the third when the Crusaders outscored them 21-9.

"We saw three passes on film. We only saw one all night and that’s their bread and butter," McCabe said. "At times, we dribble, dribble, dribble and that’s when we got in trouble when they make you put the ball on the floor."

Lancaster Catholic coach Lamar Kauffman knew his girls needed to play solid team defense to keep the Lady Barons in check.

"With the way they play their offense, they’re very satisfied with running a controlled offense. We have to take them out of a controlled offense," Kauffman said. "We needed to do more pressure in the back-court so they can’t come up and run that controlled offense, which is going to take time off the clock. Even when they’re behind, they’re running that controlled offense, which doesn’t hurt us, but it gets us out of the tempo of the game. That’s the advantage of it. It takes our tempo away, so we have to pick up our defense."

The Lady Barons did a good job of beating that defense in the fourth. Still trailing 47-29 following a triple by Catholic’s Erin Holt with 6:22 to go, the Lady Barons responded with a 14-2 run to cut their deficit to 49-43 with 2:23 remaining in the game. Renee Wiegand had 11 of her 18 points in the fourth before eventually fouling out with 1:56 left.

"Renee is a warrior," McCabe said. "She just fights like crazy. And I (told) her tonight, ‘Listen, I need you take this team on your back and get to the rim. Play great defense.’ She was exhausted. Maybe one or two of those fouls were a product of that."

In the end, Speller scored eight points in a game-ending 10-2 run by Catholic, including going 4-for-4 at the foul line, to help the Crusaders put it away.

"I give our girls credit," McCabe said. "They didn’t stop fighting. And that’s what we talked about. Keep fighting, fight through adversity — I don’t know how many wins we need to win a Section. Yes, we’re down Maddy, we’re down Caroline, we’re fighting for our lives right now, we’re battling. But I think our kids are coming together."

Last Thursday, Morgan Mummau nailed four treys and finished with a game-high 14 points to lead the Lady Barons to a 41-34 conquest of host Columbia in a Section Three-Four crossover. Renee Wiegand chipped in with 11 points for the Central girls, who took early control with a 12-4 lead in the first. More LADY BARONS, page B-4