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L-S deals Lady Barons their first league loss
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
The Manheim Central girls did a noble job on Lampeter-Strasburg big girl Lexie Lantz.
But with the Lady Pioneers’ leading scorer out of the game for most of the third quarter with her fourth foul on Tuesday night, Krista Mellinger stepped up her game.
Scoring six of her team-high 10 points in that stanza, Mellinger helped the L-S girls turn a four-point deficit into a seven-point lead heading to the fourth quarter and the Lady Pioneers never trailed again on their way to knocking Manheim Central from the unbeaten ranks in league play, winning 40-38 in a Section Three showdown in Lampeter.
"(Mellinger) is a really nice player," Lady Barons’ coach Tom McCabe said. "I like her game and I’m pretty sure she’s a freshman … (L-S had) good execution. They’re a great team and we’re going to focus now on getting back on the horse."
While falling to 7-1 in Section Three (10-4 overall), the Central girls maintained a two-game lead on Northern Lebanon (5-3 L-L) and a three-game cushion on L-S (4-4 L-L). But after facing Columbia tonight (Thursday), Manheim Central will have a brutal back-to-back next week with crossover games against Section Four contenders Lancaster Catholic and Lebanon Catholic.
"We have a tough week ahead and we’ve got to refocus," McCabe said. "… L-S is a rivalry. Every year, it’s a lot of energy and excitement coming here because L-S wins the Section One year, and Central won it one year. And right now they’re chasing us, but we still have to take care of our own business. I’m not going to look at what anybody else does."
The Lady Barons will be looking to improve in a couple areas of their game after shooting just 13-for-49 (27 percent) against Lampeter-Strasburg’s zone defense — including 3-of-22 from beyond the arc — and committing eight of their 14 turnovers in the second half while giving up the lead.
"I didn’t think they were forced turnovers. I don’t think we were patient," McCabe said. "We asked people to kinda stretch the zone a little bit to find holes, but we were getting a lot of one and two pass possessions where I think if we were a little more patient, we get some things because we’re a little bit stronger, we have shooters. But give L-S credit. They had a nice game plan going in and they executed."
Maddy Novak finished with 11 points to lead three MC players in double figures. Renee Wiegand and Lindsey Fink each added 10, and when Wiegand made one of two free throws with 7:24 left in the third, the Lady Barons had a 19-15 advantage. A three-pointer by L-S’ Taylor Lininger put her team up 22-21, and then Novak answered with a mid-range ‘J’ to give the Lady Barons a 23-22 advantage with 4:04 left in the third. But that would be the Lady Barons’ final lead.
Tori Schultz scored on a putback to start a period-ending 7-0 run by the Lady Pioneers which gave them a 30-23 lead going to the fourth quarter. Lantz, who leads L-S with 15.2 ppg, was held to four points, while grabbing 10 rebounds, Robyn Beddow and Emily Good each finished with seven points to help support the Lady Pioneers’ offense.
"Their guards penetrated, they got to the rim, they got to the foul line, and they made shots," McCabe said. "I think they executed that little delay, if you want to call it that."
Early in the final stanza, Wiegand’s layup and Breanna Barber’s putback cut the deficit to 30-27 with 6:22 to go, but the Lady Barons would then go nearly six minutes without another field goal.
Still, they trailed only 34-30 with less than two minutes remaining, and then Central got a break when Lininger and Mellinger each missed the front end of a 1-and-1. But back-to-back turnovers were costly for the Lady Barons, and then L-S’ Beddow buried a jumper with :48 to go to make it 36-30.
"I think it comes down to patience," McCabe remarked. "And that hurt us at times tonight — the lack of patience."
Novak, who bounced back from an injury she sustained with 4:20 left, finally ended Central’s scoring drought from the field on a layup with :39.5 remaining. Later, Fink’s triple with :3.6 to go gave the Lady Barons a glimmer of hope, cutting L-S’ lead to 40-38. Then Kristen Robeson stole the Lady Pioneers’ inbound pass and got the ball to Wiegand for a final desperation shot. But her 3-point attempt at the buzzer was off the mark, and L-S held on for the victory.
"We’ve got to take care of our business and we’ve got to beat Columbia on Thursday and get back into it," McCabe said. "We have to play like we can play. We’re the class of Section Three and I truly believe we can compete with anybody in the L-L right now."
Last Friday, Fink and Novak scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, and the Lady Barons survived a scare from ELCO, winning 40-36 in a Section Three game in Manheim.
After sprinting to a 14-6 first-quarter lead, the Central girls had their hands full with the Raiders the rest of the way. Led by Cheyenne Hassler’s game-high 13 points, ELCO cut it to one at the half, 21-20, but Fink finished with three treys to help clinch it.