Lady Barons collect back-to-back victories
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
There was something missing for the Manheim Central girls basketball team.
Yes, they had already gotten themselves in the win column.
But not on their home floor.
As of last Friday night, however, you can check that off their list.
Junior guard Sarah Painter scored 11 of her game-high 16 points as Manheim Central darted to an eight-point lead at halftime and the Lady Barons never looked back on their way to a 39-28 victory in a Section Three-Four crossover game in Manheim. Sophomore Olivia Novak also reached double figures with 12 points for the MC girls.
"We’ve played some improving basketball in the gym," Manheim Central coach Dan Cotchen said. "We had a tough loss against Conestoga Valley early in the year. I thought we played Northern Lebanon well and had a close game, lost by eight. But finally coming together to close a game out … in the last quarter and a half, they played with a purpose. They knew they had the lead, they knew that they didn’t have to run down the court and get quick shots. We were looking for good shots and I think we were a more patient team in that last quarter and a half than we were early on and that was the key."
Coming off that victory, they entered Tuesday’s action with some confidence and won back-to-back games for the first time this season, as Painter scored 15 points and Kristin Robeson added a season-high 13 in the Lady Barons’ 54-44 win over Pequea Valley in a Section Three-Four crossover in Kinzers.
That improved Manheim Central’s record to 3-7 in league play (4-11 overall).
The Lady Barons set the tone against PV by taking an 18-11 lead in the opening quarter. Last Friday, however, it was Mennonite (1-8 Section Four, 3-12 overall) who jumped to an early 4-0 lead on putbacks by Jada Dunsen and Carolyn Krasley against Central’s 2-3 zone defense. Dunsen paced LMH with 10 points.
But Olivia Novak scored four points and Caroline Novak drilled a 3-pointer in a 10-2 run by the Lady Barons which gave them their first lead. When Lancaster Mennonite’s Aubrey Haller knocked down two free throws, the game was tied at 10-all, but Painter answered with two foul shots to put Central up for good.
Although Central didn’t light it up from the field, shooting just 4-of-18 from the field in the first quarter, Kelli Barber dominated on the boards, grabbing six of her team-high 10 boards in the period. In addition to that, she also did a terrific job holding Dunsen to five points below her season average (15.1).
"I’ll tell you what, not just the boards, but I thought how she played defense on their big scorers was one of the key defensive efforts in keeping them under 30 points," Cotchen said. "She’s an unsung hero — not really one of our big scorers, but she will put a putback or a little jumper in or she’ll get the layup and that kind of thing. But she really just did a nice job defensively on that girl."
The Lady Blazers were still within two, 18-16, with 3:48 left in the half, but Central scored the final six points of the half, capped by Painter’s long jumper from the left elbow to make the score 24-16 going to the locker room.
"From the offensive standpoint, she is confident with her shot now and looking to score, but certainly not looking to force the issue," Cotchen said.
From a defensive standpoint, the Lady Barons did a nice job of forcing giveaways by Lancaster Mennonite. Manheim Central switched to a man-to-man match-up late in the first quarter and the undermanned Lady Blazers had 13 of their 24 turnovers in the opening half. LMH then proceeded to lose their first three possessions in the third and Lauree Wiegand’s two free throws put MC up by dougle digits, 26-16, with 7:16 to go in the period.
"I would have liked to have seen us maybe in the upper 40’s or so with that many turnovers," Cotchen said. "But it certainly was in the right direction. We’re not the best shooting team and we were a little better tonight and we made some key buckets when we had to make key buckets and I think that was important."
After Painter converted a putback and then finished a three-point play, Olivia Novak’s pull-up jumper in the lane gave the Lady Barons their biggest lead of the night, 33-19, with 1:54 remaining in the third quarter. They still led by that margin when Painter dropped in a layup early in the fourth, making it 35-21. But then Central got a little sloppy down the stretch, turning the ball over eight times in the quarter, and the Lady Blazers went on a 7-0 run to get within 35-28 on a jumper by Dunsen with 1:57 to go.
But that’s as close as they would get, as Wiegand and Barber answered with layups to seal Central’s win.
Last Wednesday, Jan. 9, in a hard-fought battle in Manheim, the Central girls gave Section Three second-place team Garden Spot all it could handle before suffering a 37-35 overtime loss. More LADY BARONS, page B-4