Monday, January 22, 2018
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Falcons Bolt past Mounts

With the basket and three Ephrata defenders to her back, and the score tied at 18 in the final minute of the first half of a Lancaster-Lebanon League Section One-Two crossover game, Cedar Crest’s Alyssa Austin decided to try something different.

The 6-foot-2 junior dribbled the ball beyond the 3-point line, turned and knocked down a long-range shot, sending the Falcons into halftime with a lead that evolved into a 50-34 victory.

“She’s a safety blanket,” Falcons coach Jim Donmoyer said of Austin, the center of a Cedar Crest team looking to defend its league title. “In the second half, we dedicated it to getting her the ball inside. That’s what she did, and she delivered.”

Austin finished her night with 13 points to lead all scorers, attacking the low post and lifting shots as purple-clad Mountaineers swarmed her inside.

“If she gets the ball down low,” Ephrata coach Mike Garman said of Austin, “she’s tough to stop.”

Austin netted the first points of the second half, sending Cedar Crest (4-0, 2-0 L-L) on an 11-0 run to start the third quarter.

“I don’t know what it is,” Donmoyer said, “but we go in, we talk at halftime, and they come out focused. We’ve done that quite often.”

Ariel Jones (11 points) hit a 3-pointer, Caitlynn Albright (10 points) added a basket, and Rachel Witherite netted two of her six points to complement another Austin inside basket during Cedar Crest’s second-half surge.

“They’re not easy games,” Garman said, as the Mountaineers’ schedule continues with a crossover game scheduled for Wednesday against McCaskey, last season’s Section One champion and league runner-up. “They’re games you’d probably rather have later in the season, once you’ve had a chance to get a little bit better.”

Ephrata (2-3, 1-1), paced by 12 points from Caroline Stauffer and 10 from Kenzie Horst, scored five field goals in the second half.

“We just have trouble,” Garman said, “putting the ball in the hole.”

The Mountaineers controlled the game’s tempo early. Stauffer’s four first-quarter points, complemented by baskets from Kasey Umana and Kay Liebl, helped Ephrata keep pace with the Falcons while cutting Cedar Crest’s possessions short with turnovers and defensive rebounds.

“We definitely weren’t being patient,” Austin said. “We were taking shots we didn’t need. We were throwing shots up that weren’t there. We just needed to slow it down and run some plays, get the ball inside and make things happen more.”

Horst, the Mountaineers’ senior center, led all players with 12 rebounds, limiting Austin’s second-chance opportunities.

“Last year, she had 24 (points) against us,” Garman said of Austin. “I thought Kenzie did a really nice job.”