Bulldogs deflect late charge

MOUNT UNION – They’re young. They’re a little banged up. They want to live and die outside the arc.

And a scoreless second period put them deep in a hole against Claysburg-Kimmel Wednesday.

They’re Mount Unions girls, and despite all the foibles the Trojans fought against in the Inter-County conference basketball game, the Trojans stayed with the program and put a late scare into the Bulldogs.

Just not enough: Claysburg-Kimmel escaped with a 40-34 victory.

“It’s a learning process,” Mount Union coach Jenny Cunningham explained.

Of course, that applies to her, too – after a career that included nothing but success at Lewistown, the rookie leader faces the same difficulties as her team, which is not the one she expected to put on the court thanks to injuries to two starters.

“That’s tough,” she said. “I’m expecting some very young girls to step up to the challenge and I can’t be disappointed with what they’re doing.”

Well, sometimes. Cunningham was frustrated that her team missed nine free throws on 12 tries, especially when the visitors were 6-of-11. There were too many turnovers early in the game, and more when Claysburg-Kimmel started pressuring the ball in the back court.

“I’ve been talking about those mental lapses and being disciplined on offense and defense all year,” she said. “I think it’s getting better for us.”

Still, she said, mistakes like that “are things that good teams can’t do.”

Coming up empty in the second quarter was the low point for the Trojans, who missed six attempts, five of them from three-point range, while Claysburg-Kimmel extended a slight three-point lead into a 12-point advantage at the break.

There was a turn of events that started in the third – the score was almost even for that frame – and the Trojans might have won the quarter but for an untimely hack on a block attempt late in the third, allowing the Bulldogs an old-fashioned three-point play.

The an entirely different Mount Union team took the floor for the last eight minutes.

The quarter opened with a pair of long-distance efforts by Mount Union, as Ashlyn Drake – who had three of the team’s seven treys – hit one, and Ashley Foor followed that with one of her own. It was a seven-point game, and a flustered Claysburg-Kimmel was making its own situation worse with fouls.

The Bulldogs kept it there until the final four minutes of play, but were surprised by a Tynita White triple that cut the lead to five points. White went to the basket again, driving the paint for two hard-earned points after missing a pair of free throws, and it was a one-possession game.

But that’s as close as it got – twice after that, Claysburg added to its advantage and saw the different chopped to four; White and Aaliyah Gilbert-Walker each found to bucket to keep the Trojans in striking distance.

It just wasn’t enough – forced to foul for the ball, Mount Union could only watch as Claysburg-Kimmel’s Alyssa Burk hit a pair with nine seconds on the clock to make the final.

“They were working hard,” Cunningham said. “I told them, ‘Fight for that kind of stuff.’ I would rather see hard work and going after the ball than standing around.

“And this is a good team. I think we stuck to the challenge, came back and fought hard.”

White’s 11 points led all scorers; Drake ended with nine, all 3-pointers. All five of the starters – who basically played all but a few minutes of the game – put points on the board.

Mount Union won the JV game 41-19.

The Trojans (6-6, 3-4) travel to Southern Huntingdon Friday.

Girls basketball

Shikellamy 49, Midd-West 21

SUNBURY – Shikellamy’s 20-point third quarter opened a wide gap that the Braves made only bigger in the final stanza, winning a 49-21 decision over Midd-West in Heartland Conference girls basketball Wednesday.

The Mustangs struggled on the floor, shooting only 14 percent as a team. Brianna Beiler’s six points was the best Midd-West could muster, while Shikellamy had three players in double figures.

Shikellamy won the JV game, 37-24.

Midd-West (5-7) hosts Danville Saturday.