Huskies improve, not enough

LEWISTOWN – When the Central Dauphin girls basketball team took the floor against Mifflin County in Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division action Tuesday, the Rams towered over the Huskies both literally and figuratively.

With a very tall starting lineup and the confidence of a 68-35 win over Huskies earlier in the season, the Rams had a lot to bolster their confidence.

Mifflin County, however, brought them out of the clouds pretty quickly.

Although the Huskies lost the game, 58-46, they gave the Rams much more of a game than in the teams’ first matchup. It was so much of a game, in fact, that Central Dauphin only led by two at the half.

After an all-around great effort by Mifflin County in the first half – a performance which included hitting the boards on both the offense and defense, contesting Central Dauphin’s shots, and a buzzer beater by Rebeka Knable at the end of the second to make the score 28-26 in Central Dauphin’s favor – the Huskies had the Rams sweating bullets at the half.

But the third quarter was a different story.

Although Mifflin County matched Central Dauphin blow-for-blow in the first two quarters of play, Central Dauphin’s offense started to outpace the Huskies to the tune of six unanswered points early in the third to make the swing point in the game. This was made possible by the fact that by the end of the quarter the Rams had outscored Mifflin County 20-14, making the score 48-40 leading into the final stanza.

“I think they tried to smell blood in the water a little bit and got a couple extra shots on us,” Mifflin County coach Kevin Kodish said, referencing the six unanswered points Central Dauphin put up in the third to substantially extend its lead.

But even if that was the moment Central Dauphin started to pull away, it took a great effort by the Huskies to make that point in the game necessary.

The Huskies’ first half performance was highlighted by Knable’s buzzer beater, a 3-pointer from Williams late in the first quarter to give Mifflin County a brief lead, a tenacious defensive performance despite Central Dauphin’s size advantage and an effort in the second to crawl back from an eight-point deficit to tie the score at 22-22.

“I want to really compliment our team for fighting 32 minutes. Last time we played them in December at their place, we weren’t remotely competitive,” Kodish said.

But, as evidenced by the Huskies’ first-half performance, they were very competitive in Tuesday’s game.

In the fourth quarter, Central Dauphin hit the first shot to expand the lead to 50-40, and soon afterward began to play a delay game. This made it difficult for the Huskies to get the ball on offense, and Central Dauphin eventually outscored Mifflin County 10-6 for the final score of 58-46.

“I’m impressed with the way our girls fought. They improved a ton,” Kodish said.

One way in particular the Huskies improved over the last game was that they held Central Dauphin’s Shatara Parsons, who put up 20 last time, to 15 in this meeting.

Olivia Halfpenny outpaced Parsons by one for a game-high 16 points.

In the end, Kodish took much encouragement from the team’s improvement.

“We want to take this game and take another step up the ladder next time and just keep improving our game. At the end of the season you’re playing good basketball and you’re beating good teams,” he said.

Central Dauphin won the JV game, 46-43. Tara Kibe had 11 for the Huskies.

Mifflin County (7-6, 3-6) travels to Harrisburg on Friday.