Wildcats struggle in opener

MILLERSTOWN – Amy Davidson’s debut as coach of the Greenwood girls basketball program did not go as smoothly as she hoped as her Wildcats fell to Susquenita 50-30 in the opening round of the 40th annual Perry County Tournament.

Greenwood had no answer for Blackhawk junior Miranda Hoover, who was a dominating force in the low post as she poured in 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Sixteen of Hoover’s 19 came in the first half-as she pushed the Blackhawks to a 30-14 led by the break.

Overall, Susquenita drained 13 of its 35 first-half shots. Greenwood was only able to connect on six of its 24 attempts.

“Hoover’s a great player,” Davidson said. “We knew coming in we would have to focus on her. We did the best we could to stop her, but kudos to her.”

Blackhawks coach Shannon Dyer agreed.

“I think she was rearing to go,” she said. “(Hoover) put in a lot of work during the summer and fully prepared for the season.”

In the third quarter, Susquenita proved its offense could be multi-dimensional as seven different players put up points, which fueled their lead as it ballooned to 47-20 by the end of the third stanza. The Blackhawks connected on seven of their first nine shots following intermission.

Susquenita’s pressure was relentless and Greenwood’s young squad struggled to break it. This was particularly an issue early as the Wildcats turned the ball over 12 times in the first quarter and 32 times total.

In fact, in the first quarter Greenwood had more turnovers (12) than shots (8).

“Turnovers are something we struggled with in our scrimmages as well,” Davidson said. “(Ball handling) is something we will have to continue and focus on each day at practice.”

Susquenita had five girls record multiple steals as senior Amber Turpin came up with four while Vanessa Hoffman, Hoover, and Amber Seigfried each had three apiece, and Kayla Rhome plucked two.

Senior Hattie Kuhns paced the Wildcats with 11 points – including a pair of conventional three-point plays – seven rebounds, and four steals.

Sophomore Mallory Fortenbaugh delivered a solid line for the Wildcats with eight points, seven boards, a steal and a block. Senior Emily Fisher pulled down six caroms to go with her four points and fellow senior Jordan Burkepile came off the bench to hit a 3.

Greenwood did outrebound Susquenita 38-35.

“I saw a lot of positives tonight,” Davidson said. “We did a great job executing the new offense I’ve installed when we got the chance. We just have to work on finishing easy layups.”

“We are veteran heavy (four starting seniors) and they are young (three sophomore starters) and we took advantage of that,” Dyer said. “I think as the season goes on, they are going to get a lot better.”

Greenwood takes on Newport, which lost to West Perry, 61-14, today at 6 p.m. in the consolation game.

Susquenita and West Perry will meet in the championship for the third year in a row. West Perry has won the last two including last season.

Susquenita has appeared in the last eight Perry County championships. The last Perry County championship for Greenwood came in 2010 when it knocked off Susquenita in the finals. 31-27.