Mifflin County connects in win

LEWISTOWN – In the blink of an eye, Ashleigh Williams found Breanna Cline for an uncontested lay-up and a foul.

That happened pretty much whenever the Mifflin County girls basketball team wanted it to in a 78-66 win over Central Dauphin East on Friday night at Mifflin County High School. And the Huskies’ coach points out why that means something.

“We’re above .500 in this league,” Mifflin County coach Roger Herto noted. “They’re the No. 2 team in this league. To get that win was really nice. It puts us closer to our goal of the postseason. After five games in seven days, to finish with that one … I know the kids were tired, but I’m proud of the win.”

Above .500 now, and with one game left – also against the Panthers – Mifflin County can not have a losing record in league play.

The Huskies got out in transition after Central Dauphin East made baskets, made eight 3-pointers, six of which came in the first half and went 27-of-44 from the foul line in a blitzing of Panthers.

Central Dauphin East was kept in the game by the outstanding play of guard Michaela Gelbaugh, who scored a game-high 35 points in a variety of ways.

On several occassions when the Huskies’ defense converged on her, Gelbaugh lofted up a floater that almost always went in.

“Tonight, we were playing a kid that was very good,” Herto said. “She was ridiculous tonight. Everything she was throwing up was going in. You have to give her credit, sometimes we doubled her and she still put them in.”

Mifflin County started off strong when Cline’s lay-up opened the scoring for Mifflin County.

After Sara Desso answered with a 3-pointer to briefly put the Panthers up 3-2.

Jessa Wright answered with five straight of her team-high 24 points, staking Mifflin County to a 7-3 lead.

The teams exchanged baskets before Gelbaugh struck for her first three of the night to make it 9-8 with 5:10 left in the opening quarter.

Cline and Gelbaugh exchanged baskets at the end of the quarter to give the Panthers a 20-19 lead.

Williams made two free throws and Jessica Rawls answered with a putback to give the Panthers their final lead of the game at 22-21.

That’s when Rebeka Knable left her mark on the game.

She made a three, got a steal and made another three to make it 27-22 Mifflin County.

Brittany Robinson drained a three for Central Dauphin East to draw it within two at 27-25.

That’s when Mifflin County put its foot on the game and took it to the visitors.

Cline made another lay-up to open the 8-0 run before Knable connected on her third three of the quarter.

Bryce Papp made two free throws and Wright made on to end the run to give the Huskies their biggest lead of the night at 35-25 with 2:52 left in the second quarter.

Rawls ended the run with a basket and Papp answered with a three.

Gelbaugh made a three then got a steal and followed it with another duece.

Immediately following the basket, Williams found Cline again to bookend the half with another transition layup.

“We run ‘Husky,’ which is our pattern fast-break,” Herto said. “That’s Ashleigh Williams being a great passer and Breanna Cline busting her butt down the floor like she always does.”

A Rawls putback with 6:40 cut Mifflin County’s lead to 43-38.

The Huskies came right back and slammed the Panthers with an 11-0 run to stretch it out to 54-38.

That was when Mifflin County scored in the most interesting way of the night.

A pass intended for Knable bounced off her back and right to Wright, who found the bottom of the net for two of her eight during the 2:11 run.

“I feel really good about that end of the floor,” Herto said. “I’m very proud of what we’ve done offensively.”

The closest Central Dauphin East got the rest of the way was when Gelbaugh drained a three with 1:30 to go in the game to cut to 71-62 Huskies.

Wright iced the game with four free throws in the final minute and Mifflin County (10-8, 7-6 Mid-Penn) came away with the critical conference win.

Mifflin County dropped the junior varsity game 38-34.

“I’m really proud of them to hang in there tonight and get that done,” Herto said. “We’ve seen State College, we’ve seen Hollidaysburg and now we’re gonna get a look at Altoona (Monday night).”