Mount Union survives comeback scare

MOUNT UNION – With only 12 points for Mount Union in the second half of Friday night’s girls basketball game, it would be natural to think the Trojans had trouble beating Inter-County Conference opponent Moshannon Valley.

But as cold as the second-half scoring was, the first half was a shooting display by the Trojans, as 14 points in the first quarter and 24 in the second led them to the 50-39 win over the Damsels.

“We are hot and cold. The first half I told them to focus on defense, and offense would come, and I think it did,” Mount Union coach Jenny Cunningham said.

In terms of defense, Cunningham was definitely correct.

Moshannon Valley notched one bucket early in the first quarter and another in the last minute to tally a meager four points to Mount Union’s 14. For the Trojans, it was the man defense that kept the Damsels struggling on their offensive end, while Reegan McCaulley was busy in the paint for Mount Union with a quarter-high five points.

In the second quarter, continued success by the Trojans in pulling down the boards on both ends of the floor again kept Moshannon Valley out of the double digits, while Tynita White got aggressive under the basket to put up nine of her game-high 16 points.

Teammate Ashley Foor also found her offensive groove near the end of the quarter, notching two from beyond the arc, the second of which was a bank shot buzzer beater for the 38-13 lead at the half.

As it turned out, the 25-point lead was something the Trojans would need later in the game.

Something put a damper on Mount Union’s hot scoring during the break, and in the third quarter a different team stepped onto the floor in terms of offensive output.

“Second half I subbed a little more, put in a few mixes that they’re not used to, some rotations they’re not used to, but they overcame it and that’s what I’m proud of,” Cunningham said.

After working through a slow third quarter where the two teams combined for nine points, Moshannon Valley put together more points than it had managed to gather in the preceding three quarters with 22. Hannah Kitko was the hero for the Damsels in the mini rally, notching eight of her team-high 14 points.

On Mount Union’s end, White and Gabby Morder each hit a 2-pointer, while Stephania Stewart hit one from 3-point distance as Moshannon Valley’s rally attempts fell short, 50-39.

One of the sticking points in the game was Mount Union’s defense, which was especially strong in the first half. In the third quarter, the Trojans began to falter as they collected nine fouls, but the Damsels squandered the opportunity as they only scored four points in the stanza.

“We did some stupid things and we got some stupid fouls, but overall I think defensively we played a lot better,” Cunningham explained.

The loss was Moshannon Valley’s eighth straight, putting them at 4-14 overall and 1-10 in the conference.

Mount Union (8-9, 5-5) travels to Juniata Valley Tuesday, but for Friday’s win, Cunningham was glad about the heart she saw from her girls.

“I told them tonight ‘I want you to focus on having a good attitude, playing good defense and playing with heart.’ So if you look at those three goals, we made it,” she said.

In JV action, Mount Union edged the Damsels, 34-28. Stewart led the Trojans with 12 points.