Huskies pull away from Lions
Mifflin County has strong 4th quarter play
LEWISTOWN — Mifflin County battled adversity through three quarters, struggling to run its offense and keep State College’s Maya Bokunewicz in check.
The Huskies used a dominant fourth quarter in which Mifflin County overcame a seven-point deficit, thanks in large part to Hannah Aumiller and her 11 fourth quarter points in Mifflin County’s 56-45 victory over State College in a Mid-Penn Commonwealth girls basketball contest Friday night.
Mifflin County (13-2, 7-2 Commonwealth) took an early 3-0 lead after Aumiller knocked down a 3-pointer following the opening tip, but did not regain the lead until midway through the fourth quarter.
The Little Lions’ (7-8, 4-5 Commonwealth) Bokunewicz scored eight points in the opening quarter and was in double figures by halftime as the Huskies struggled to find an answer for her defensively.
“With three practices canceled due to snow, we hadn’t practiced five-on-five since last Friday and I think it showed tonight,” Mifflin County coach Roger Herto said. “We didn’t play well in the first three quarters, but we were able to hang in there and get a win.”
Mifflin County struggled to knock down shots in the opening minutes, prompting Herto to call a timeout with 5:07 left in the second quarter. The Huskies finally got moving offensively and closed the first half on an 11-5 run to trail 24-20 at the break.
The Little Lions’ made it clear that they were not going to let Eleana Eckley beat them as they held her scoreless in the first half after she scored 29 points and recorded her 1,000th-career point earlier this season against State College.
“I have to commend Eleana,” Herto said. “I don’t know what the voting will say at the end of the year, but she is the best player in the Commonwealth. They used a triangle and one and doubled her all night. She stayed poised, kept the team together and had a big and-1 for us. Her maturity tonight was big.”
Eckley started to get into a groove offensively in the second, relying on Mifflin County’s strong supporting cast of Rylie Rittenhouse, Molly Wagoner and Aumiller to get the Huskies back on track.
The Little Lions, though, went on an 11-6 run to push their lead to 39-32 entering the final frame.
The physical play of Mifflin County, including multiple trips to the free-throw line in transition, as well as a 42-31 advantage on the glass allowed Mifflin County to take a 44-43 lead with 4:43 remaining in the fourth.
While the game certainly did not come easy for the Huskies, Herto knew that all his team needed was to find the energy to retake the lead.
“I felt like we were really better on the floor than they were tonight,” Herto said. “Sometimes with a rivalry game you worry, but you just need to make the plays in front of you. Hopefully tonight was a step toward getting past that.”
Despite shots not falling early for Aumiller, it was clear that she was a focal point in the Huskies’ game plan, as she scored a career-high 15 points in the win.
“I really needed to believe in myself and I really needed to step up for my team,” Aumiller said. “Having a night like tonight really helps me to believe in myself and to help my teammates.”
“Hannah Aumiller took a big step tonight,” Herto said. “She hit a three early on and then missed a couple shots. Her M.O. in the past had been to sit back after misses and then let the game happen and tonight we needed her, and to her credit she made them when we needed them. She hit a couple jumpers and got to the basket as well.”
Equally as important for the Huskies was the stellar play of the freshman Wagoner, who contributed eight points while collecting 16 rebounds, dishing out six assists and blocking five shots for Mifflin County.
“In the first half, we weren’t really doing well offensively, but in the second half we stayed more spread out,” Wagoner said. “We passed the ball well and were able to score.”
The defensive effort that led to a 24-6 advantage for Mifflin County in the fourth quarter also came in large part to freshman Emma Yeager, who was able to hold Bokunewicz to just two baskets from the floor in the second half, including just two points in the fourth.
“From the time at halftime when we put her on Bokunewicz, that really changed the game,” Herto said. “It took her out of the game and she didn’t score like she was in the first half. Emma is a tough, gritty kid who has a lot of energy and she provided a spark.”
The Huskies’ role players provided a huge spark in the victory, as seven players scored for the Huskies. Rittenhouse recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Eckley scored 11 points for Mifflin County.
“It’s so cool that even if someone is having a bad game, so many other people are able to step up,” Wagoner said. “We have a great all-around team.”
With the win, Mifflin County earned a season-sweep of rival State College for the first time in school history. Mifflin County defeated the Little Lions 48-44 at State College on Dec. 18.
“It’s an awesome feeling since this is something that we have never done before,” Aumiller said. “This team is like a family and it’s really awesome for us.”
The Huskies, who have gotten out to an all-time best 13-2 start, will face a tough stretch of games next week starting with a home game against Cumberland Valley Tuesday.
Mifflin County 56, State College 45
Maya Bokunewicz 5 6-8 16, Kelsey Love 3 4-6 10, Elizabeth Czekaj 3 2-2 8, Jess Lingenfelter 2 0-0 6, Isabelle Leazier 2 0-2 5. Totals: 15 12-18 45.
3-point goals: Lingenfelter 2, Leazier.
Did not score: Emily Engle, Lexi Risha
Hannah Aumiller 5 3-4 15, Eleana Eckley 2 7-8 11, Rylie Rittenhouse 4 2-4 11, Molly Wagoner 3 2-2 8, Emma Yeager 2 2-3 6, Fern Silfies 1 0-0 3, Jenna Fleegal 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 16-21 56.
3-point goals: Aumiller, Rittenhouse, Silfies.
Did not score: Jamie Mahigel, Megan Harshbarger.
Score by quarters:
Mifflin County 9-11-12-24 — 56
State College 15-9-15-6 — 45