Huskies survive Trojans’ late charge
Gingrich’s clutch 4th lifts Mifflin County
LEWISTOWN — Hoping to spark his team after a disappointing finish on Wednesday at Cedar Cliff, Mifflin County coach Roger Herto issued a challenge to his team to defend home court against a Hershey team that entered Friday’s game with back-to-back victories.
Despite an offensive onslaught from the Huskies in the opening half, it was Mifflin County that had to dig deep late, as it’s 17-point advantage with 2:50 left in the third quarter evaporated to just two in the final minute.
Mifflin County got the ball to its elite point guard, as sophomore Marissa Gingrich showcased her killer instinct. Gingrich hit a clutch baseline jumper with 2:08 left to play before knocking down four free throws to seal things, as the Huskies survived for a 55-50 victory over Hershey (3-3) in a Mid-Penn Keystone Division girls basketball contest on Friday night.
“We needed to make something happen tonight,” Herto said. “This is our gym and I realize that there is no crowd like there normally would be. I sensed in them before the game that they seemed really locked in and we came out and we played lights out. Now to sustain that over a period of time is the next step. If you get someone down, you have to keep them down –and we certainly did not do that tonight.”
Gingrich scored a game-high 21 points in the game and her six points in the fourth quarter were enough to keep the Trojans at bay.
“Down the stretch Marissa Gingrich — she’s a special kid,” Herto said. “We keep trying to encourage her to take over when we get in those situations and her nature is to pass first sometimes, but we need her to be more aggressive and she did that when we needed it. The kids have a lot of confidence in her and in that last minute it was very simple — get the ball to No. 10 and get out of the way and let her make a play or make free throws.”
Mifflin County (3-3) rushed out to a big advantage as 3-pointers were dropping from all over the floor. A pair of threes from Gingrich as well as 3-pointers from Mya Aumiller, Brianna Bodtorf, Kate Knable and Emma Weaver in the first quarter led to a substantial 24-10 lead.
Knable stole a ball at the top of the key and hit a 3-pointer on the other end to give the Huskies a 15-6 lead with 3:17 left in the quarter before Weaver caught a ball at the top of the key and banged home a three, using a strong screen from Emma Yeager.
“That was a great spark to start out like that,” Gingrich said. “They were shocked after the start and we just didn’t let up.”
The Huskies lead continued to swell through the midpoint of the game as Mifflin County pushed its advantage to 40-28 at the half, before it grew to 47-30 with 2:50 left in the third, following a Gingrich steal to set up a bounce pass from Hanna Rittenhouse to Yeager for an easy layup.
Gingrich and Bodtorf played especially well as a 1-2 tandem as Bodtorf differed to teammates as she drew extra attention from the Hershey defense. Bodtorf often made the extra pass and led the Huskies with three assists.
Bodtorf added nine points and nine rebounds, to go along with five steals. Her ability to get to the basket and screen opponents helped free up Gingrich throughout the evening.
“We’ve been playing together for a while and she’s a great roller and screener,” Gingrich said. “We just work great together.”
Things went south quick for Mifflin County down the stretch, as the 17-point lead quickly began to evaporate. A Zoe Carlson feed to Anna Coulter resulted in an easy layup to cut the lead to 48-40 with 4:39 left to play and Coulter continued to get position down low, scoring seven of her 13 points in the paint in the final quarter.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Herto said. “The second half we shot the ball like we were shooting it before this game. In the first half, we shot really well and got ourselves the lead. There were a couple times where I felt like we had them in trouble, we just couldn’t put them away. I felt like we were a bucket or two away from making that happen, but we didn’t do it.
“We knew what (Coulter) was going to do and she still did it,” Herto continued. “That’s how you know you have a good player. She just kept making us pay in that low block. She made it look pretty easy.”
Gingrich hit a clutch bucket and stayed cool at the line, going a perfect 4-for-4 on free throws in the fourth. While it took Gingrich a little time to get back into a rhythm, she hopes that the momentum will carry over moving forward.
“I didn’t shoot great in the first couple days when I came back, but it’s great to have a night like this and get that confidence back up,” Gingrich said. “We will see where it goes from here.”
Herto hopes that the victory will help the Huskies continue on the right path after some ups and downs through the team’s first six games. Mifflin County will return to the court on Tuesday at Palmyra.
“A win is a win, it doesn’t matter how you get it,” Herto said. “I know we had to hold on, but we will learn from it. Really pleased with our team and how they stuck together and were able to stick it out and get the win. It’s a good team win for us. We really needed this one and we need to build on this. We can’t let it be a win and not gain anything from it.”
Mifflin County 55, Hershey 50
Zoe Carlson 6 1-3 14, Anna Coulter 6 1-2 13, Ellie Fasick 4 1-3 9, Julia Zakovitch 4 0-0 8, Mary Cotter 2 0-0 6. Totals: 22 3-8 — 50.
3-point goals: Cotter 2, Carlson.
Did not score: Paige Day, Sophia Speece, India Mayes, Amelia Rogers, Jamie Larkin.
Marissa Gingrich 7 4-4 21, Brianna Bodtorf 3 1-4 9, Kate Knable 3 1-2 8, Mya Aumiller 2 2-2 6, Emma Yeager 1 2-2 4, Emma Weaver 1 0-0 3, Hanna Rittenhouse 0 2-2 2. Totals: 17 12-16 — 55.
3-point goals: Gingrich 3, Aumiller 2, Bodtorf 2, Knable, Weaver.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
MC 24-9-15-7 — 55
HER 10-13-13-14 — 50