MONTGOMERY - A minute remained and victory was secure, but Sydney Schoch still went diving across the floor after a loose ball. As the final seven seconds ticked away, the Montgomery guard hounded a Hughesville player and would not let her bring the ball past midcourt.
Winning or losing, seconds remaining or the quarter just starting, it does not matter. Schoch knows only one way to play and that is all-out. Monday night that hustle, along with her talent, helped her team earn its first win.
Schoch scored a career-high 10 points and played well in all facets while hitting a huge fourth-quarter jumper as Montgomery defeated Hughesville, 49-32. Schoch is one of only two Montgomery seniors and she showed last night that she wants to make this final season a memorable one.
Kaylie Harer (12) of Montgomery fights for a loose ball with Hughesville’s Hannah James as Hughesville’s Gabby Gavitt, back, looks on. In back left is Hughesville’s Megan Shaner. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"She is all work and hustle," Montgomery coach Craig Weaver said. "That is how she plays all the time and she was big tonight."
"I feel more confident but it all really comes down to ball-handling and court awareness," Schoch said. "There's definitely room for improvement and we have to keep working hard but I'm excited for the season."
Hughesville (1-3) made a furious third-quarter rally, cutting a 21-point deficit to 10 entering the final eight minutes. The score remained 38-28 for the fourth quarter's first three minutes and Montgomery was struggling when Schoch took an Emily Sampsell pass near the foul line. Schoch then swished the jumper that changed everything. The Raiders ended the game on an 11-4 run and Hughesville never threatened again.
It was just the type of play Montgomery needs from one of its team leaders. Really, though, that was a bonus. Schoch, who made five straight shots between the second and fourth quarters, led by example all night, grabbing four rebounds, dealing three assists, playing stifling defense and making several hustle players that created turnovers.
"We definitely have been working on defense," Schoch said. "You have to be in shape and get your feet moving and then your defense will come and then the offense will feed off that.
"That was a huge shot she hit in the fourth quarter," Weaver said. "That was the turning point because they had a lot of momentum and that seemed to take the wind out of their sails a little bit."
Montgomery played an outstanding first half, taking a 26-7 lead just two minutes into the second quarter. The Raiders hit five straight shots at one point and excelled in all areas. Point guard Corrine Shaffer scored seven of her game-high 13 points during one stretch and finished with four assists while hitting six straight free throws that clinched the win late. Kaylie Harer was huge off the bench, especially when Shaffer was in foul trouble, and scored five first-quarter points when Montgomery took a 15-point lead.
The breakout player of the night was junior forward Jessica Scampone. Despite giving up inches inside, Scampone was a force, grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds while wreaking havoc on defense. She scored on a buzzer-beating putback to end the first quarter, had six points, made five steals and blocked three shots.
"She works so hard in practice and it translates to the game," Weaver said. "When you put in the time and the effort and play as hard as she does that's what happens."
Hughesville had its chances, but dug itself a 19-point halftime hole after losing 18 first-half turnovers and making just 5 of 19 foul shots. Schoch hit a jumper that made it 32-11 just 10 seconds into the third quarter but when all hope appeared lost, the Spartans started playing their best basketball. Hughesville ended the third quarter on a 17-6 run, hitting 7 of 13 shots during that time, and trailed just 38-28 entering the fourth quarter.
The Spartans had six chances to cut that deficit to single digits but were unable to do so. Still, a team that is fairly young showed why it could be a sleeper and why the program's progress is trending upward.
"We definitely take pride in it. There was nobody who quit. Every girl on the bench played and every one of them gave me everything they had," Hughesville coach Ed Rogers said. "Not to take a silver lining in losing, but if there ever was it was tonight because we played much better over the last three quarters."
Hannah James grabbed 10 rebounds, while Gabby Gavitt helped ignite the comeback and had a team-high seven points along with eight rebounds. She also hit three straight third-quarter shots while Kierra Croucher and Allison Russell combined for 10 rebounds.
Kierra Croucher 0 2-12 2, Megan Shaner 0 4-6 4, Hannah James 1 0-1 2, Gabby Gavitt 3 1-3 7, Courtney Wood 0 3-6 3, Trista Rathmell 0 0-0 0, Oliva Dudek 1 1-2 3, Kaitlyn Peterman 0 0-0 0, Carly Rogers 3 1-5 7, Lexi Avery 0 0-0 0, Brianna Stroup 0 0-0 0, Allison Russell 2 0-0 4. Totals 10 12-35 32.
Corrine Shaffer 2 8-10 13, Katie Scarborough 3 1-2 7, Emily Shnyder 3 0-0 6, Rachel Hite 0 0-0 0, Jessica Scampone 3 0-1 6, Sydney Schoch 5 0-1 10, Kaylie Harer 2 1-2 5, Dionna Satteson 0 0-0 0, Emily Sampsell 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 10-16 49.
Hughesville5 6 17 4-32
Montgomery20 10 8 11-49
3-pointers: Montgomery 1 (Shaffer).
Records: Montgomery 1-2. Hughesville 1-3.
JV Score: Montgomery 36-24.