South Williamsport coaches and players view this season as a building one. And Saturday, the Mounties laid what could be quite a foundation.
A team replacing four starters and more than 3,000 career points from last year never buckled after falling behind by 11 midway through the fourth quarter. Instead, it came together and played its best basketball yet.
Jen Jackson scored 20 points, Sarah March added 12, Anna Steer provided some huge plays late and Roxie Keller played outstanding defense as South rallied for a 42-35 win on its home court. The Mounties (2-4, 2-1 HAC-III) outscored Montgomery, 28-7 over the game's final 12 minutes and showed why they should not be written off.
"We were down 11 points and we had one win this season and we were down on ourselves so this win definitely picked us up," said Jackson who recorded a double-double, grabbing 11 rebounds. "We had some mess-ups but we kept our heads high. We're definitely trusting each other more. This game was definitely a growing game for us."
"I knew going in it would take a few games so hopefully this will help out and carry over for next week and give them a lot of confidence," South coach Mike Allison said. "One thing about this group for six games is they haven't given up. It doesn't matter what the score is and how much time is left, they keep playing hard and that got us over the hump."
Keller, who ignited South's swarming second-half defense, scored on a putback to give South its first second-half lead midway through the fourth quarter and Jackson scored on a drive a possession later, putting the Mounties ahead to stay. Montgomery (2-6, 1-2) did not connect on another field goal after Corrine Shaffer hit a jumper with 7:25 remaining and a Steer pass to Jackson made it a three-point game with 2:30 remaining.
Steer made her first big block in the final three minutes moments later and Jackson hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to make it 40-35. Another Steer block led to Jackson hitting March with a beautiful backdoor pass and March converted the layup to clinch the win in the closing seconds.
South brilliantly executed over the game's final 12 minutes, hit 11 of its last 17 shots and received solid contributions from starters and reserves, including Alisha Wein who grabbed six rebounds and played solid defense.
"It's really great when it's a team effort," said March, who scored the game's first six points and tied the game at 32-32 early in the fourth with a pretty reverse layup. "So far this season we haven't gotten our heads down. We just know what we have to do and we keep working at it. We try and pick each other up as a team and just keep going."
South raced out to a 7-0 first-quarter lead but Montgomery responded by playing some of its best basketball this season and led 22-15 at halftime. A Jessica Scampone putback and a Shaffer free throw made it 28-17 midway through the third quarter and it appeared Montgomery was on its way to a big win. The Red Raiders hit 11 of 13 shots at one point, but managed just one field goal over the final 12 minutes.
Shaffer scored 11 points, dealt five assists and added three steals while Katie Scarborough was hot early and scored nine points. But South flipped the script after falling 11 down and trailed by just one entering the fourth quarter. Steer (6 points, 11 rebounds) hit two straight jumpers late in the third and South ended the quarter on an 11-1 run.
"I actually don't look at the score much. I don't look at the clock, I just kind of play," Jackson said. "The one time I looked up it was 28-26 and I think that's when I thought, 'we have to get this. We had to close it out and we did."
"It was within our reach most of the game and at end of the third quarter we put our heads together and we knew what we had to do and we just did it," March said. "Now we have seen that we can come back from a deficit no matter how big it us and it gives our team a lot of confidence."
That is big too with games against Loyalsock, Muncy and Millville coming up this week. At one point, Montgomery had outscored South 28-10 over a 16-minute span. It did not matter. The young Mounties grew up quick and delivered a signature performance.
"That's what it's going to take us to get wins this year," Allison said. "We don't have the superstar and we're missing over 3,000 points of offense but as long as the girls can work together we should be OK and hopefully this game helped."
Corrine Shaffer 4 3-6 11, Katie Scarborough 3 2-4 9, Emily Shnyder 0 0-0 0, Jessica Scampone 1 0-0 2, Sidney Schoch 2 2-3 6, Rachel Hite 1 0-0 2, Dionna Satteson 2 1-1 5, Emily Sampsell 0 0-0 0, Lexi McHenry 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 8-15 35.
Jen Jackson 7 6-10 20, Anna Steer 2 2-2 6, Sarah March 5 2-4 12, Alisha Wein 0 0-0 0, Kalynn Wheeland 1 0-0 2, Roxie Keller 1 0-0 2, Jourdan Boehmer 0 0-0 0, Gabby Burch 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 10-16 42.
Montgomery12 10 7 6-35
South13 2 13 14-42
3-pointers: Montgomery 1 (Scarborough).
Records: South 2-4, 2-1 HAC-III. Montgomery 2-6, 1-2.