MILTON - When Muncy moved up from Class A to AA, many said it could not duplicate its success over the past two seasons. Turns out they were right.
Muncy improved on it.
The move up only hardened Muncy's collective desire and Friday, the Indians made an impressive statement, downing Lewisburg, 41-31, and clinching a third consecutive state tournament berth. After finishing fourth the past two seasons in Class A, Muncy (18-7) took third in a brutal AA field.
"The doubters were still there before tonight because people were still saying we wouldn't do it and that's what we used as our motivation because we love being an underdog," Muncy coach Craig Weaver Jr. said. "We used that as a driving force. When people tell you that you can't, that's when you drive harder and find out what you're made of."
Some strong players make up Muncy. Jordan Jones played a spectacular game, scoring 22 points, grabbing six rebounds and making four steals. Brianna McLaughlin and Gina Paisley complemented Jones at the front of Muncy's defense and sisters Crystal and Charity Good were outstanding inside.
Muncy never trailed, repeatedly fought off Lewisburg second-half runs, was outstanding down the stretch and earned a spot against District 2's champion. That will either be Holy Cross or Dunmore, next Friday at a District 2 site.
"It's where we've been for so long. We're little Muncy and we're the underdogs but I think we've made a little name for ourselves," Jones said. "It's all of us. We just work so hard. I love my team. We work really well as a team and when somebody is not on, someone is picking somebody else up. It's great."
Muncy held Lewisburg (17-9) without a field goal until nearly midway through the second quarter and Crystal Good's buzzer-beating putback made it 19-10 at halftime. The Green Dragons pulled within three after the third quarter and had momentum.
Jones quickly snuffed that out and scored Muncy's first seven fourth-quarter points, two despite two defenders hanging on her in the paint and three more when she swished a long 3-pointer. Lewisburg 1,000-point scorer Maria Kelleher matched Jones basket for basket for a stretch and her 3-point play made it 34-29 midway through the fourth.
The Dragons did not connect on another field goal. Muncy skillfully worked its offense, burned time off the clock and made some key foul shots down the stretch, cementing its status as one of the district's best. The new kids on the block sure can play.
"We want to make a name for ourselves in Double A," Weaver said. "You can definitely seen we've grown as a team because some of the situations out there had they happened earlier in the year they wouldn't have gone quite the way they did. We're just riding it right now and just happy with what we did tonight."
Kelleher scored 12 points in her final scholastic game while fellow senior Lois Lesher had five points, five rebounds and four blocks. That duo helped Lewisburg make nice strides the past two seasons and sophomore Emily Conrad added 12 points.
"This is always the hardest part, especially because we thought we had a team that was good enough to still be playing next week," Lewisburg coach Phil Stamm said. "Maria was a four-year starter and Lois was big for us the last couple years and was a super hard effort player. We're definitely going to miss both of them."
Muncy took it to Lewisburg early as Jones scored seven straight points and gave her team a 9-3 first-quarter lead. The Dragons cut it to one early in the second quarter, but Jones answered with a three and Paisley scored five straight points before Good hit her buzzer-beater as Muncy regained control.
Good gave up inches again inside but grabbed a game-high nine rebounds while adding three steals.
"Everything happens for a reason and it's worked out well," Jones said. "We've definitely grown through the year and it's led us here. It's awesome."
Maria Kelleher 3 4-5 12, Emily Conrad 4 1-2 12, Lois Lesher 2 1-3 5, Kasey Conrad 0 0-0 0, Haley Stanko 0 2-2 2, Lenore Doyle 0 0-0 0, Kirsten Blakeslee 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 8-12 31.
Jordan Jones 8 3-4 22, Brianna McLaughlin 1 3-4 6, Crystal Good 1 2-2 4, Charity Good 1 1-4 3, Gina Paisley 2 1-2 6, Allison Edwards 0 0-0 0, Nikki Scott 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 10-16 41.
Lewisburg 3 7 13 8--31
Muncy 9 10 7 15--41
3-pointers: Lewisburg 5 (E. Conrad 3, Kelleher 2); Muncy 5 (Jones 3, McLaughlin, Paisley).
Records: Muncy 18-7. Lewisburg 17-9.