MILL HALL - Central Mountain only six games into this season, but it already feels twice as long.
The growing pains continued for this young Wildcat girls basketball squad, falling to rival Jersey Shore, 42-20.
"Well, we knew we were facing a team with much less experience," Jersey Shore head coach Greg Bruce said. "We played down to them a little bit, but once we had a good lead we were able to maintain it. I told the girls I was proud of them. This was the first time we've beaten Central Mountain since I've been here."
Grace Naehu started the scoring for the Lady Bulldogs, putting in the first two buckets and then converted an and-1 for an early 7-2 lead.
After the initial burst of offense, the game slowed down. Leading up to the rivalry, Central Mountain changed its gameplan on defense. Head coach Lindsey Rogers implemented a zone defense and, for awhile at least, it seemed to work.
"I knew Jersey Shore had good post players on the inside. With us having a small lineup I knew it would be tough challenge for us to try to match them up man-to-man," said Rogers. "So, we were hoping to take away their first and second options inside."
The size eventually caught up to the Lady Wildcats. Sara Danley became much more active in the paint once the second and third quarters arrived. Danley scored 10 of 12 points during the 16-minute span, easing the Lady Bulldogs to a comfortable 32-16 lead before the fourth quarter came around.
"My girls just got outplayed and outworked," Rogers said. "At any point during the game, it didn't feel like all five girls wanted to work at the same time. It always felt like there were one or two kids that just were not working together on the court and that's why we got outplayed."
On a more positive note, Mary Monoski continued to be a bright spot for Central Mountain. The sophomore contributed more than half of the Lady Wildcats' points on the evening with 13.
Other than Monoski's fierce play on offense, there wasn't much to speak of for the 'Cats. A lot of the credit can go to the Lady Bulldogs for tying their lowest points allowed of the season, holding CM to 20, on just seven field goals made for the evening.
"The defense played very well," Bruce said. "This win means a lot to the team. They knew coming into the game this was big because we haven't beaten Central Mountain since I've been here. They know this means a lot. Bragging rights, I guess."
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN (20)
Katie Parks 1 0-0 3; Mary Monoski 4 5-5 13; Emily Strouse 1 0-0 2; Alexis Anastos 0 0-0 0; Elaina Eckley 1 0-0 2; Lacey Kitner 0 0-0 0; Grayson McCloy 0 0-0 0 Averie Pringle 0 0-0 0. Totals: 7 5-5 20.
JERSEY SHORE (42)
Mallorie Rell 1 0-0 2; Brook Rozenberg 0 1-2 1; Sara Danley 5 2-4 12; Erin Engle 0 0-0 0; Karley Oeler 1 0-0 2; Courtney Morlock 0 0-0 0; Brianna Stetts 1 0-0 2; Mercedes Boatman 3 0-1 8; Isabella Bubb 1 1-2 3; Paige Packer 2 1-2 5; Grace Naehu 3 1-1 7. Totals: 17 6-12 42.
JS11 10 11 10 - 42
CM2 5 9 4 - 20
3-point goals: Jersey Shore 2 (Mercedes Boatman 2); Central Mountain 1 (Katie Parks)
JV game: Jersey Shore 44, Central Mountain 22.
Records: Jersey Shore 5-2; Central Mountain 0-6. Next Game: Jersey Shore vs. Selinsgrove, Jan. 4; Central Mountain at Mifflin County Holiday Tournament, Dec. 27-28.