While 2014 has started Dr. Masse has yet to let 2013 go. The following is one last look back at 2013's Top Five area girls basketball games.
5. Benton 67, Bucktail 61
Benton was a buzzer-beater from capturing the overall Heartland Conference championship, but Bucktail all-state guard Maria Morgan nearly single-handedly took down the Tigers in a late-season game. Morgan displayed her outstanding all-around game, scoring 41 points, making nine steals and dealing seven assists. Bucktail nearly rallied from a double-digit deficit to win and Morgan and fellow all-stater Justine Seeley combined for more than 70 points.
4. St. John Neumann 47,
South Williamsport 44
These two rivals often play close and exciting games and this was one of their best. South was going for the upset on the road and led by seven in the third quarter before Neumann rallied. The lead changed hands several times in the fourth quarter but Neumann went ahead to stay in the final minute. A few weeks later, the two played another outstanding game with South prevailing, 58-54.
Dr. Masse's Top 5 rankings
1. Warrior Run (8-0)
The Defenders having been taking on some of District 4's top teams and beating them the last two weeks. That trend continued as Warrior Run rallied past Southern Columbia, 43-31, handing the Tigers only their second loss in nine games. The Defenders, off to their best start of the 21st century, have beaten Montoursville, Muncy and Southern teams the last two weeks that are a combined 20-6. Warrior Run tries taking out its toughest opponent yet this week when it faces three-time defending District 4 Class AA champion Mount Carmel. Abby Fisher has had a big season and helped Warrior Run outscore Southern, 23-9 in the fourth quarter Saturday.
2. Muncy (8-1)
Four-year starter Jordan Jones has often played her best basketball in the biggest moments and did it again Saturday at Neumann. After being held to three points in the first three quarters, the 1,000-point scorer had 13 in the fourth and made all nine of her shots from the field and the line as Muncy outscored Neumann, 22-9.
"Jordan this year has truly taken on the senior leadership role," Weaver said. "When we need a basket and we need a stop or something to slow down the other team Jordan is the one who steps up with it."
3. Williamsport (5-3)
The Millionaires have won three straight and already have matched last year's win total, highlighting their improvement. Senior Lydia Whaley has been key to the resurgence and reached double figures for a third straight game in Friday's 50-40 win over Bellefonte. The scoring is much more balanced than a year ago too as Williamsport is showing more depth. Seven different players have scored at least nine points and the team has a solid inside-outside game. The Millionaires have a good test tonight, hosting undefeated Danville.
4. Mansfield (7-2)
The Tigers are off to a great start despite losing more than half of their scoring, rebounding and assists from last year's team. Mansfield captured the Prattsburgh Tournament championship last week, winning two games by 80 combined points. Alysa Davey-Bostic has been instrumental to the team's performance and had a career-high 17 points in the championship win over Allegheny-Limestone. Simone Lichty also is vital to the team's success, providing strong defense and passing.
5. St. John Neumann (7-2)
Sophomores Megan Helminiak continue emerging as quality threats and combined for 18 points against Muncy. Helminiak matched a career-high with 16 points in a 56-40 win over Benton while Gerrity added eight in that win. Both have a lot of upside and are taking some pressure off four-year starters Meghan Trenholm and Emily Sholder.
Player of the week
Ali Hillson, Mansfield
The sophomore guard is a good scorer, but is just as good at facilitating the offense with her passing. Hillson was the Tournament MVP at Prattsburgh, scoring 28 points and dealing 14 assists in the two wins.
Game of the week
Lewisburg at Montoursville
Both teams are hoping to get back into the HAC-II title race Wednesday and both could be dangerous playoff teams if they qualify. Montoursville overcame an 11-point second-half deficit last year on its home court to edge Lewisburg, 34-32.
3. Milton 39, Danville 38
The Black Panthers were a surprise team last year, rallying from an 0-4 start to come within a game of capturing the HAC-I championship. This game against the eventual overall HAC champion served as a microcosm of the season. Milton trailed by double digits in the second half but stormed back and won the game when Katelyn Gensel scored off a last-second putback. It was the second time in a month, the Black Panthers rallied from behind to beat the Ironmen, after doing so 43-40 a few weeks earlier.
2. Loyalsock 44, Montoursville 41
This is the only game among the Top 5 to have taken place this season. This was a thriller from start to finish and was among the best games these long-time rivals have played. In the final two minutes alone, there were three lead changes and four ties. Lexi Marchioni, Marissa Hall and Kayla Gee each drained both ends of 1-and-1s before Loyalsock methodically worked the clock in the final minute, setting up for the last shot. Gee took a pass from Kendall Watkins on the right wing and sank a last-second 3-pointer as Loyalsock handed Montoursville its first loss.
1. Muncy 48,
The stakes were high in this District 4 Class AA quarterfinal, with the winner moving within a victory of the state tournament and the loser going home. The two teams had combined for 33 regular-season wins and the lead changed hands throughout, including several times in the fourth quarter. It also was a contrast in styles, matching Muncy's quickness and outstanding guards against Williamson's talented and tall front line that featured two 6-footers. Gina Paisley's outside shooting and Brianna McLaughlin's five steals kept Muncy close and Jordan Jones put Muncy ahead to stay, hitting both ends of a 1-and-1 with 17 seconds remaining. Muncy went on to reach the state tournament for a third consecutive year.
One will not find Crystal Good among area scoring leaders but that hardly matters. She easily is one of Muncy's most valuable players and is a big reason the Indians have reached states the last three years. She also has been instrumental to Muncy's 8-1 start this season, doing whatever necessary to help out.
Good delivered a performance that symbolized her scholastic career in Saturday's big 52-35 win at St. John Neumann. The senior forward scored 10 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, played fantastic defense and made repeated hustle plays as Muncy took over in the fourth quarter against a fellow HAC-III title contender.
"I don't do the MVP thing but (Saturday) if I had to do an MVP it would have been Crystal Good," Muncy coach Craig Weaver Jr. said. "I tell them all the time it's not about points, it's about what you do on the floor in all areas and I think Crystal played the best game of anybody on our team."
A three-year starter, Good always has played bigger than she is and has displayed a knack for being one of the team's best rebounders despite being just 5-foot-7. Good also has the intangibles and never seems to be outworked. A standout catcher in the spring, the senior brings a hard-nosed mentality to the court and has helped Muncy become a perennial district title contender.
"You always have people that go that extra mile and Crystal will go that extra mile for you along with everybody else on the team," Weaver said. "Her hard work ethic and heart ... I'll take her any day on my team."
South Williamsport senior Jen Jackson is having an outstanding season and it continued Saturday as she scored a career-high 26 points in a 55-32 win over Montgomery. Jackson is averaging 19.4 points per game in her last five games as the Mounties (3-5) have started turning their season around ... Jersey Shore needs just four more wins to reach districts for the first time in a non-open format since 2007 after defeating Selinsgrove, 25-21 Saturday. The Bulldogs won without leading scorer Sara Danley as Grace Naehu had 12 points and nine rebounds while Paige Packer added 10 rebounds and four steals ... Kirsten O'Malley scored a season-high 25 points as Montoursville thumped Hughesville, 58-26 Saturday. Montoursville (5-3) is 5-1 with O'Malley in the lineup ... Whitney Holdren scored 23 points in a convincing 66-42 win over Williamson Saturday. Williamson all-state center Lori Horton, though, still had a huge game, scoring 27 points, grabbing 20 rebounds and blocking eight shots.
Masse may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @docmasse for more high school basketball information.