Scoring proved a Herculean task for three quarters Wednesday night as Montoursville scored just 18 points.
Something changed, though, in the fourth quarter. The Warriors kept finding Kelsey Stine inside. Stine started taking over, keyed a big run and helped Montoursville pull away. She became the difference maker.
Stine scored all seven of her points in the fourth quarter, while grabbing four of her five rebounds as Montoursville equaled its scoring output from the first three quarters combined and defeated visiting Lewisburg, 36-28. The Warriors (6-3, 2-2 HAC-II) won for the fourth time in five games and might have found a formula to more future success.
"When Kelsey goes we have a tendency to take it to a different pace. She really does pick things up for us," Montoursville coach Kevin Kurtz said. "We get that ball inside and she does a really good job with the drop step and taking the ball to the basket. She really did get us going in that right direction in the fourth quarter."
The game was tied at 18 after three quarters and Lewisburg led 21-20 with 5 minutes, 30 seconds remaining before Lexi Marchioni found Stine inside. The junior converted a 3-point play and Montoursville never trailed again. That play triggered a 15-1 run as Montoursville broke open a close game and built a 35-22 lead with two minutes left.
Stine followed with a terrific pass to a cutting Marissa Hall on the ensuing possession as Montoursville started warming up. She forced a turnover on Lewisburg's ensuing possession before grabbing a rebound on the next one. Stine missed just one of four shots from the field and the line in the fourth quarter and the Warriors took control in all facets.
"It felt good to help out. It felt good to come through under pressure," Stine said. "We knew we had to come up strong in the fourth quarter. We had the mindset that we need to have this game."
"If you look at the nine games we've played so far when Kelsey has scored 10 points or so and has been and getting rebounds we're going to be in every game that happens," Kurtz said. "We know the importance of the role she plays and that showed in the fourth quarter."
And once Stine heated up, so did the entire team. Montoursville made 6 of 7 shots during its game-breaking run while continuing to play sensational defense. Everybody was getting involved, too. Five different players scored during the run, including McKenzie Ruffing who scored on a pretty baby hook shot while making her third steal seconds later.
Lewisburg twin sisters Kasey and Emily Conrad played fantastic defense against Montoursville point guard Kirsten O'Malley, holding her to 10 points, nine below her season average. Montoursville showed in that fourth quarter, though, how dangerous it can be even if teams are so closely guarding O'Malley. The junior reached double figures for a seventh straight game and added a game-high nine rebounds.
Marchioni, only a freshman, continued coming up big. The quick guard scored three points and added an assist during the 15-1 run and added two steals. She was just one of several Warriors who bottled up Lewisburg's offense and held the Dragons to 10 or fewer points in all four quarters.
"She puts 100 percent in and has really helped us a lot," Stine said. "I feel like our team is like that. When the intensity picks up everybody gets fired up and we're all better off."
Lewisburg and Montoursville exchanged leads five times in the second quarter and nobody led by more than three points until the fourth quarter. Emily Conrad played a nice game for Lewisburg, scoring a game-high 14 points and hitting three 3-pointers. Her third 3-pointer with 6:30 remaining gave Lewisburg its last lead, 21-20.
The Dragons matched Montoursville's defensive intensity and held the Warriors to seven field goals in the first three quarters. When the pressure was highest, though, Montoursville elevated its performance. Doing so on a night it struggled offensively could be encouraging moving forward.
"We have a lot to work on but these are the games that show us what we need to work on," Stine said. "That's a positive that we we won and that we know we can get better from here."
Emily Conrad 5 1-2 14, Kasey Conrad 1 0-0 2, Akilah McFadden 0 0-0 0, Lenore Doyle 1 2-2 5, Haley Stanko 0 0-0 0, Kirsten Blakeslee 2 1-2 5, Emily Aukerman 0 0-0 0, Rachel Herman 0 2-2 2. Totals 9 6-8 28.
Kirsten O'Malley 4 2-3 10, Marissa Hall 1 0-2 2, Lexi Marchioni 3 3-3 9, McKenzie Ruffing 2 3-6 7, Kelsey Stine 2 2-3 6, Alexis Weisser 0 0-0 0, Nicole Weisser 0 0-0 0, Marissa Folk 1 0-0 2, Gillian Mitchell 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 10-17 36.
Lewisburg5 7 6 10-28
Montoursville4 8 6 18-36
3-pointers: Lewisburg 4 (E. Conrad 3, Doyle).
Records: Montoursville 6-3, 2-2 HAC-II. Lewisburg 4-6, 0-4.
JV Score: Montoursville 23-19.