Coming into its district consolation game against Mansfield, the St. John Neumann Knights had all ready accomplished the most any girls basketball team had accomplished in program history. The team featured two 1,000-point scorers, the program's all-time leading scorer, and gone farther in districts than any other girls team in Neumann history.
Now, the team can add two more firsts to that list.
Neumann earned its first district medal and first state playoff berth with a 60-43 win over Mansfield in the District 4 A consolation game Friday night at Montoursville. Neumann will face District 3 champion Steel High next Saturday at a time and place to be determined.
Baylie Gerrity of St. John Neumann shoots as Erin Dempsey of Mansfield defends Friday at Montoursville. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"It feels great," Neumann coach Steve Sholder said of winning the program's first medal. "I was still a little nervous with about three minutes to go, especially when Meghan (Trenholm) got her fourth foul... But it feels so good, we believed in those girls from day one and I don't know that they did entirely although they came together... They understood what they had to do today and you know, we were ready, they were ready, they were prepared, they were ready to play."
All-state candidate, program all-time leading scorer and four-year starter Meghan Trenholm dominated the open court and was constantly in the paint creating havoc as she put together one of the best performances of her career, scoring 30 points, grabbing seven rebound, nine steals and dishing three assists.
"I feel like it was one of my best played games," said Trenholm. "I just know when my team needs me I need to step my game up."
Fellow four-year starter and 1,000 point scorer Emily Sholder also played a good game scoring 13 points with nine steals and three assists.
Trenholm and Sholder have been the leaders of the program the last four years and have helped win four district playoff games. The program hadn't won a District 4 playoff game since 2001, and now they hope to win a state playoff game.
Trenholm and Sholder have had some help, sophomores Baylie Gerrity (5 points, 7 rebounds) and Megan Helminiak (7 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals), have been playing great all season and have helped the Lady Knights reach new heights.
Neumann handed Mansfield its first double-digit loss of the year and nearly forced more turnovers (17) then attempted shots in the first half (18). Neumann put full-court pressure on Mansfield and took the Lady Tigers out of its usual fast-paced game and forced 30 turnovers.
"Our defense has been our calling card for a few years," Neumann coach Steve Sholder said. "And we turned a lot of steals, a lot of turnovers into points. We got the turnovers against Millville, but we didn't convert those, tonight we converted them."
With the loss of three double-digit scorers, Mansfield still managed to win 20 games, a seven win improvement from last year, and win a postseason game for the first time since 2010. And the future looks bright for a team the will return starters Ali Hillson (21 points, 3 rebounds), Kaitlyn Garverick (12 points, 14 rebounds) and Alysa Davey-Bostic (5 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists). But Mansfield will again lose a couple of key starters in Simone Lichty (4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals) and Erin Dempsey (6 rebounds).
But if history tells us anything, the Lady Tigers will again be back.
"We have five really great seniors," said Mansfield coach Jason Dominick. "You know they've come such a long way and they came from a team in junior high that won two basketball games to now winning 20 basketball games. So that shows what they've done and what they mean to our program. It was really nice to see Anna (Harvey) make the shot at the end, Anna's been a part of our program since ninth grade and has really worked hard, really done a great job."
Simone Lichty 1 0-0 2, Kaitlyn Garverick 5 2-4 12, Alysa Davey-Bostic 1 2-2 5, Ali Hillson 7 4-7 21, Erin Dempsey 0 0-1 0, Sara Wolbert 0 0-0 0, Maggie Farer, Anna Harvey 1 0-0 3, Shannon Madigan 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 8-14 43.
Meghan Trenholm 11 7-7 30, Emily Sholder 6 1-6 13, Megan Helminiak 3 0-0 7, Baylie Gerrity 2 1-2 5, Stephanie Fernandez 1 1-2 3, Rachel Danneker 0 2-4 2, Rebecca Helminiak 0 0-0 0, Amanda Lisi 0 0-0 0, Katherine Mertes 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 12-21 60.
Mansfield 9 3 14 17- 43
Neumann 16 15 14 15- 60
3-pointers: Mansfield 5 (Hillson 3, Davey-Bostic, Harvey); Neumann 2 (Trenholm, M. Helminiak)
Records: Mansfield (20-6); Neumann (17-8)
Next game: Neumann vs. Steel-High (Time and place TBA)