A look at the year’s best games
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @docmasse for more high school basketball information.