O’Malley’s versatility helps propel Warriors to win

Lauren O’Malley grabbed the defensive rebound and raced up court and found Shelby Kurtz under the basket for an easy layup. A few plays later, O’Malley picked off an errant Williamsport pass and drove to the rim drawing the foul.

O’Malley did a little bit of everything, including playing strong defense, as Montoursville defeated crosstown rival Williamsport, 57-23, on Wednesday in Montoursville’s Christmas tournament. This was the first of two games Wednesday night for the Warriors as it defeated Troy, 62-30, in the second game. Williamsport plays Troy in the tournament today.

O’Malley was one of three Warrior’s in double-figures as she scored 10 points and Lexi Marchioni scored a game-high 14 with five rebounds, five steals and two assists. Marlene Bassett added 13 points, five rebounds and three steals.

But O’Malley is “Ms. Do Everything” for Montoursville. She can rebound as well as anyone, handle the ball and set up her teammates like a point guard and she can even step out and hit 3s as she had two last night. With her sister Kirsten, a 1,000-point scorer and 2014 Montoursville graduate, watching from the stands, O’Malley put on a performance that showcased all of her skills against a Class 6A school. The junior scored 10 points to go along with 14 rebounds and four assists as Montoursville avenged its defeat from last year when Williamsport won the tournament championship.

“It comes so natural for her. It doesn’t even seem like she’s pressing that hard. She lets the game come to her and you’ll look and she’ll have two points in the box score and all of a sudden at the end of the game she’ll have double digits,” said Montoursville coach Travis Heap. “She probably did that again tonight. She’s just a force underneath on defense, a match-up problem on offense. I’m glad she’s on my team.”

Her size makes her a major matchup problem and though she spends a lot of time in the paint, she has all the skills of a guard and she can guard multiple positions on the court and she was a major reason why Montoursville forced 25 Williamsport turnovers, including 13 in the first quarter.

Montoursville turned those turnovers into easy points as it led by 24 at the half and its lead grew to 34 midway through the fourth quarter. Montoursville’s 2-2-1 full court defense and its myriad of half court zone defense — a 1-3-1, 2-3 and 3-2 — gave Williamsport problems as it struggled to consistently set up its offense. Gillian Mitchell and Lexi Marchioni combined for six steals at the top of the zone and they made it difficult for cross-court passes.

“I always tell the girls that transition points are always the easiest in basketball so why not strive for them,” Heap said. “They realize that it’s kind of a staple of Lady Warrior basketball is to have good defense and if you wanna get on the varsity court you better be willing to sacrifice and play defense. The girls have bought into that. They create havoc for the other team because they work well together and they’re aggressive.”

Williamsport is a very young team with two freshmen and a sophomore in the starting lineup. Jada Whaley, the sophomore, led Williamsport with eight points and Samiyah Little, a freshman, showed some promise against a polished post player like Bassett. Little finished with nine rebounds and five blocks while making Bassett work for all of her 13 points. With a full varsity season under her belt and another offseason, Little could make a big jump for Williamsport and her and Whaley could be a formidable duo for the next few years.

Montoursville got some younger players experience against a big-school opponent like Williamsport. It was also beneficial as Montoursville had to be back on the court against Troy less than two hours after playing the Millionaires.

“It’s a good game to be able to work on some things. We were slow off the start, it was a little sloppy but we picked it up towards the end,” Heap said. “It was a great game to get some younger players in especially against a bigger school like Williamsport. Get that varsity experience and we kind of had to save our legs for a little bit having two games in one day here.”

Montoursville 57, Williamsport 23

Williamsport (23)

Jada Whaley 4 0-0 8, Emily Pardee 1 0-0 2, Gabby Thomas 2 0-0 4, Halle McCormick 0 0-0 0, Samiyah Little 1 0-2 2, Katelyn Wilson 3 0-0 7, Fondrea McClain 0 0-0 0, Kalindi Maggs 0 0-0 0, Sophia Erb 0 0-0 0, Desiree Aversa 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 0-2 23.

Montoursville (57)

Lexi Marchioni 6 0-0 14, Marlene Bassett 6 1-2 13, Gillian Mitchell 2 1-4 5, Allyse Marchioni 2 2-2 7, Lauren O’Malley 2 4-4 10, Shelby Kurtz 1 0-2 2, Rebecca Reeder 0 0-0 0, Lydia Albert 3 0-0 6, Arianna Whiteman 0 0-0 0, Trisha Shay 0 0-0 0, Emily Ebbert 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 8-14 57.

Williamsport    2 4 10 7- 23

Montoursville    14 14 18 11- 57

3-point goals: Williamsport 1 (Wilson); Montoursville 5 (L. Marchioni 2, O’Malley 2, A. Marchioni)

Montoursville 62, Troy 30

Troy (30)

Morgan Gentile 5 3-3 15; Roxanne Kingsley 1 0-0 2; Madison McGloghan 1 0-0 2; Carla Proto 3 0-0 6; Sam Gentile 1 3-6 5. Totals 11 6-9 30.

Montoursville (62)

Lauren O’Malley 7 3-4 18; Lexi Marchioni 8 2-2 21; Allyse Marchioni 2 0-1 4; Rebecca Reeder 2 0-0 4; Lydia Albert 1 0-2 2; Marlene Bassett 5 3-4 13. Totals 25 8-13 62.

Troy     7 6 8 9 — 30

Montoursville     17 21 18 6 –62

3-point goals: Troy 2 (Morgan Gentile), Montoursville 4 (Alexis Marchioni 3, Lauren O’Malley 1).

Records: Montoursville (4-0). Next game: Loyalsock at Montoursville, Wednesday, 7 p.m.