Lancer defense clamps down in fourth quarter

Maddie Fox knows that if Loyalsock can play excellent on defense and pressure their opponents, it makes it a long day for whoever is playing the Lancers.

You won’t get an easy look at the basket if Loyalsock has its way, and that’s the type of defensive play that Fox and the Lancers take pride in.

Williamsport hung with Loyalsock for the first two quarters and went into the half trailing by only seven points, but the Lancers pulled away in the second half and their defensive pressure was a huge reason why.

Williamsport had 33 turn­overs, Loyalsock swiped away 13 steals and Loyalsock came away with a convincing 71-36 win inside the Magic Dome at Williamsport High School on Tuesday night.

“We play best when we’re pressuring people. When we make them force passes, they can’t handle pressure I guess and throw it away,” Fox said with a laugh. “That’s definitely how we play, so we take pride in that.”

The Millionaires (0-5) struggled shooting in the second half against Loyalsock (3-1). In the third quarter, the Millionaires were just 2 for 10 shooting from the floor and only scored one point in the fourth quarter as the Lancers outscored them, 26-1.

“They came out in the second half and flat out out-hustled us. Loose balls? They got it. Fifty-fifty balls? We didn’t even have a shot at it. They took every 50/50 ball. When they scored 26 and we scored 1 in fourth quarter? Big difference,” Williamsport coach DeMarr Wright said. “If you look at other quarters, it’s a pretty even game and we get outscored 26-1 on fast break layups, trying to feed post, them hustling and stealing basketballs and going down in transition. Just hustle. Just all out hustle.”

The Lancers used a 12-0 run to open the fourth quarter before going on a 14-0 run after Williamsport’s lone point to lead by 35 with 1:13 remaining.

Fox played excellent for Loyalsock, scoring a team-high 19 points. Sam Stopper came up shy of a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. Of those 15 points, 10 of them came in the second half.

“We challenged Sam here at beginning of the third quarter. She’s a key player for us. There’s times where she kind of stays in the back and doesn’t do what she’s capable of doing all the time and when she does, she’s a scary athlete,” Loyalsock coach Curtis Jacobson said. “She’s physical, she’s fast, she’s strong, she can make a perimeter jump shot, she can play down low with anybody. She really is a mismatch for us and she bought in in the second half.”

“I mean early on I wasn’t making that many shots but I knew I had to keep shooting because my team needs me so I said in my head ‘don’t get down on yourself because one missed shot doesn’t mean anything, doesn’t determine rest of game,'” Fox said of her 19-point game.

Summer McNulty came off the bench for Loyalsock and added 13 points and Sarah Van Fleet had 10 and eight rebounds. Both Stopper and Charlotte Neylon also led the team with three steals apiece.

The Millionaires only led four times in the first quarter and trailed all of the second quarter, although did keep it within striking distance and only trailed by one point twice and two points once, but never could shift the momentum with a go-ahead basket.

A steal and layup from midcourt by Neylon gave Loyalsock its first 10-point lead halfway through the third quarter and Loyalsock led by 20 after McNulty hit two free throws with 5:48 to play in the game.

“Kudos to them, I give them credit to what they did. They made us turn the ball over, but my ball shouldn’t have been turned over like that,” Wright said. “Shouldn’t have happened. Still comes down to hustle. They’re hustling and moving and scrambling like they’re supposed to on defense and we’re being lazy on offense. We don’t hop to the ball. Simple things you have to do to play basketball, we just don’t seem to do.”

Jada Whaley was Williamsport’s only player in double figures as she ended with 10 points, but after Whaley hit three big treys in the first quarter, Loyalsock only allowed her to score one point the remainder of the game when she hit a free throw in the second quarter. The talented Williamsport athlete didn’t score in the second half.

“Jada’s a solid player, we give her as much credit as we can,” Fox said. “We came into game knowing she was strong player and knowing we had to shut her down.”

Shelly Floyd proved to be a difference maker under the basket for Williamsport as she led the Millionaires with a team-high 10 rebounds while scoring six points.

Loyalsock (71)

Juliana Cruz 0 0-0 0; Charlotte Neylon 2 2-2 6; Sam Stopper 6 2-3 15; Maddie Fox 6 5-7 19; Sarah Van Fleet 3 4-6 10; Summer McNulty 4 5-6 13; Rhiallie Jessell 2 0-0 4; Anna Burdett 0 0-0 0; Sophia Gardner 2 0-1 4; Maegan Reitz 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 18-25 71.

Williamsport (36)

Jada Whaley 3 1-2 10; Katelyn Wilson 2 0-0 4; Samiyah Little 1 3-6 5; Gabby Thomas 0 7-8 7; Shelly Floyd 3 0-0 6; Fondrea McLain 1 0-0 2; Kalindi Maggs 0 0-0 0; Emily Pardee 1 0-0 2; Zareina Walker 0 0-0 0; Sophia Erb 0 0-0 0; Whitney Felix 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 11-17 36.

Loyalsock 14 17 14 26 — 71

Williamsport 11 13 11 1 — 36

3-point goals: Loyalsock 3 (Fox 2, Stopper 1), Williamsport 3 (Whaley 3).

JV score: Loyalsock, 55-51 OT.

Records: Loyalsock (3-1), Williamsport (0-5). Next game: Southern Columbia at Loyalsock, today; Mifflin County at Williamsport, Friday.