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Muncy’s Copeland has big 4th-quarter impact in Muncy win

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Muncy’s Sasha McMonigle drives to the basket as Montgomery’s Megan Moser defends during Wednesday’s game at Muncy.

MUNCY — Nearly every time Kaitlyn Copeland ran or jumped the previous few months, she felt stinging pain. The Muncy senior underwent foot surgery as the season approached and did not miss a game, but missed feeling like herself.

Wednesday night, Copeland felt free and healthy again. She was the first name brought up during a postgame gathering outside the locker room and those assembled shared the same sentiment.

“We said, ‘Well, Kate is back,'” Muncy coach Ed Rogers said. “That’s the Kaitlyn we all know and remember.”

Copeland put together a memorable fourth-quarter performance against rival Montgomery, hitting a crucial putback that ignited a game-clinching spurt, making three steals and adding an assist as Muncy held off pesky Montgomery, 43-32. Aleaha Bigelow delivered a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds and Muncy won for the fourth time in five games. Copeland provided the closing punch the Indians needed and showed why she can be quite a weapon moving forward.

Muncy (6-4) has improved its win total in each of the past three seasons and reached the District 4 Class AA semifinals last year. Not coincidentally, Copeland has played a major role and started last year. Rogers has picked his spots inserting Copeland as she works back from surgery, but did not hesitate using her when Montgomery cut a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to 10 with five minutes remaining. Copeland immediately made an impact, grabbing an offensive rebound and banking in a shot which ignited a 6-0 run. She set up the next four points with steals and added two rebounds in the next two minutes.

She might not light up the scoreboard, but Copeland heavily influences games. She showed why with that brilliant burst.

“Usually when I do things like that it would hurt, but now I feel like I can do more and provide more to the team,” Copeland said. “Points really don’t matter to me. It’s just making plays that matters and that’s what I like to do.”

“There’s three steals, an assist, a putback and all the sudden we’re moving,” Rogers said. “I’m happy to have her. The next half of the year is going to be a lot better because of her. Those kind of players are invaluable. She’s a tough girl.”

Montgomery (4-4) is becoming a tough team and already is a win from matching last year’s total. The Red Raiders turned a 13-point second-quarter deficit into a 51-43 win against Muncy last season and looked like they might do so again, pulling within seven by halftime after trailing 24-11 midway through the second quarter. Montgomery kept hanging around and looked like it had one more run in it before Copeland helped slam the door.

Montgomery forward Riley Fry played a strong game, scoring a game-high 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Jessica Umpstead ran the offense well and had five assists, and tenacious Nita Imeri pulled down eight rebounds. Saige Whipple scored four consecutive fourth-quarter points and both she and Kara Hahn had six rebounds.

Muncy never trailed and built a 17-7 first-quarter lead as Bigelow dominated, scoring nine points and making five steals. The junior forward did not start playing organized basketball until last year, but keeps improving and had a double-double by the third quarter. She also sparked a defense that surrendered just 11 field goals and forced 24 turnovers during the first three quarters.

“I told her she was the only reason we didn’t get out of the press. In the first half, 90 percent of their points were from breaking the press and fortunately we scored more because of the press than we gave up so we stayed with it,” Rogers said. “She asked what adjustments she needed to make and I said you don’t have to make any, just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Montgomery scored the second-quarter’s final six points, making it 24-17 at halftime. The Raiders had two close shots early in the third but both missed and Muncy scored the next four points. Montgomery twice made it an eight-point game but never pulled closer and Muncy scored the last four points of the quarter to take a 35-21 lead entering the fourth.

Muncy was not at its best last night, but still defeated an emerging team by 11 points. It might not have been the prettiest performance but it also is the sign of a good team when it can win those types of games. Even better for Muncy, it did so with its leading scorers being contained.

Sophomore Bell Hitesman was tough inside, scoring 11 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Fellow sophomore Bella Fave made six steals, added eight rebounds and consistently disrupted Montgomery’s second-half offense. All five starters have produced double-digit games this season and defenses are having a hard time focusing on one or two players. Adding Copeland to the mix now only makes Muncy more dangerous.

“I felt like we were on a downslide and now we’re moving back up,” Copeland said. “I feel like we’re getting to the point where everything is coming into place.”

MONTGOMERY (32)

Riley Fry 6 6-8 18, Jessica Umpstead 0 2-2 2, Saige Whipple 2 0-0 4, Nita Imeri 1 0-0 2, Megan Moser 0 0-0 0, Abby Stryker 1 2-4 4, Kara Hahn 1 0-0 2, Faith Persing 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 10-14 32.

MUNCY (43)

Sasha McMonigle 2 1-2 6, Kassidi Lenhart 3 0-0 6, Aleaha Bigelow 6 1-4 13, Bella Fave 2 0-0 5, Bell Hitesman 5 1-4 11, Kaitlyn Copeland 1 0-0 2, Jen Frederick 0 0-0 0, Rebecca Dgien 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 3-10 43.

Montgomery 7 10 4 11–32

Muncy 17 7 11 8–43

3-pointers: Muncy 2 (McMonigle, Fave).

Records: Muncy 6-4, 2-1 Mid-Penn. Montgomery 4-4, 0-3.

JV Score: Muncy 38-25.

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