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Snyder’s steal helps lift Spartans past South

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Hughesville's Alex Snyder (3) and Olivia Strother (13) celebrate after their win over South Williamsport at Hughesville on Tuesday.

HUGHESVILLE — Alex Snyder turned the ball over late Tuesday and South Williamsport had a shot at completing a last-second comeback. But in that moment, Snyder did what outstanding athletes always do: She forgot about the previous play and moved on.

Then Snyder made the game’s biggest play.

Snyder stepped in front of the ensuing inbounds pass, made a steal with 5.5 seconds remaining and hit a free throw a second later. Snyder’s steal helped Hughesville win the latest thriller against South, 36-34. Lauren Henry also made a huge late-game steal, Jade Cordrey hit four late foul shots and Olivia Strother scored a game-high 14 points as the Spartans (9-6) snapped a three-game losing streak and made just enough plays to edge a team that is its mirror image.

“I felt like I needed to make up for that mistake and it felt good,” Snyder said. “She got through the screen so I was glad I could grab it.”

South (9-6) had one last chance at tying or winning, but turned the ball over as time expired. Snyder’s defensive gem seemed a fitting end to a game that featured both teams playing stifling defense the entire night. Both erased five-point second-half deficits and Cordrey’s two free throws with 63 seconds remaining put Hughesville ahead to stay, 33-31.

South twice pulled within one, once on a Haley Neidig foul shot and then with 10 seconds left when Claudia Green (11 points, 7 rebounds) scored off an offensive putback. Snyder was called for traveling two seconds later but showcased her toughness and defensive prowess an instant later. Green looked like she had position on the block, but Snyder (6 rebounds, 2 assists) made up the ground and intercepted the ball, making the kind of contribution which makes her such a valuable player.

“She got that steal and she’s a good ball player,” Hughesville coach Craig Weaver Sr. said. “She rebounds well for us and going down the stretch she made a big foul shot.”

This was the latest slugfest South and Hughesville have played in a rivalry defined by ferocious competitors and close games. Five of the last six games in this series have not been decided until the final minute and no team led by more than five last night. South was up 21-16 in the third, Hughesville up 31-26 in the fourth and both playoff contenders took turns making big plays on both ends.

All five Spartans had their fingerprints on the victory, too. Strother scored six straight Spartan fourth-quarter points just like she did in last month’s victory at South. Henry and Snyder made big late-game steals and drained clutch free throws as did Cordrey who scored 13 points and made three steals before fouling out late. Cierra Getz fueled the blanket defense and Henry delivered one of the game’s key sequences when she crept up Richard Sherman-style and stole an inbounds pass before making two foul shots that put Hughesville up 35-32 with 24 seconds remaining.

“We knew when we were coming into it that they wanted revenge,” Snyder said. “We had a slow start but I trust my teammates and we pulled through it.”

“Our defense kept us in it the entire night,” Weaver said. “Their girls battled to the very end, my girls battled. That’s what high school sports are about. Both teams went out and laid it on the line.”

Defense dominated and Hughesville led just 2-1 after the first quarter. Nothing came easy but the action picked up over the final three quarters and South used a 9-0 run to go up 21-16 with three minutes to go in the third quarter when Sydney Bachman (8 points) drilled a 3-pointer. Hughesville pulled within one by the end of the quarter and Strother opened the quarter with four straight points, putting Hughesville up 27-24. Cordrey added two foul shots as Hughesville opened its biggest lead, 31-26, but South came fighting back.

Bachman scored off a drive and Julie Anthony (12 points, 2 steals) connected on a game-tying 3-pointer with 1 minute, 15 seconds remaining as South tied it, 31-31. The Mounties were coming off impressive comeback victories against Southern Columbia and Bloomsburg and nearly did it again.

“Everyone played hard,” South coach Justin Marnon said. “We absolutely knew based on the last several seasons that it would be like this because every single game has been a battle. All you can do is hope this makes you better from playing against a defense that plays in your face like that.”

Neidig ignited South’s stellar defense and did a marvelous job shadowing Cordrey, one of the area’s premier players. Cordrey worked hard and made an impact again and her third-quarter 3-pointer stopped South’s 9-0 run. But only two of Cordrey’s 13 points came when Neidig was defending her in the half-court set as the Mountie senior leader again showed how vital she is to the team’s success.

“Haley is a fighter. She’s been that way for four years,” Marnon said. “We know we can give her a game plan and a task for every opponent and that she will go out and give the good effort and do everything she can to help the team.”

Hughesville 36, South Williamsport 34

SOUTH (34)

Julie Anthony 4 3-4 12, Haley Neidig 0 1-2 1, Claudia Green 2 7-8 11, Sydney Bachman 3 1-2 8, Rachel Stahl 1 0-0 2, Madi Tolomay 0 0-0 0, Piper Minier 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 12-16 34.

HUGHESVILLE (36)

Jade Cordrey 4 4-4 13, Alex Snyder 2 1-3 5, Olivia Strother 4 6-8 14, Lauren Henry 1 2-2 4, Cierra Getz 0 0-0 0, Kayleigh Rooker 0 0-0 0, Hailey Poust 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 13-17 36.

South 1 11 12 10–34

Hughesville 4 10 9 13–36

3-point goals: South 2 (Anthony 1, Bachman 1), Hughesville 1 (Cordrey 1).

Records: Hughesville (9-6, 2-5 HAC-III), South (9-6, 2-5).

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