Second-half surge propels Lancer girls
SUNBURY — Summer McNulty provided a perfect bounce pass to Mia Patterson in stride down the lane for an easy layup. Then another. Then Patterson returned the favor and the Loyalsock girls were in business with a 12-point lead to end the third quarter.
It was the vision of the Lancers’ offense that blew open the flood gates of a tied game in the second half for a 46-33 Hartland Athletic Conference semifinal win over Central Columbia on Thursday night at the Shikellamy Field House.
The win propelled the Lancers to their second title game in three years. Loyalsock (21-2) will play against Danville, a 49-23 winner over Bloomsburg, tonight at 6 p.m.
Cassie Gee led the Lancers with 13 points, Patterson scored 12 as Sophia Gardner had nine and McNulty finished with eight points. After a slow six-point second period, the Lancers used the halftime break to refresh and held the Blue Jays to just 10 second-half points.
“We were playing like our season was on the line and we were playing tight,” McNulty said. “Then coach Jacobson gave us a little pep talk and came out with the mentality that it was a new ball game.”
Loyalsock and Central Columbia battled through six lead changes in the first quarter before Patterson floated in a layup and hit the foul shot to tie the game at 9 before the Lancers went on a 6-1 run to end the opening frame. Gee added another layup and Gardner poked the ball away from Lauren Bull for a quick two and Patterson tipped in a putback rebound off Karyn Saar’s layup.
Although the Lancers were ahead, Central Columbia used its size from Allison Groshek to contest the missed shots and out-rebound Loyalsock in the half. The Blue Jays battled back to tie the game at 21 just before halftime. Ellie Rowe led the Central Columbia offense scoring nine of the 11 second-quarter points, finding the soft spot in the Lancers’ defense and calling for the ball when she saw an opening.
“(Central Columbia) just out-worked us in the paint. The things that they were beating us on were the hustle plays,” Jacobson said. “We talked to them at halftime and the girls responded well.”
The Lancers used halftime to reset and refocus on getting back to playing it style.
Gardner rocketed with two quick layups after a half-court steal, McNulty added a driving layup and Allyia Kennedy grabbed an offensive rebound to cap an 8-0 run out of the break which Central never recovered.
“In the four years that I’ve been here, we are always out-working and out-hustling the other team. We did that in the second half and played really hard,” Jacobson said.
After a Rowe jumper to slow the Loyalsock scoring, the Lancers started another 8-2 run to end the third quarter with McNulty and Patterson seeing each other on the floor, it was all the separation Loyalsock needed.
“We have been playing together since elementary,” McNulty said about the chemistry she and Patterson had to give Loyalsock its final lead. “We all read the floor really well because we have been playing so long. I was just trying to find my teammates and it happened to be Mia who started the runs for us.”
By limiting the Blue Jays’ second-chance points and a 12-point lead to work with, the Lancers were able to slow down the Blue Jay offense, limiting them to six points in the final quarter and playing their aggressive style to advance to the championship game.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere especially with the boys’ teams playing afterwards. It’s going to feel like a playoff atmosphere and it is going to be fun,” McNulty said.
Central Columbia 33
(HAC TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL)
Sophia Gardner 3 0-0 9; Cassie Gee 4 2-2 13; Summer McNulty 4 0-0 8; Anna Burdett 0 0-2 0; Madison Jean 0 0-1 0; Allyia Kennedy 2 0-2 4; Mia Patterson 5 2-4 12. Totals 19 4-11 46.
CENTRAL COLUMBIA (33)
Alyssa Boyd 1 0-0 2; Ellie Rowe 6 0-1 15; Lauren Bull 3 1-2 7; Allison Groshek 0 2-4 2; Alyx Flick 3 1-2 7. Totals 13 4-9 33.
Loyalsock 15 6 16 9 — 46
Central Columbia 10 11 4 8 — 33
3-point goals: Loyalsock 4 (Gee 3, Gardner 1), Central Columbia 3 (Rowe 3).
Records: Loyalsock (21-2). Next game: PHAC tournament final, Loyalsock vs. Danville at Shikellamy, today 6 p.m.