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Loyalsock’s zone press helps Lancers defeat Montoursville in girls basketball

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Montoursville’s Shianne Klemick rises for a shot as Loyalsock’s Grace Baylor defends during Monday’s game at Loyalsock.

With less than 20 seconds remaining on the clock in the first quarter, Montoursville’s Alaina Marchioni found herself with the ball from behind the 3-point line and drained a trey to cut down the deficit against Loyalsock to just four points.

The Lancers came out strong and opened the game on a 10-0 run before Montoursville slowly chipped down to get within four points.

Between quarters, Loyalsock coach Curtis Jacobson made a switch from a man press to a zone press. It was a simple, but extremely effective change that paid dividends.

That sudden pressure caused problems for the Warriors. Montoursville suddenly found itself turning the ball over, and by midway through the second quarter, Montoursville had 15 turnovers.

In the end, that proved to be the difference as Loyalsock’s press helped the Lancers cruise past nearby rival Montoursville, 64-39, on Monday night.

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Loyalsock's Summer McNulty (11) drives the ball down court past Montoursville's Alaina Marchioni in the first quarter.

“I think when game really turned we went to a zone press. They’ve been running it for a couple years, so they know where to be. Anytime you run a zone press there, you change the tempo a little bit. Man you’re kind of running around, but zone you know area you need to be in,” Jacobson said. “They’re comfortable doing that. We’re going to change it up on people all the time. That’s what we do, we live or die with turnovers and creating turnovers. We know we’re going to give up buckets because of that. You play that defense, someone’s open because you’re gonna have two people on the ball. It’s a matter of getting our rotations down.”

“They kind of stepped up, they took it to a new level,” Montoursville coach Jon Weaver said of that defensive pressure. “They cranked up the intensity and we didn’t match the intensity after that. They have a lot of shooters. It’s tough to keep them at bay for a whole game. They’re a good team, they have a bunch of great kids.”

Loyalsock (1-0) quickly built its lead back up and Montoursville (0-2) found itself trailing by double digits late in the second quarter and never cut it back down into single digits.

“I thought our girls competed. It was 22-17, then we had six turnovers in that press and they scored. They finished, and that was huge,” Weaver said. “They went up 13 at the half and we just never got back in. They came out and took it to us in the second half.”

Marchioni drained a 3 that cut it to 25-17 before Loyalsock proceeded to go ahead by as many as 16 points in the second quarter.

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Loyalsock’s Cassie Gee has her shot blocked by Montoursville’s Sydnie Stone during Monday’s game at Loyalsock.

The Lancers were able to spread the ball around. Summer McNulty led the Lancers with 15 points and Jocelyn Cruz came off the bench to add 11. Cassie Gee and Allyia Kennedy scored eight each and Mia Patterson and Natayah Abdul-Hakim both scored seven.

“We know people are going to key on Summer. We know people are going to key on Cassie. They’ve done it for four years now. The nice part about those two players (Patterson and Kennedy), they know when to shoot it, they know when to pass it,” Jacobson said. “They’re not selfish at all. Sometimes I have to get on them to become a little more selfish. We had a pretty decent spread in scoring tonight. … Clearly that makes us tough to defend when that happens, but we have to be consistent with it.”

Patterson was a huge presence in the paint for Loyalsock, leading the Lancers with eight rebounds and prevented Montoursville from getting many second-chance looks. Sophia Gardner also grabbed six boards – five offensive – and the Lancers out-rebounded the Warriors, 30-16.

“Mia’s scrappy. She’s not the biggest player in the gym but if I need a rebound, I wouldn’t bet against her getting it. She’s pretty feisty and attacks the glass very well. … Allyia too, I thought she was very under control. Couple times there she gets the ball and they’re collapsing and she has great kickout passes for threes. Those are unwritten things most people don’t see. … Its those passes and it’s those rebounds. It’s just doing your part.”

Marchioni was key for the Warriors’ offense Monday night and added an outside presence that Weaver admitted the team needs. She hit three 3-pointers and led the team with 11 points. She was the only Warrior in double-figures scoring.

“We had to beg her to shoot for a long time, and now she’s starting to shoot. She pulled the trigger tonight without hesitation. If she hesitates, forget it, but tonight I thought she pulled the trigger and it’s nice when you can take some pressure off,” Weaver said. “They have to come out on her, that makes a difference. If she’s not shooting it, they’re packing it in.”

While Marchioni was the only Warrior in double figures, Montoursville had success offensively from Cohick (8 points), Mackenzie Weaver (7) and Madalyn Adams (6). Weaver led the team with five rebounds, four of which were defensive.

The second half was all Loyalsock.

The Lancers outscored Montoursville in the third quarter, 20-5, and led by 30 at the start of the fourth quarter when Gardner hit 2 of 3 free throws. Mackenzie Cohick scored with 5:36 to play in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 16 points, but that would be the closest Montoursville would make the game in the second half.

Weaver and the Warriors knew that they would be in for a tough contest Monday against an outstanding Loyalsock team that has five starters who can score. It makes it difficult to try to defend a team of that caliber.

“It doesn’t matter who you try to get help on her (McNulty) or overplay one side. They have five studs,” Weaver said. “Anybody who touches the ball can score it. It makes it difficult, they’re a good basketball team.”

MONTOURSVILLE (39)

Alaina Marchioni 3 2-2 11; Shianne Klemick 1 1-2 3; Mackenzie Weaver 2 1-2 7; Mackenzie Cohick 4 0-0 8; Madalyn Adams 2 2-2 6; Sydnie Stone 0 0-0 0; Madison Moll 0 0-1 0; Kenna Mensinger 0 0-0 0; Anna Baylor 1 0-1 2; Madison Labath 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 6-10 39.

LOYALSOCK (64)

Sophia Gardner 1 3- 55; Cassie Gee 3 1-2 8; Summer McNulty 5 3-5 15; Allyia Kennedy 3 1-2 8; Mia Patterson 2 3-5 7; Jocelyn Cruz 4 0-0 11; Grace Baylor 0 0-0 0; Ashlee Andrews 0 1-2 1; Rhandie Jessell 0 0-0 0; Natayah Abdul-Hakim 2 2-2 7; Rylie French 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 14-23 64.

Montoursville 12 11 5 11 – 39

Loyalsock 16 20 20 8 – 64

3-point goals: Montoursville 5 (Marchioni 3, Weaver 2), Loyalsock 7 (Cruz 3, McNulty 2, Kennedy 1, Gee 1, Abdul-Hakim 1).

JV score: Loyalsock, 35-31.

Records: Loyalsock (1-0), Montoursville (0-2).

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