SILVER SPRING TWP. — Infused with confidence and powered by momentum, a young Cumberland Valley squad had a signature victory within its sights during Friday’s third quarter.
The catch for the Eagles was that they still had a quarter and half to play against a veteran Harrisburg club that wasn’t going to be knocked out by one run.
Unfazed by CV’s big shot, point guard Ahmya Woodyard, forward Dajahnae Brannon and rest of the Cougars showed their mettle down the stretch, using their own fourth quarter run as a springboard to a 50-37 victory over the Eagles in a Mid-Penn Commonwealth girls basketball matchup at Cumberland Valley’s Dome Gym.
Woodyard and Brannon, an outside-inside combo that ultimately bested a game CV defense, combined for 40 points for the division-leading Cougars.
“We were pleased with the effort,” CV coach Bill Wolf said. “For three quarters we were right there. I think what happened was their experience, and our inexperience, showed as we went into the fourth quarter. They have a very good team, and we’re still kind of a work in progress. All in all, it was a good effort by the girls.”
CV’s second half push happened abruptly, coming as the Eagles trailed 24-19 a little less than 90 seconds into the third. The run was ignited by a Julie Jekot 3-pointer, a bucket that made it a one-possession game and injected the Eagles with some urgency. They drove to the hoop on the next three possessions, all of them resulting in baskets — two field goals by Jekot and a 3-point play by Samantha Murphy.
It added up to a 9-0 run for the Eagles, giving them a 28-24 advantage. They had not led since the five-minute mark of the second quarter.
“We did encourage them to be aggressive and take it to the basket,” Wolf said. “We wanted to try to get to the foul line. We were relying more on the outside shot, and you’re not getting fouled there. We wanted to try to get to the foul line and get some of their girls in foul trouble.”
Harrisburg steadied itself after that, with a Woodyard bucket stopping the run. The Eagles still led 32-28 with a little more than two minutes to go in the frame when the Cougars turned up the defensive pressure. That’s when the tide started to turn and Harrisburg ended the quarter with four straight points.
The Cougar run continued in earnest in the fourth, with Harrisburg’s defense at the center of it all. A 3-pointer by Driaunna McCollough started things and then Woodyard and Brannon followed with transition buckets off turnovers. The Cougars’ total run, spanning the two quarters, reached 13-0 and with 3:55 to go they had a 41-32 lead that they would not relinquish.
“We talked about just playing disciplined and finishing,” Harrisburg coach Dwan Lee said. “Regardless of how young they are, they have championship pedigree. They’re going to fight. We always have battle with them. We just had to stay consistent. Even when we struggled offensively, the defense was always there.”
Brannon finished the game with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Woodyard had 19 points and seven assists. CV was led by Jekot’s 11 points and eight rebounds and Abbie Miller’s 10 points and seven rebounds.