LOWER PAXTON TWP. — Lower Dauphin’s defense is good. Quite good.
There was no doubting that Tuesday night at CD East High School, where the Falcons dismantled a typically potent Trinity offense in a 43-25 win in the Mid-Penn Conference semifinals.
Lower Dauphin (21-1), the Mid-Penn Keystone champion, is allowing a touch more than 30 points per game this season. The Shamrocks (17-2), who went undefeated in Capital Division play, never truly sniffed that number.
They got some traction in the first quarter, going toe-to-toe with the Falcons before a corner 3-pointer before the buzzer made it 11-8 LD after one frame. But that was the best Trinity’s offense looked all night.
The Shamrocks were held to 11-of-33 shooting, including 7-of-22 in the first half. And they managed just a trey in the fourth quarter. The Falcons sniffed out everything over a nearly eight-minute stretch from the late third quarter until about two minutes left in the game when Alana Boyer knocked down Trinity’s lone triple of the game.
“Our game plan was to try to take away the inside, do the best we could on the perimeter. And they didn’t shoot the ball well, which helps,” LD coach Bob Heusser said. “I thought the key for us was stopping their transition — we did a great job on that — and then, of course, rebounding the ball off their misses. And if they got a couple inside plays, they got a couple.”
Trinity got a couple in the paint, but it was only a couple.
The junior bigs, Sunshine McCrae (14.2 points per game entering Tuesday) and Kassidy Ingram (12.1), were held to a combined 10 points. And just two of those came after halftime. Ingram and Ava Stevenson led Trinity with eight points each.
Sixteen turnovers, unofficially, also stalled the ‘Rocks.
“Lower Dauphin is a great team,” Trinity coach Kristi Britten said. “They are disciplined and well-coached. We did not dig ourselves out of a little disappointment. The girls got down and then it just snowballed from there. They didn’t settle down, didn’t pick each other up. It just didn’t happen.”
Guard Amber Schweiger was efficient and ruthless for LD on offense. The senior made more than 50 percent of her shots from the field and finished 7-of-8 from the free-throw line, leading all scorers with 15 points.
Her cuts flustered Trinity’s usually sound defense, leading on multiple occasions to fouls in the paint. Freshman Jaylin Moore was tasked with defending her much of the game, but multiple Shamrocks defenders were victimized by Schweiger.
“She’s a good player, she’s a solid player,” Heusser said. “She can get a shot off if she needs to. She’s improved her shooting, which is important for us. But she’s also our floor general, and our energetic leader, she’s a defender, she’ll take charges — she does the whole thing.”
Trinity held early leads in the first quarter as the teams traded buckets, but Schweiger made her first four freebies to take an 8-6 lead. Pauliina Malinen drilled a corner 3 in the closing seconds to make it 11-8 a few minutes later, taking the lead for good.
Lower Dauphin, the No. 1 seed in the District 3 Class 5A tournament, steadily pushed the advantage further throughout the rest of the game, never going on a run of more than four points until the third quarter.
Up 31-22 late in the frame, Malinen splashed a 3 and made a lay-up. It sparked a 13-0 run that wasn’t so much about the Falcons’ ability to score in bunches as it was how suffocating the defense was with Trinity struggling with confidence.
McCrae had 10 rebounds in the loss.
Trinity now preps for the District 3 Class 3A tournament, where it is the No. 1 seed. It will face the winner of No. 5 Hanover and No. 4 Pequea Valley in the semifinals Feb. 23 at West York High School.
Lower Dauphin will take on Harrisburg, which stomped Shippensburg 66-28 in the other semi, in Thursday’s conference championship.
Greyhounds routed by Cougars
Harrisburg scored more points in the first half (36), than Shippensburg scored in the game (28), running away with a 66-28 win to set up Thursday's title game with Lower Dauphin at a site to be determined.
Emelie Nonemaker led the Greyhounds with 12 points in the loss, while leading scorer Mariah Martin was held to just five.
Dajahnae Brannon rolled to 24 points for the Cougars, who also got 11 from Ahmya Woodyard and 10 from Briaunna McCollough.
No. 11 Ship (15-8) now gets a week off before facing No. 6 Spring Grove (15-7) in the District 3 Class 5A playoffs.