LOWER ALLEN TOWNSHIP — The Mechanicsburg run that finally put away a game Cedar Cliff squad Friday bore a strong resemblance to everything that came before it.
There was a sticky defense that limited the Colts to single digits in the quarter. There was a rebounding effort that made most of Cedar Cliff’s offensive trips of the one-and-done variety. And there was consistent, determined effort from guard Talia Gilliard, forward Emma Castilla and their Mechanicsburg mates.
While all those things had been present for the first three quarters, they came together in quantity in the fourth, leading unbeaten Mechanicsburg on a 14-0 run that propelled it to a 38-24 victory over Cedar Cliff in a Mid-Penn Keystone girls basketball contest at Cedar Cliff High School.
“We’re very comfortable with that kind of game,” Gilliard said. “That matches our style of play, and we love that we get to play it every night with every team.”
The Wildcats (12-0, 7-0 Keystone), the last unbeaten team in the Mid-Penn, faced a challenge particularly in the first half, when a tough-defending Colts squad forced Mechanicsburg senior Logan Nutt to the bench with two quick fouls and won the battle on the glass. An eight-point second-quarter run by the Wildcats threatened to put distance between the teams, but Cedar Cliff (7-4, 4-2) closed the half on a 9-1 stretch that knotted it at 16-16.
Both teams’ offenses bogged down in the third, with Mechanicsburg sabotaged by seven turnovers and Cedar Cliff hurt by a 1-for-11 performance from the field. That left it a 22-19 Mechanicsburg lead after three, and it looked as if the squads were headed for a tight finish.
Instead of a back-and-forth battle, though, Mechanicsburg took control.
You have free articles remaining.
The Wildcats, their offense flowing better after Nutt’s second-half return, scored the first 14 points of the fourth quarter to break things wide open. Castilla controlled the boards, pulling down six of her 11 rebounds in the final quarter. And Gilliard (16 points, 8 rebounds) pushed the pace on both ends, finally outlasting a Cedar Cliff squad that couldn’t buy a bucket late.
“We couldn’t get a thing to fall,” Cedar Cliff head coach Scott Weyant said. “They play great defense. We had some point-blank shots that rolled off the rim multiple times, second shots, we just couldn’t get anything to fall. And they came down and did what they had to do, made free throws when they had to, and put the game away.”
The run culminated in a pair of Nutt free throws with 1:47 remaining that made it 36-19. The Wildcats went 12-for-16 from the stripe in the second half.
“The good news is that our kids our willing to dig in on the [defensive] end of the floor,” Mechanicsburg head coach Clay McAllister said. “They are willing to dig in, and they’re willing to rebound. I thought we really rebounded well in the second half, and that was key. In the second half, we finished our defense possessions. They didn’t shoot it well, and we got defensive rebounds.”
Gilliard’s 16 points led all scorers, while Castilla added 10 to register a double-double. Julia Hoffman led Cedar Cliff with six points. Natalie Uibel had six rebounds for the Colts.