LOWER ALLEN TWP. — Cedar Cliff can win with style and flash, as the Colts showed Wednesday in the handful of moments when they were able to get out and run in transition.
Far more numerous, though, were the times when a solid Mechanicsburg defense forced Cedar Cliff into running patient half-court sets, waiting for a quality look. That’s when the Colts demonstrated that they are just as happy playing any style of game that ends in a victory.
That patience and versatility helped Cedar Cliff embark on a late first-half run to put some distance between itself and Mechanicsburg, and the Colts rolled to a 44-31 victory in a Mid-Penn Keystone girls basketball game Thursday at Cedar Cliff High School.
“We knew the way we beat them the first time was not any indication of how tonight was going to go,” Cedar Cliff coach Scott Wyant said. “They’re always well coached and play good help-side defense, so I told them that offense-wise, it’s not going to look pretty. You just have to be patient and find the openings when they arrive.”
The win draws the Colts (11-4, 7-2 Keystone) even in the win column with division leaders Lower Dauphin and Bishop McDevitt, each 7-1 in Keystone play.
Mechanicsburg (6-9, 3-6) executed its game plan in the early going, limiting both the number of possessions and the turnovers. The result was a cleanly played but low-scoring affair through the first one-and-a-half quarters, during which time the clubs swapped the lead six times.
The Wildcats held an 11-10 advantage with 5:33 to go in the half after opening the second quarter with back-to-back field goals from Megan Schrass.
“That’s what we have to do against them,” Mechanicsburg coach Clay McAllister said. “We did a good job early in the first half of limiting the possessions and keeping the ball out of their hands on offense.”
The Colts showed why that was imperative over the next two-plus minutes.
They reeled off a 9-0 run, kick-started by a 3-pointer from Emily Esser. She and Rachael Reilly would combine for all nine of the points in the run, which included a steal-and-score by Esser.
Cedar Cliff would end the half with a 19-11 advantage, and three of the field goals in the run would be assisted. That would be the case on eight of the Colts’ first 10 baskets, and six different Cedar Cliff players recorded assists on the night.
“We have very unselfish kids, almost to a fault at times,” Wyant said. “We do that pretty much on a nightly basis. The kids love to get everybody involved and are always looking to make that extra pass.”
Cedar Cliff’s lead ebbed and flowed over the second half, with Mechanicsburg never truly falling out of it until the final minutes.
The Wildcats were still down eight with two minutes remaining in the third quarter, but the Colts outscored them 8-3 over the next five minutes, a stretch capped by a Maddie Sitler three-point play that gave Cedar Cliff a safe 34-21 lead.
Sitler finished with a game-high 12 points, followed by Esser with 11. Jannelle Robinson had seven rebounds. Mechanicsburg was led by Schrass’s 10 points and seven rebounds.