LEWISTOWN - The Mifflin County girls basketball team had two new experiences Tuesday night - it played its first game in the Mid-Penn Conference, and it took its first loss of the season.
With the 69-52 loss to Cumberland Valley, Mifflin County got a strong taste of what the Commonwealth Division has to offer. But this taste was not necessarily an indication that the words "Midd-Penn" and "loss" will always go together.
Cumberland Valley, which is predicted to end in either first or second place in the conference, demonstrated some of the best the conference has to offer, as evidenced by the Eagles' 23-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Sentinel photo by MATT?STRICKER
Mifflin County's Kylee Cassatt (4) tries to push a shot under the basket surrounded by Cumberland Valley defenders Meghan Rhoades, left, and Madison Torresin Tuesday in Lewistown.
The game started out fast, with Cumberland Valley showing the Huskies more pressure than they had faced yet this season. And so, with a turnover here and there and a few missed shots by the Huskies, plus Cumberland Valley's quick transition to the score on turnovers, the Huskies quickly found themselves in the hole.
"We got a taste of the conference, Mifflin County coach Kevin Kodish said. "We got that first one out of the way. It's physical, it's fast, and (Jackie Falconer) had 29 points."
Kodish was very accurate to mention Falconer as one of Cumberland Valley's key strengths. With a game-high 29 points - 14 of which were scored in the first quarter - Falconer was a major force behind the Eagles' win.
IF YOU GO
Mifflin County travels to Central Dauphin Friday
Falconer dominated from the paint, in addition to throwing two 3-point goals into the mix, and the Huskies couldn't come up with an answer to her offense.
"Sometimes when you have a great player like that that's over six feet tall and mobile - can handle the ball with both hands - you've first got to try deny it to her, and if she gets it, she's got to have company," Kodish said. "She didn't have enough company. We've got to make her kick it out to somebody else, then we recover back to our man."
Falconer's worst quarter, and possibly Mifflin County's best, was in the second. In this quarter, Mifflin County held Falconer to two points and outscored Cumberland Valley 10-7. This score was crucial, too, as it allowed Mifflin County to go into the half trailing by eight.
Things started rolling for the Huskies late in the second quarter when the Eagles got in foul trouble and Mifflin County's Ashleigh Williams went to the line, hitting both of her one-and-one shots to bring the Huskies within eight. Cumberland Valley then killed the clock before it hit a 2-point field goal with seconds left on the clock, but Williams came back and answered with a 2-point buzzer beater to make the score 30-22 going into the half.
With a bit of momentum behind them, it looked as if the Huskies might be able to keep chipping away at Cumberland Valley's lead. But when the Eagles' Kelly Jekot came out and hit two 3-point goals at the very beginning of the third quarter, the Huskies' chances began to fade, and they were never able to bring it back to the eight-point difference they had going into the beginning of the quarter.
Although Mifflin County took the loss, the team was highlighted by performances from Williams, who finished with 16 points, and Olivia Halfpenny, who lead her team with 19.
"We'd like to have been on the winning side, but obviously they were a very very nice team. A lot of people picked them for first place for the conference," Kodish said.
However, Kodish didn't take Cumberland Valley's strength as an excuse for the loss, and pointed out that with a few adjustments his team could have made for a better turnout.
"We turned the ball over too many times and didn't get back to transition buckets, so there's things to work on offensively and defensively. It's not that we can't do it, we just have to do a better job and fix the mistakes we made," Kodish said.
In the JV game, Mifflin County fell to the Eagles 41-31. Maggie Wilson led the Huskies with 11.
Mifflin County (2-1, 0-1) travels to Central Dauphin on Friday.