LEWISTOWN - Going into Monday night's game against perennial powerhouse Harrisburg, the Mifflin County girls basketball team knew that it would have to have its best effort if the Huskies wanted to make team history in the Mifflin County gym.
And play near-perfect ball is what they did, jumping out to a lead of as many as 16 points before holding off a valiant second-half comeback attempt by the experienced Cougars. When the final buzzer blared, Mifflin County picked up its first Mid-Penn Conference basketball victory in a 73-65 thriller.
After starting out 0-2 in Commonwealth Division play, the Huskies opened the game with quiet confidence on both offense and defense, holding the Cougars from the easy penetration inside the lane and offensively slowing the pace and tempo to their advantage, hitting from outside and inside.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
Mifflin County’s Breanna Cline, front, gets a layup over Harrisburg’s Tianna Jackson Monday in Lewistown. Mifflin County won 73-65.
Five of six Mifflin County players finished in double figures with teammates Olivia Halfpenny and Kylee Cassatt leading things, tallying 17 points each.
Rebeka Knable, despite getting in some early foul trouble, hit two clutch triples in the final quarter to finish with 10 while Breanna Cline finished with a double-double, scoring 15 points and pulling down 10 rebounds en route to the victory.
Harrisburg's scoring was just as close as four of the Cougars finished with double-digit performances. Leading all scorers in the contest was guard Tiana Jackson, who was strong inside the key and from beyond three-point range, finishing with a 24-point night.
IF YOU GO
Mifflin County travels to Carlisle on Wednesday.
Center Briana Mack was tough inside collecting 13 while Quencey Hickerson and Jada Sloane finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
"I thought defensively we were strong. I thought we were strong on both ends in the first half.We were working the ball real well and the open person was getting the shot," Mifflin County coach Kevin Kodish said. "We weren't forcing it. The girls found the open player."
Mifflin County came out in the first quarter and took it right to the heart of the Harrisburg defense.
After a foul shot by the Cougars' Jackson, Mifflin County came right back and took the lead for the first time as Williams found herself wide open for the trey. She was automatic.
Mifflin County looked the quicker of the two teams as it used an opportunistic defense that forced numerous turnovers on the Huskies 9-1 run that would follow, making it 12-2 with 4:05 left in the quarter. Picking up buckets in the run were Cassatt (5), Cline (3) and Williams (1).
However, Harrisburg fired back, pulling the game to within nine points as the first quarter ended, 17-8.
Mifflin County continued to keep the Cougars from penetrating the middle as its offense continued to hit the big shots when needed. Defensively, Mifflin County held Harrisburg to an 11-point effort while it tallied 18 in period.
As the intermission approached, Mifflin County had built its lead to 16. Most fans knew that the game was far from over.
In the second half, the Cougars made their corrections and went right at the Husky defense. Harrisburg waisted little time getting its offense back on track, putting up a 5-2 run, chipping into the Mifflin County lead and cutting the deficit to 13, 37-24.
Cassatt put the Huskies back up by 15 as she scored in transition, temporarily stopping the Harrisburg run.
The two would battle to a virtual stalemate the rest of the way through the third quarter as Mifflin County was eight minutes away from the victory, leading 50-39.
Despite a desperate run by the Cougars, the Huskies were clutch at the foul line, hitting 13 of 15 while Knable hit two clutch triples when it looked like the Cougars were going to takeover the tempo.
But the defense and clutch shots were enough to fend off the spunky Cougars while Mifflin County held onto the 73-65 victory and the team's first Mid-Penn victory under its belt.
The Huskies were also successful in the junior varsity contest, defeating Harrisburg 38-33. Leading the way for Mifflin County was Haley Predix with 10.
Mifflin County (3-2, 1-2) heads to Carlisle Wednesday.