It’s a lot to ask a largely inexperienced group of players to hold down the fort to start a season when arguably the team’s best player is out injured. That’s the situation the Elizabethtown Area High School girls basketball team found itself in to kick the 2018-19 season off. The Lady Bears performed admirably given the circumstances, but alas, they’ve started the year off at 1-2.
The team hosted a tip-off tournament in Daubert Gym on Friday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 8, taking on McCaskey in the first round on Friday. Missing senior Marena Lonardi, who suffered a foot injury during a scrimmage against Dallastown on Monday, Dec. 3, the Lady Bears ended up relying on their other seasoned veteran: senior Sydney Pierson, who dominated on offense, finishing with 26 points to lead them to a 53-39 over the Red Tornado.
“Sydney played awesome,” head coach John Myers said. “She played really aggressive and was really looking to attack the basket, and she finished. That’s her career high in points, so I’m really happy for her.”
Elizabethtown largely controlled the pace in the first quarter, closing the period out with a 16-7 advantage. McCaskey kept things close in the second via the three-point shot, tightening the score to 30-20 at the break. From there, the Lady Bears halted every Red Tornado run, keeping the lead until the end.
“We always want to win,” Myers said. “I was really interested to see how everyone was gonna execute and how we would play without Marena, and we played well. I was happy to see how our guards handled it with her out, but she will be welcomed back whenever she’s healthy.”
Freshman Ainsley Raybold had 10 points in her Elizabethtown debut, with 6 coming from behind the arc. Sophomore Emma Blyler chipped in with 7. Junior Malia Taylor led the way on offense for McCaskey, finishing with 14 points. Fellow junior Majenda Myers had 11, hitting 3 3-pointers.
The Lady Bears faced Donegal in the tournament final on Saturday. The Indians, who had previously downed Red Land 51-38 in the first round, overcame an early Elizabethtown lead in the first, finishing on a 7-0 run to take a 16-8 lead into the second. Later, down 20-10, the Lady Bears came to life, shutting Donegal out after the midway point to tie the game at 20-20 at halftime.
The game went back and forth for the majority of the third before the Indians struck again, going on a 7-1 run to grab a 35-27 lead. Elizabethtown briefly trimmed the lead to 4, but Donegal held firm, eventually leaving with a 48-35 victory.
Junior Kiera Baughman caught fire for the Indians, scoring a game-high 26 points. Seniors Summer Steffy and Cheyenne Livelsberger contributed 11 and 9 points, respectively. The latter made the All-Tournament team alongside Baughman and Pierson, who led the Lady Bears in scoring with 12 points. She also pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked 3 shots. Blyler had 7 points once again, also finishing with 5 assists. Sophomore Elise Hassinger scored 6 points and equaled Pierson’s block total.
Unfortunately for Elizabethtown, things came crashing down on Tuesday, Dec. 11, when Solanco came to Daubert Gym. Armed with a 1-2-2 zone defense, the Lady Mules stifled the Lady Bears, forcing multiple turnovers and holding them to just 7 points in the first half, scoring 31 on offense.
Those points largely came from outside the arc; Solanco ultimately finished with 9 3-pointers, with 4 from senior Grace Kreider (16 points) and 3 from seniors Jess Cabrera (14 points). Elizabethtown finally was able to find some room in the fourth, scoring 11 points, but by then, it was too late. The Lady Mules came away with an easy 60-22 win.
Raybold led Elizabethtown in scoring with 7 points, while Blyler had 5. Both hit a 3-pointer each. Freshman Jade Love-Morris had 4 points in the final quarter as well. Pierson was held to just 2 points.
With Lonardi hopefully ready to return to the court, the Lady Bears are scheduled to stay at home on Friday, Dec. 14, against Cedar Crest, followed by their first away outing of the season at Manheim Township on Monday, Dec. 17.