Rally lifts UDA to win
Published: February 28, 2013
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LINGLESTOWN - Rich Hoffman chuckled when he said postgame that he hoped in the locker room at halftime that his Upper Dauphin girls' basketball squad could slice its deficit in half in the third quarter.
In hindsight, the chuckle was appropriate as the Trojans gave their coach far more than for which he'd bargained.
Cranking up its full-court defense in the second half, Upper Dauphin not only erased a 13-point deficit against host Harrisburg Christian but created a lead heading into the fourth. The lead and full-steam of momentum helped boost the 12th-seeded Trojans to a 66-54 victory in the first round of the District 3 Class A playoffs on February 20.
Upper Dauphin (10-13) advanced to face No. 4 Mount Calvary (17-6) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, February 23 in the quarterfinals. (See story at right.)
The Trojans fell behind 24-11 after a quarter as Macaela Campbell torched the nets with transition buckets for the No. 5 Knights (15-8). Campbell scored 12 of her game-high 19 points in the opening frame.
Upper Dauphin went just 5-of-20 from the floor in the first quarter after hitting its first two shots for a 5-0 lead. The Trojans didn't fare much better in the second, turning in a 5-for-22 performance and continued to pick up fouls. Campbell's hot hand and Upper Dauphin's poor shooting helped the Knights build a 34-21 halftime edge.
"That's how we lost games this year. We lost some games this year just because we didn't hit shots against a zone," Hoffman said. "We knew we were getting zone tonight. We worked against it for two days. The kids were just confident. I can tell when they're confident. Despite the frustrations of the first half, they were still confident. I was hoping to cut the lead in half in the third quarter."
The Trojans started making more shots, but that didn't key Upper Dauphin's third-quarter surge.
After forcing 13 turnovers in the first half, the Trojans went to a diamond-and-one press. That proved to be the turning point.
"We saw them play a couple of times, and I didn't think they handled Mount Calvary's press real well," Hoffman said. "We'd been doing it the second half of the year. We'd been doing it pretty well. As long as we could keep No. 10 from going with her left hand, we'd be in pretty good shape."
Harrisburg Christian committed 10 turnovers in the third quarter as McKenzie Miller, who finished with a team-high 17 points, took Campbell out of the equation.
"Give a lot of credit to McKenzie Miller," Hoffman said. "McKenzie Miller was on her man, and the press â¦ they weren't getting good shots anymore."
Miller said the full-court pressure and locker room talk helped turn the tide.
"Our locker room talk definitely boosted our heads up," Miller said. "We knew what we could do, what we were doing and what we needed to change. We definitely put our heads in the game.Â
Krysta Wynn and Taylor Brown helped the surge defensively, while Aleena Mace helped the offense flow in the post in the absence of Katie Schwenk, who was in foul trouble seemingly from the opening tip.
"We picked up the pressure. We played much better. We shot better," Hoffman said. "We played a lot of minutes without Katie. I want to give Aleena credit. She kept the ball moving in the lane. She moves very well in the lane. Even though she's not a threat to score, she took the ball from one pass and got it out to another. And other people were open. We knew we could get open."
Upper Dauphin started the second half with a 7-0 run with Miller scoring on a steal, Brown hitting a 3-pointer and Tori Cleveland scoring on a baseline drive.
Still trailing by eight with 2:22 left in the third, the Trojans made their move, scoring nine straight points off turnovers. Brown, who finished with 15 points, then drilled another triple to start the fourth to swing momentum completely in UDA's favor.
Wynn later added a 3-pointer when the Knights cut their deficit to a point with 6:06 left. She finished with 12 points and three steals, while Schwenk added 12 points despite the foul trouble.
"That's how (Wynn) is. She's not your prototypical, classy looking basketball player out there, but she can nail down some shots and she plays with a lot of guts," Hoffman said.
UDA's lead grew to 57-45 with some trips to the foul line, a place the Trojans have struggled throughout the season. In fact, Upper Dauphin isn't a great shooting team.
But, the Trojans knocked them down when they needed them.
"We haven't shot the ball well most of the year," Hoffman said. "We lost to some teams just because they played zone. Tonight, the girls wanted to keep playing. They were hitting some shots. Those girls are young. One of them is a junior. One of them is a sophomore. So we'll keep shooting this summer."
First and foremost, credit the diamond-and-one that created 29 turnovers on the night.
"We hustled and played smart," Miller said. "We made smart decisions. We made sure we were talking and knew where the ball was."