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Moshannon Valley girls nab first win of season over Harmony
Thursday, January 3, 2013
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
AMESVILLE - The Moshannon Valley girls basketball team kept opening double-digit leads Wednesday night at Lamont Close Gymnasium, and the Harmony Lady Owls kept responding.
The Damsels led by as many as 12 in both the first and third quarters and 15 in the fourth, but Harmony cut the deficit down each time, getting as close as two early in the third stanza.
But in the end, Mo Valley had just enough firepower to keep the lead throughout and came away with a 41-31 win, its first of the season.
"We'll take it," Damsel head coach Van Cornish said. "We've been working hard for seven games, and the girls haven't quit. It was nice to get one in the other column."
It looked like Mo Valley was going to blow the Lady Owls out of the gym early, dialing long distance on its first four trips down the floor and converting each shot for a 12-0 lead a little over three minutes into the contest.
Emily Smith and Hannah Kitko each nailed two 3-pointers to give the Damsels a quick, double-digit lead.
Kitko paced Mo Valley with 12 points on the night, while Smith netted 10.
"I was surprised with that start. I really was," Cornish said. "I'm glad the girls shot that well early. I told them they had to be aggressive right from the very start of the game. They took it to heart and came out on fire."
"I think they came out and hit more 3s than they had all year combined," Harmony head coach Ralph Butterworth said. "Good for them. But bad for us. But we didn't quit at 12-0. We battled back."
The Lady Owls battling back became the theme for the night.
Harmony scored the final nine points of the first quarter, getting a pair of Lindsay Welteroth buckets to go with a field goal and a free throw from Shannon Dyda and a Nikki Wortman basket to close the gap to 12-9.
But neither team could find the net in the second quarter.
The Damsels couldn't hit a shot after the torrid start, and Harmony's woes holding onto the ball limited its looks at the basket. The Lady Owls turned the ball over 11 times in the second quarter and a total of 20 in the first half.
"Turnovers in the first half killed us," Butterworth said. "You get different referee sets, and some really concentrate on traveling. We might have been doing it all year and not been called on it. But they nailed us on every one tonight. Both sides. But turnovers in the first half killed us."
But Mo Valley's 2-for-22 performance from the field in the quarter kept things close.
"When they went to man, we had a hard time scoring," Cornish said.
Mo Valley led 20-14 at the half despite a 9-minute scoring drought. Haley Stodart broke the drought with a free throw with 3:27 left in the second, and Tayia Swoope helped extend it to 18-9 with a field goal and a foul shot.
But Harmony closed the gap to six at the half and scored the first four points in the third quarter, thanks to a 3-pointer and a free throw from Welteroth, to make the score, 20-18.
Unfortunately for the Lady Owls, they had trouble finding the handle on the ball over the next three possessions and the Damsels made them pay, converting all three turnovers into transition buckets.
"I was worried there," Cornish said. "At that point I was about ready to call a timeout. Then we went on that little spurt where we started pushing the ball up the floor and looking for each other. We were just trying to catch them not getting back."
Mo Valley ended the third quarter on an 11-1 run and continued into the final quarter, taking a 37-22 advantage with four minutes left to play.
But once again, Harmony found a way to make a game of it.
The Lady Owls started driving to the bucket, drawing fouls and sending a couple Damsels, who were in severe foul trouble, to the bench with their fifth.
"I told the girls at halftime we were fouling too much and we had to keep our hands off them," Cornish said. "That's our problem. We want to reach, and be a little lazy on defense. We can't do that. We have to move our feet and be smart.
"And in the second half, that was the perfect recipe for (Harmony) to come back. The clock was stopped and they were at the foul line shooting double bonus."
The Lady Owls scored the next nine points to cut the deficit to 37-31.
Welteroth's second trey and a 5-for-7 performance from the line were key in the quarter for Harmony. Welteroth led all players with 18 points and added nine rebounds for the Lady Owls. Joleen Brink scored six points, pulled down nine rebounds and blocked three shots to help out Welteroth.
"They were making me sweat," Cornish said of the Lady Owls and their fourth-quarter comeback. "Those girls ... they don't give up. That's one thing we know about Harmony. They will not give it up. They made me sweat there at the end big time. I was real impressed. They don't quit."
After closing to six, however, Harmony began rushing its shots and turning the ball over and the Damsels were able to pull away.
"We get something that works and we quit doing it," Butterworth said. "We were driving and doing everything right and then we stopped. And we're not a fast-break team. We tried to run a couple times and we threw the ball away.
"But (Mo Valley) didn't get rattled. Some teams when they have a big lead and you start coming back, they fall apart. Mo Valley kept their composure. Hat's off to them. They finished strong."
Swoope finalized the scoring with an offensive rebound and putback, to put an exclamation point on a dominating effort on the boards.
She scored seven points and ripped down 18 boards to help the Damsels to a 45-29 advantage on the glass.
"She did excellent with defensive and offensive boards," Cornish said. "She did a good job. She really wanted this one."
Damsel point guard Emily Kolesar added nine rebounds to go with six points and five assists.
"She's still young, and she still makes little mistakes, but she has the all-around game and could be really good in a couple years," Cornish said of Kolesar. "She does a little bit of everything. She can shoot it, she can drive it. If she can control the flow of the game, she'll be good."
Mo Valley improved to 1-7 overall and 1-1 in the Mo Valley League.
Harmony dipped to 0-9 overall and 0-3 in league play.
"The girls played their hearts out," Butterworth said. "They didn't quit. We're getting there. We have good girls with hearts of gold, and they just keep working. It's going to pay off for them. They're a good bunch of girls and they deserve a win and hopefully they're going to find one here shortly.
"I'm proud of the girls. It's very easy when you didn't win last year and haven't won yet this year to say, ‘hey, why am I trying so hard?' But they try so hard. I'm proud of them."
The Damsels won the jayvee game, 26-13. Samantha Matchock scored five for Mo Valley, while Brink also netted five.
Mo Valley is back in action tonight at Mount Union.
Harmony hosts Claysburg-Kimmel on Monday.

Harmony-31
Woodley 0 0-0 0, Welteroth 4 8-13 18, Brink 2 2-6 6, Dyda 1 2-4 4, Wortman 1 0-1 2, Maseto 0 1-2 1. Woodward 0 0-1 0, Raho 0 0-0 0, Nalley 0 0-2 0. Totals: 8 13-29 31.
Moshannon Valley-41
Swoope 3 1-2 7, Smith 4 0-0 10, Stodart 1 1-2 3, H. Kitko 4 2-3 12, Kolesar 2 2-3 6, K. Kitko 0 0-0 0, Matchock 0 2-4 2, Kronenwetter 0 1-2 1, Smeal 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 9-16 41.
Three-pointers: Welteroth 2; Smith 2, H. Kitko 2.
Score by Quarters
Harmony    9 5  5 12-31
Mo Valley 12 8 11 10-41


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