WRIGHTSVILLE -- There will likely come a time when the Eastern York girls' basketball team will play like a cohesive bunch for a full 32 minutes.
Unfortunately for Head Coach Cheryl Land and company, that time has not yet arrived.
The Golden Knights looked great for the first eight minutes Thursday evening during their battle with Cedar Crest in the second game of the Wrightsville Rotary Club Holiday Tournament doubleheader. Land's squad was penetrating inside while also sharing the ball.
Then came the second quarter.
What worked well for Eastern in the first period seemed to get lost the rest of the way and the Falcons took advantage. Cedar Crest knocked down some timely shots while also making the most of its 30 free throw attempts over the final three stanzas.
Despite a late rally by Land's club, the Knights were unable to fully recover and fell, 54-49.
Eastern (4-3 overall) will battle Conrad Weiser (5-2), who fell to Susquehannock 54-32 in the opener, Friday at 6 p.m. in the consolation contest. The Falcons (4-2) and Warriors (7-1) will battle for the tournament crown at about 7:30 p.m.
"We played well in that first quarter," said Land, who was missing one starter (Lauren Beaver, illness). "But then we really seemed to get out of sync. We really lost sight of our team offense."
The Knights were able to get easy layins or draw fouls in the paint in the first quarter. Eastern shot eight of its 18 free throws over the first eight minutes, which saw the Golden Knights stake out an 18-9 advantage.
The visitors then slowly started to chip away at the deficit. Rachel Miller, who led all scorers with 18 points, tallied eight of those points in the second period. Her 3-pointer with a minute left drew Cedar Crest to within 26-24 by intermission.
Miller again hit a big shot in the third that put her team ahead for good. After Ashley Dietz scored on a layin to put Eastern up 30-29, Miller sank a triple from the key that ignited a 14-5 run. The Falcons were able to ice the game at the free throw line late, knocking down 16-of-20 attempts from the charity stripe in the final stanza.
"Cedar Crest was very well-prepared," Land said. "They shoot great and we had that in the scouting report. They were patient on offense and they played a really solid basketball game."
Bloomsburg-bound senior Morgan Thomas led Eastern with 17 points. Thomas almost single-handedly brought her team even with the Falcons late. Down by nine (44-35) with 3:28 remaining, Thomas scored six consecutive points to cut the deficit to three.
"She works hard out there and gives everything she has," Land said. "But our kids are still trying to find that vibe together, and when they do, this is going to be a great basketball team."
Thomas even had a chance in the final seconds to tie the contest, but just missed on a 3-point attempt from the key. The Falcons were able to seal the victory with a pair of free throws with under a second left to produce the five-point margin of victory.
Haley Nalls scored 10 points for the Knights, while Dietz added nine.
Susquehannock throttles Scouts again: While the nightcap had its share of drama late, there was no such excitement in the opener. Coach Dave Schreiner's club sprinted to a 14-8 lead after a quarter and led by 16 (30-14) at the break.
This pairing marked a rematch from last year's District 3-AAA Tournament, when the sixth-seeded Warriors blitzed the 11th-seeded Scouts by 30 points. Despite the comfortable margin of victory, Schreiner sounded as if he was still waiting for his talented team to approach its full potential for a full 32 minutes.
"We're doing what it takes to win," Schreiner said. "We're doing what it takes to get some little gaps and get some breathing room."
The Warriors got double-digit scoring from the big three of Shannon Druck (14 points), Katie Wagner (14) and MaKenzie Fancher (10).
Ashley Stone, who filled in some minutes in the first half when Fancher got into some foul trouble, chipped in eight points. It marked the second game in a row in which Stone, who could probably start for many other teams in the league, was pressed into some early action because a teammate was hampered by fouls.
"We always want to help the team out," said Stone, who is a sophomore. "We always want to help the seniors so we can have a great season. It's all about teamwork and we want to do what we can do to help our team win."
Hannah Racis led the Scouts with 16 points.
-- Reach Ryand Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.