HERSHEY — A year after winning the District 3 Class 5-A girls' basketball championship, the Susquehannock girls expected to have a shot at defending that crown.
To get that opportunity, however, the Warriors needed to get past top-seeded Lower Dauphin in a semifinal contest Tuesday, Feb. 27. at Milton Hershey High School.
The defending champs started out hot, scoring the first five points on the contest.
That, however, was one of the few bright spots on an otherwise disappointing night. The Falcons responded with a 7-0 run to take the lead and, after the Warriors tied things up at 13 in the second quarter, the Mid-Penn power finished the first half on a 9-0 run.
By the time it was over, the Falcons were celebrating a 45-32 triumph.
The Falcons (24-2) move to the district final at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 3, opposite second-seeded Harrisburg (22-4). The fifth-seeded Warriors (22-5) will take on third-seeded Twin Valley (24-3) in a third-place contest at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at Penn Manor High. Twin Valley fell to Harrisburg in the other semifinal, 56-40.
“They have good ball handlers," Susquehannock coach Dave Schreiner said of Lower Dauphin. "Their point guard is probably one of the best in the area. So they don't turn the ball over much and we turned the ball over too many times.”
After Jayla Galbreath started the scoring with a 3-pointer, Jaden Walker converted on a lay-up to make it 5-0.
That, however, was all the scoring that Walker, who is second in the York-Adams League in scoring, could muster in the first half.
“We just tried to jam her as much as possible," LD coach Bob Heusser said. "Just try to get as many bodies around her because, you know, she's such a terrific athlete. Most of the time all they have to do is lob the ball into her and she can go up and get it.”
The Falcon defense closeted Walker all game long. The junior standout scored all six of her points in the second half either off rebounds or foul shots after getting rebounds.
“We just hoped that (Walker) didn't kill us," Heusser said. "And we also tried to pressure the passer a little bit to make it harder for her to get the ball.”
As a result, the Warriors had to find scoring in other places. That was difficult to do. The Falcon defense was both aggressive and physical. Schreiner's club finished with 15 turnovers.
Galbreath finished with a team-best 11 points.
The loss was a disappointment for the Susquehannock girls, who were looking forward to a rematch of last year's victory over Harrisburg.
OTHER DISTRICT 3
Lebanon Catholic 68, Christian School of York 23: At Manheim Township, the Crusaders lost to a powerhouse Lebanon Catholic team in a District 3 Class 1-A semifinal. Claire Harbaugh led CSY with 10 points.
The fourth-seeded Crusaders (20-6) have already clinched a PIAA state playoff berth. They will face sixth-seeded Lancaster Country Day (17-7) in the District 3 1-A third-place game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Hershey High School. LCD fell to second-seeded Linden Hall in the other semifinal, 64-31.
Top-seeded Lebanon Catholic improved to 21-6 and will go for a fourth-straight District 3 title at 4 p.m. Thursday vs. Linden Hall.
Solanco 53, Spring Grove 34: At Central Dauphin East, the Rockets dropped the District 3 Class 5-A consolation game.
Haley Wagman led Spring Grove with 13 points.
Sixth-seeded Spring Grove falls to 16-9. Seventh-seeded Solanco improves to 17-9.
Spring Grove, which has already clinched a PIAA state berth, will play in the seventh-place game at 8 p.m. Thursday at Penn Manor against eighth-seeded Palmyra (14-11), which dropped a 38-32 consolation decision to fourth-seeded Lampeter-Strasburg (22-4) on Tuesday.
Delone Catholic 48, Pequea Valley 47: At Warwick, Delone earned a PIAA state playoff berth with a win in the District 3 Class 3-A third-place game.
Second-seeded Delone improved to 21-5. Fourth-seeded Pequea Valley fell to 13-12. Brooke Lawyer paced Delone with 21 points. Maddie Clabaugh added 10.
Dallastown 62, Cedar Crest 46: At Hershey, the Wildcats clinched a PIAA state berth with a District 3 Class 6-A consolation win.
Will Barton poured in 23 points to lead the Wildcats. Dallastown's Braden Caldwell added 15. Ninth-seeded Dallastown (15-10) improved to 15-10, while fourth-seeded Cedar Crest saw its season end at 18-7.
The Wildcats will next take on sixth-seeded Harrisburg (17-8) in the District 3 6-A fifth-place game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Milton Hershey. Harrisburg beat seventh-seeded Wilson in the other consolation game Tuesday, 71-65.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.