By Kenny Varner
LEWISTOWN -Attention: This article is not for the faint of heart. It contains, thrills, excitement and numerous events to surely have you on the edge of your seat. Proceed with caution!
Every time the MIfflin County girls basketball team meets up with State College, it’s bound to be an instant classic.
The game was a rollercoaster ride of momentum and lead changes thrown in with some clutch plays on both teams part leading to the overtime landing.
Monday was no exception as the two went into an overtime contest before a charged up MIfflin County offense outscored the Little Lions 16-2 to punch their ticket to the District 6 title game against Altoona.
Marissa Gingrich played an inspirational game posting a 37-point effort in the victory.
The Lady Huskies also had the advantage on the boards using it to a 64-49 victory in the ‘Dawg Pound’.
Gingrich finished with a double/double of 37 points and 14 rebounds. She also was the team’s shining star once again as she shined in all facets of her game. She even heard chants of MVP from the Husky faithful as she went to the line numerous times in the overtime.
Another facet of where the Huskies shined was in the rebound department. Mifflin County pulled down 59 while the Lady Little Lions grabbed 27.
Besides Gingrich, Mifflin County got double digits rebounding from Amelia Leister (11), Aija Binder (12) and Riley Hine (12).
“Obviously a great overall team effort. For a team as young and inexperienced as we are, besides Marissa. To win a win or go home game like in a hot and intense gym tonight says a lot about what we thought this team could be and the energy and execution they would bring,” said MIfflin County coach Aaron Gingrich. “I thought defensively, they locked in on a game plan. They really made State fight for every open look they got.”
State College got strong efforts by Jordyn Steindl who posted a team-high 19 points and 11 boards. Teammate Carley Donnell chipped in nine in the overtime contest.
After three full quarters of back and forth lead changes, MIfflin County held a slim 39-35 advantage over State College.
Beginning the final stanza, State College got a triple from Steindl, quickly cutting it to a one -point MIfflin County lead.
Gingrich put her team back up by three as she hit a runner in the post.
State College got a strong effort off the bench by Lydia Tate who cut the score back to one as she took a strong shot in the paint.
The Little Lions forced a turnover and put the ball back in the hands of Steindl. She did not disappoint, hitting a shot while being fouled in the process. She missed the free throw, but the Lions went back on top 42-41 with 7:08 left.
Carley Donnell made it a two-point lead as she hit 1-of-2 from the line.
Mifflin County tied the contest on the Huskies next possession, Leister hit 2-of-2 from the charity stripe.
State took back the lead on a long bucket by Diana Tsarnakova, making it a 45-43 advantage at the 5:15 mark.
As the clock wound down to 2:31, Gingrich went strong to the hoop and was fouled on the play. She was automatic with her two foul shots and put the game at a 47-all stale mate.
Tate put her team up by two late as they got her the ball down low and she hit a jumper in traffic with 2:09 left.
Gingrich once again shown again why she is one of the best in the Mid-Penn, posting a bucket off a Hine rebound with 56.7.
But the Huskies defense came up clutch again as Hine pulled down a rebound and sent it up the court. State College’s defense shined as well and did the same as neither team could end the stalemate in regulation.
However, the offense of the Huskies was just getting started as it struck early and often as Gingrich and company scored seven points early. Six by Gingrich and one by Binder, upping the Huskies lead to a comfortable 52-47.
However, while scoring her sixth point of the period, Gingrich laid on the court with an injury. As she went quickly back to the lockeroom, the other Huskies played fearlessly and led by Leister, was able to keep State College scoreless while she hit two strong free throws. As she hit the second, Gingrich ran out into the court Willis Reed-esc to the roar of the MIfflin County faithful.
That was all that the Huskies would need as they rolled off a total of 17 while State was held to just two.
As another highlight to add to her list of great accomplishments, Gingrich gave their fans a lot to cheer for going into the intermission, showing she had ice in her veins, popping a triple at the buzzer to give the Huskies the lead going into the third.
The win sets up a rematch between the Huskies and Altoona as they meet Friday night at Mount Aloysius College at six for the District 6 title.