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Big Win Over CD East
Jan. 19, 2017
Huskies smother division rival 19 Jan 2017 — The Sentinel
LEWISTOWN - Belief is a powerful force and the Mifflin County girl's basketball team is starting to believe in a big way.
The Huskies played a smothering 2-3 zone and rode the hot shooting of Eleana Eckley for the second straight night to down Central Dauphin East, a team ranked above the Huskies in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth, in a huge 55-47 victory Wednesday evening.
Mifflin County upped its record to 9-5 overall and 4-4 in the conference. The Huskies are only two wins away from being playoff eligible.
"About a week and half ago, even before we played that ugly game with Chambersburg, I told the girls we have to put that behind us and get ready for the next three games," Mifflin County coach Roger Herto said. "The next day in practice, I sensed everybody playing harder and we got better the last two weeks because of the kids who didn't get in the game tonight and what they've done in practice. They are pushing us so much harder and I can't compliment the effort they are putting in practice enough.
"This is a big win for us. I like our team. Anyone who has been in athletics knows what a good locker room feels like and this has really started to take hold here. I can feel it on the bench behind me. There is no question this was a big game and a big win for us. This team is getting better and you can feel it. Great win for us tonight."
Eckley, fresh off a career-high 35 points against Carlisle on Tuesday, pumped in a game-high 31 points to lead the Huskies. Rylie Rittenhouse also finished in double figures with 11 points.
"(Eckley) is just starting to get to where she can get. (She) can be even better than that and I tell her all of the time," Herto said. "When God gives you a gift, you've got to open it. You can't just look at it. You have to challenge yourself every day. We have not seen her best yet, not by a long shot."
Central Dauphin East (10-4, 5-4) held a slim 11-10 advantage after eight minutes, until Eckley fired in 14 of the Huskies 16 points in the second quarter. Mifflin County took the lead for good on a trey by Eckley with 2:04 to go as the Huskies held a slim 26-23 lead at the half.
"We are having a lot of confidence in ourselves, playing how we know we can play, running the ball and keeping them playing our game. That's what we do best," Eckley said. "We work a lot on passing the ball and not doing a lot of dribbling because we get into trouble sometimes when we dribble too much. We did a good job of passing tonight.
"I'm having confidence in my shot so when I see a shot I just take it. We've gone from playing our worst ball and we didn't like that so we started working real hard in practice to get better, pounding the boards and getting after each other. Doing that has made us better these last couple games."
The first half was a replay of the Carlisle contest with Eckley and Rittenhouse doing all the scoring. The duo combined for 24 of Mifflin County's 26 points.
"We came out really strong and we played very good defense and really packed it in and that's where the game was won," Rittenhouse said. "We wanted to go 2-1 this week to make the playoffs but now we want to go 3-0. We really worked on our defense and that's what's setting us apart this year. We've played together for a long time and we play well together. It's been really fun this year."
The 2-3 zone frustrated the Panthers and limited any advantage they may have had in height. The zone was particularly effective in the third quarter as Central Dauphin East had more turnovers (eight) than points (seven) in the frame.
Justyn Roberts led Central Dauphin East with 19 points and nine rebounds with nine coming in the fourth quarter. The Panther senior didn't play much of a role for most of the contest.
"We took a big girl who is already signed to West Chester, we got a good scout from another coach and we decided how we were going to play it," Herto said. "A bunch of 5-8 and 5-9 kids, and some of those heights are fudged a bit, took three six-footers and made them look fairly average tonight. I can't say enough defensively about the job (Ericka) Lepley, Rittenhouse, and (Bryn) Ferguson did inside."
Eckley continued her blistering shooting in the fourth with 13 points and Hannah Aumiller salted the game away by going 6-of-6 from the line in the waning minutes.
The Husky JVs lost 37-31 in overtime.
Mifflin County finishes out the week on the road against State College on Friday.
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