Jays' win over Chargers a barometer
BY KEVIN FREEMAN, Sports Staff
The result of the game told one story. A fairly one-sided story.
Elizabethtown College's women's basketball team pushed out to leads of 11-0, 17-2 and 26-7 on the way to an 80-53 victory over Lancaster Bible College.
Two teams, it would seem, going in opposite directions.
But while the host Blue Jays are certainly on the rise as the season rolls into the stretch, you could say the same for the Chargers, who stepped up in competition in comparison to their other regular-season opponents.
Yes, both teams are considered Division III teams. But while E-town has played D-III ball since the early 1980s, LBC is relatively new to the D-III pool.
So, Tuesday's nonconference game was something of a measuring stick for the Chargers and a night to stay sharp for the Blue Jays.
E-town (7-5 Commonwealth Conference, 10-8 overall) has a decent hold on the fourth and final playoff spot in the conference with six games to play. Of those six conference games, the Jays own wins over five of the opponents.
Lancaster Bible (9-2, 14-4), meanwhile, is in first place in the North Eastern Athletic Conference's South Division. The Chargers have seven league games left, the most important of which is Wednesday when they host Penn State Harrisburg, a team that dealt LBC its lone conference loss this season.
Elizabethtown, coming off its upset of No. 5 nationally Messiah and a close loss to No. 15 Lebanon Valley, rebounded nicely from its 1-6 start to the season. Two reasons for the turnaround are named Taylor Alwine and Nadine Yunginger.
Both came a little late to the basketball season, missing the hoops team's preseason work while finishing the field hockey season. Throw in the fact that E-town has a new head coach, Sherri Gorman, and you can understand why Alwine and Yunginger felt like they were a little behind.
"It was kind of like freshman year all over again,'' said Alwine, a sophomore forward, who finished with 14 points and a team-high eight boards.
But Alwine and Yunginger, a senior and Garden Spot grad, caught up quickly and saw their minutes increase as the season progressed.
The Blue Jays ended their early-season six-game losing streak with a win over Hood, which was the last game before the semester break. Gorman traces the beginning of E-town's upswing to that game.
"We showed some really good defensive pressure in that game,'' Gorman said.
The Jays came back from the break and lost to York, ranked in the top 25 at the time, but Gorman liked what she saw in that game, too.
"That catapulted us into where we wanted to be,'' she said. "We got some momentum and started to play better as a unit.''
Playing better also was the result of a 40-minute focus. The mental lapses that plagued the team early in the season have faded.
"We just have a better handle on focus,'' Alwine said. "Over time, we've gotten used to how one another plays.''
Monday's 27-point loss didn't devastate Lancaster Bible. The Chargers will take away the positives and use them in their quest for a division title.
"I was happy with our halfcourt defense,'' LBC coach Doug Helsel said, "but there were too many giveaways, too many (missed) rebounds and too many E-town hoops in transition.''
As the Chargers get ready for Wednesday's game against Penn State Harrisburg, they believe Monday's game helped more than it hurt.
"We know what we need to work on,'' said Brooklyn Decker, who shared the team-high in points (15) with Lauren Heliger. "We still have a lot of season left and games that we think we can win.''
Notes: Taylor Santor came off the bench and led all scorers with 21 points, a season high. She was 3 of 3 from beyond the arc. ... As a team, E-town made eight 3-pointers, one short of its season high.