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Manheim Central's Rachel Nolt shoots against Twin Valley in the second half of a nonleague girls basketball game at Doe Run Elementary School in Manheim on Monday, Dec.13, 2021.

No milestone moment, but a heck of a gut-check victory for Manheim Central’s girls basketball team.

Barons’ junior ace Maddie Knier needed 34 points for 1,000 in her prep career, but she came up just short with 31 points. Knier scored the go-ahead bucket with 1:15 to play on a breakaway layup, and Abbie Reed hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 29 seconds to go for some breathing room and Central fended off Penn Manor 53-50 in an action-packed nonleague game Wednesday at Doe Run Elementary School in Manheim.

“It’s a big win because it’s the next game on our schedule,” Central coach Tyson Hayes said. “In this day and age of snow and — unfortunately — illness, you take them when you can get them. I’m glad we were able to come and compete and battle back. That’s what you want to see.”

Central (7-2 overall) came into the game alone atop the L-L League Section 3 hunt, while Penn Manor (7-5) is just a game off the pace behind reigning league champ Hempfield in the Section 1 race. Both teams are also in the thick of their respective District 3 playoff chases; the Barons came in at No. 5 in 5A, while the Comets are No. 9 in 6A.

Wednesday, Central was in pretty good shape, up 49-39 with 6:15 to play with Reed hit a pair of free throws. But Penn Manor jabbed right back with an 11-0 blitz for a 50-49 lead on Kamia Goodley’s transition layup with 3:01 to go.

Lily Sugra (18 points) had two buckets, Goodley (10 points) hit a trey and Sydney Shepos (18 points) scooped in a layup during the run, and the Comets were back in business. But Knier, who nearly joined the 1,000-point club, finished off a layup on the break and Central had the lead back with 1:15 to go.

Reed’s free throws — after the Barons tracked down a loose ball after a wild scramble near mid-court — meant Penn Manor needed a 3-pointer to tie, and the Comets used timeouts with 15.2 seconds and 6.2 seconds to go. Penn Manor diagramed a 3-point attempt for Goodley at the top of the key, but the Comets’ last-gasp shot misfired, and Central held on.

“We didn’t quite, and we very easily could have when we were down 10,” Penn Manor coach Megan Collins said. “That’s the one thing I can always commend them on: They don’t quit, and they kept playing right down until the last shot.”

Knier will need three points for 1,000 on Friday when Central visits Elco for a crossover clash.

NOTABLES — Funkiest stat of the game: Penn Manor didn’t attempt a single foul shot. … Turnovers: Penn Manor 17; Central 12. … Penn Manor out-rebounded Central 27-21; Sugra and Emily Riggs ripped down eight boards apiece for the Comets, while Knier pulled down a game-high nine caroms for the Barons. … Penn Manor was minus sniper Morgan Miller — the league-leader with 22 3-pointers — who is in concussion protocol.

TWITTER: @JeffReinhart77

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