Even in exhibition all-star games, the competitive juices take over and win-mode kicks in.
Like Wednesday night, when the Lancaster-Lebanon League senior girls’ basketball Home team saw its 18-point second-half lead dwindle down to just two points against the Away squad midway through the fourth quarter.
That’s when the Home team, coached by Lancaster Catholic’s Charlie Detz and Lancaster Mennonite’s Trevor Orr, punched it into overdrive.
Donegal’s Cheyenne Livelsberger had a pair of stick-back buckets, and Mennonite’s Anyzha Gibson, Warwick’s Abby Rodgers and Lebanon’s Destiny Infante knocked down 3-pointers in the waning minutes, and the Home team knocked off the Away team 76-67 at Hempfield.
“In the end, it’s an all-star game and it was fun,” Garden Spot’s Megan Fisher, of the victorious Home team, said. “But when it got close there, we were all like hey, we really want to win this.”
There were 24 players in the game, 12 on each squad, although Elizabethtown’s Marena Lonardi, the LNP Section Two MVP, was injured and did not play. The teams were split evenly among players from all five sections.
Gibson scored a game-high 19 points and Lancaster Catholic’s Kiki Jefferson, the LNP Section Four MVP, had 13 points and seven rebounds for the victorious Home squad, which owned a 46-41 advantage on the boards and forced 22 turnovers.
“We wanted to win, but we wanted to have fun,” said Jefferson, who finished her prep career with 2,510 points, No. 2 on the league’s all-time list.
She was a key cog in Catholic's senior class, which went 115-10 over the past four seasons, with three L-L titles, three D3 crowns and the 2018 PIAA-4A state championship, capping a 32-0 season — on the way to a PIAA girls' mark of 62 victories in a row.
“I’m so glad I got to play around here one last time, so it feels amazing,” Jefferson, a James Madison recruit, added. “I’ll miss all the fans, and I’m so glad I got to play one last time with all of these girls. My four years here were simply amazing. I don’t even know what else to say. I’ll never forget it.”
The Home squad had a 25-16 lead after the first quarter as Gibson had three buckets, and Fisher, a Bloomsburg recruit and 1,000-point scorer, scored all eight of her points, including a buzzer-beater in the lane to put the Home team up by nine points.
In the second quarter, the Home team displayed its outside shooting prowess, with Jefferson hitting a pair of 3-pointers — the latter for a 38-28 lead — and Rodgers and Lancaster Catholic’s Peyton Jaquis added treys as the Home club opened up a 47-34 lead at the break.
Jaquis had 103 3-pointers, second most in L-L history, for the Crusaders this past season.
The Away team, coached by E-town’s John Myers and Solanco’s Chad McDowell, cut into the Home team’s lead in the third quarter behind Elco’s Julia Nelson, who scored seven of her 10 points in the quarter. Her buzzer-beater got the Away team within 58-49 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Home team’s largest lead was 52-34, on Livelsberger’s bucket early in the third.
In the fourth, Manheim Township’s Alijiah Bonano sparked the Away team’s comeback with her fourth 3-pointer of the game, and the Away team had the Home squad’s lead down to 62-60 with 5:07 to go on a bucket by Columbia’s Janeah Neal, a 1,500-point scorer who had a team-high 13 points on Wednesday.
E-town’s Sydney Pierson, a Kutztown recruit, had four of her 10 points in the fourth for the Away team, which ultimately couldn’t keep Livelsberger off of the offensive glass in crunch time. Cocalico’s Hanna Greenly added three free throws down the stretch to help the Home team pad its lead late.
“Some of these girls are going off to play in college,” Fisher said, “so it was really great to be out here playing right with them.”
NOTES: During the all-star game festivities, L-L League officials on Wednesday awarded their annual Team Sportsmanship Award to Elco for the 2018-19 season. The Raiders had a runner-up finish in Section Four, before reaching the league's championship game, the D3-4A semifinals and the second round of the PIAA playoffs, after Elco won a state-playoff game for the first time since 1999 under coach Ashli Shay. ... Lonardi, a Lock Haven recruit and E-town's all-time leading scorer, was on crutches and not available to play after she stepped on some glass at home last week.
L-L LEAGUE SENIOR GIRLS ALL-STAR GAME
Home 76, Away 67
Cheyenne Livelsberger (Donegal) 4 1-2 9, Hanna Greenly (Cocalico) 0 3-3 3, Megan Fisher (Garden Spot) 4 0-0 8, Raven Morgan (Cedar Crest) 2 0-0 5, Peyton Jaquis (Lancaster Catholic) 2 0-0 5, Kiki Jefferson (Lancaster Catholic) 5 0-0 13, Amber High (Lancaster Mennonite) 1 0-0 2, Anyzha Gibson (Lancaster Mennonite) 9 0-0 19, Destiny Infante (Lebanon) 2 0-0 5, Abby Rodgers (Warwick) 2 0-0 6, Kandice Liebl (Ephrata) 1 0-0 3, Kate Levato (Penn Manor ) 0 1-4 1. 32 5-9 76.
Marlena Ferry (Pequea Valley) 1 0-0 3, Alexcia Bryant (Manheim Township) 0 0-2 0, Alijiah Bonano (Manheim Township) 4 0-0 12, Sydney Pierson (Elizabethtown) 5 0-0 10, Aleksa Burger (Solanco) 0 0-0 0, Jess Cabrera (Solanco) 2 0-0 4, Ryelle Shuey (Elco) 4 1-1 9, Janeah Neal (Columbia) 5 3-4 13, Emma Gochnauer (L-S) 1 0-0 2, Kenzie Reed (CV) 1 2-4 4, Julia Nelson (Elco) 4 0-0 10. 27 6-11 67.
3-POINTERS: Jefferson 3, Rodgers 2, Morgan, Jaquis, Gibson, Infante, Liebl; Bonano 4, Nelson 2, Ferry.