Lancaster Country Day vs Greenwood-D3 1A Girls Championships

Lancaster Country Day captains Annabelle Copeland (12) Ashanti Duncan (35) and McKayla Forman (23) celebrate with the championship trophy after beating Greenwood to win the District 3 1A Girls Basketball Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey Thursday Feb. 28, 2019. Lancaster Country Day won 35-30.

HERSHEY — When the final horn at the Giant Center sounded, it seemed fitting that the ball was in the hands of McKayla Forman, Lancaster Country Day’s lone senior.

After all, it was Forman who kept the Cougars in the game throughout a no-so-pretty first half against Greenwood in Thursday’s District Three Class 1A girls basketball championship game.

Forman grabbed a rebound of a Wildcats miss and ran up-court as the championship celebration began, the second in 24 hours for Lancaster Country Day.

The final score: Lancaster Country Day 35, Greenwood 30, earning the first district title for the school’s girls program only 24 hours after the LCD boys accomplished the same feat.

“It was really important, especially in the biggest game of my career, that we just keep playing,” Forman said. “The first half we were so nervous. We walked into the gym and we didn’t know what to do.

“In the locker room at halftime, we said, ‘This is our chance.’ We wanted to be like the boys, and went out and got it.”

After her team improved to 19-5, Lancaster Country Day coach Hilary Waltman said that while the Cougars didn’t look ahead, once belief set in, that first title became a distinct possibility.

“As we got farther along in the season, I think the light bulb went on that maybe we can do this,” she said.

Waltman knew Country Day was fortunate to be ahead 13-12 at halftime.

“Both teams were trying to settle in. It was the big stage and nerves got the better of the teams to start the game,” she said.

Credit to Forman and junior forward Anna Sotirescu. Each scored four of the Cougars’ 13 first-half points, pulled down clutch rebounds and played solid defense.

“Her fantastic leadership — we had it all year,” Waltman said of Forman. “She doesn’t always fill the stat sheet, but she does so many things. She rebounds, she sets screens and usually guards the top offensive player on the other team.”

That allowed Ashanti Duncan and Annabelle Copeland to take over after the intermission. Duncan led the team with 14 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Copeland had 12 points — all in the second half — and eight rebounds.

“I just make sure I am as aggressive as possible, doing the basics, pushing back, getting low, jumping for my rebound,” Duncan said.

Although the top-seeded Wildcats led by two after three quarters, the trend was set. Country Day was going to pound inside, especially once Greenwood 6-footer Alli Walton picked up her fourth foul.

Copeland drove to the basket for a three-point play and a lead. A short while later, the Wildcats went up, 24-23, but Copeland’s baseline jumper put the Cougars back in front.

Walton scored for Greenwood, however, 15 seconds later she fouled out and Duncan hit both free throws with two minutes to play. Country Day never trailed again.

“As soon as she got out, I thought it was a good opportunity to close the game out,” Copeland said of Walton fouling out. “I really was not sure a district title would happen, but I am glad it did.”

Duncan’s layup broke a 27-27 tie, Copeland hit two free throws, and Duncan’s offensive rebound and free throw with 30 seconds remaining put the Cougars ahead two possessions. Copeland put the game away at the foul line.

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