Lancaster Country Day vs Susquehanna Community-PIAA 1A Girls 2nd Rd.

Lancaster Country Day's Ashanti Duncan (35) goes to the hoop against Susquehanna Community during second half action of a PIAA 1A girls basketball second round game at Hazleton Area High School Wednesday March 11, 2020.

HAZLETON — There was nothing obviously tricky or unusual about the zone defense Susquehanna Community threw at Lancaster Country Day Wednesday.

The zone was effective, though, effective enough to bog down the Cougars’ offense and end their season.

Susquehanna beat Country Day 35-25 in a second-round game of the Class A girls’ basketball state tournament at Hazleton High School.

“I went to see them live, watched numerous films,’’ Country Day coach Hilary Waltman said. “I didn’t think that zone would give us as much trouble as it did.’’

The Cougars started decently, and took an 8-5 lead on a stick-back by Ashanti Duncan late in the first quarter.

But from there to halftime, 15 Country Day possessions yielded eight turnovers, one-for-eight field goal shooting, zero trips to the foul line and two points.

“We did not take care of the basketball,’’ Waltman said, “but part of that is our point guard sitting on the bench most of the game.’’

Indeed, the worst part of the Cougars’ frigid second quarter was senior playmaker Kaela Stankiewicz hitting the floor with an apparent lower-body injury, leaving the game and not returning.

What little dribble penetration of the zone Country Day got came from Stankiewicz. Her absence forced a freshman, Genesis Meadows, into the daunting playmakers’ role.

And Stankiewicz, a senior, had missed her junior year with an ACL tear.

“It was, just, you know, sickening,’’ Waltman said.

Country Day never found a rhythm offensively, but they did hang around most of the way. The Cougars trailed just 24-21, on free throws by Duncan and Annabelle Copeland, with five minutes left. But they didn’t manage another field goal.

The Sabers soon started sensing the finish line. Led by University of Scranton-bound forward MacKenzie Steele, who had five of her nine points in the fourth quarter, Susquehanna put together an 11-2 run to salt it away.

The Sabers (19-6) are in the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history. They face the winner of Wednesday’s Northumberland Christian-Bishop Carroll second-rounder Saturday and a site and time to be determined.

The Cougars bow out, with a second straight district title, at 23-4. Not bad for a program that went from 13-12 in 2017 to 18 wins the next year and 19 the year after that.

“I came to (Country Day) for academics,’’ said Copeland, who will play at Haverford College. “I’ve been so happy at this school all-around, and basketball was just such a nice bonus.’’