For a moment, everything stopped inside the gym at Lancaster Country Day Tuesday night.
With the final seconds of the first quarter ticking off the clock, Ashanti Duncan hauled in the offensive rebound. The senior’s put-back rolled around the rim, paused on the left side and then finally fell in as the buzzer sounded and the crowd let out a collective sigh of relief.
The points were the first of a game-high 18 for Duncan as Country Day powered its way past Lebanon Catholic 60-32 and into the District Three Class 1A basketball championship at the Giant Center Friday at 4 p.m.
The Cougars will get the chance to defend their title in a rematch of last year’s final, facing Greenwood (20-6), a 39-26 winner over Christian School of York.
“We came out with intensity from the start and I thought we stuck to the game plan,” Country Day coach Hilary Waltman said. “When you have seniors on a team, and five of them, you don’t have to worry too much about will they step up or will the stage be too big for them — they’ve been through it all. I was very impressed with how we handled it.”
After winning both regular season meetings between the two teams, Country Day took control early on Tuesday, going on an 11-0 run. By the time Katie Davis connected for Lebanon Catholic’s first basket, only two minutes remained on the clock.
Davis would hit a free throw for the Beavers' only other point in the first, before Genesis Meadows drained her second 3-pointer and Country Day’s fourth of the quarter.
The host Cougars led 18-3 entering the second, where Lebanon Catholic seemed to find some extra energy. Sami Hatzfeld (nine points) went coast-to-coast for a layup and Alyssa Loser netted seven of her team-high 11 points in the quarter.
Country Day answered right back, however, as Duncan became a problem under the basket. The senior scored 10 points in the quarter and pulled in 14 rebounds in the game, including another basket off the glass to send the game into halftime with Country Day up 36-18.
Two other Cougars finished in double figures, as Annabelle Copeland poured in 17 points and Kaela Stankiewicz added 15.
“Lancaster Country Day is such a balanced team,” Lebanon Catholic coach Patti Hower said. “The first quarter, we were in a zone and they hit their outside shots. Then we went man-to-man and they pounded it inside. Credit to them, they attacked our weaknesses and they finished.”
“I give my kids credit. I thought they played hard the entire game,” Hower continued. “I thought we did do some really nice things offensively and defensively. We just didn’t have the firepower to catch up.”
Copeland with the basket and 1 for Country Day. Cougars now lead Lebanon Catholic 60-32 with 1:30 to play. pic.twitter.com/6oxVwa6Knf— Diana Pugliese (@dianapugs) February 26, 2020
Veritas Academy 34, Mount Calvary Christian 28: Serena Hartzler scored 18 points, Caitlin Lielbriedis chipped in with 10 points, and the Monarchs kept their season alive with a win over the host Chargers in a Class 1A consolation game. Kenzie Baughman scored 14 points for MCC, which saw its season come to a close with an 18-9 record. Veritas (15-10) will play at Halifax, a 55-17 winner over New Covenant Christian, for fifth place and a PIAA bid on Thursday.