For Penn Manor’s girls basketball team, it was just what the doctor ordered.
Season opener, on the road, facing a back-to-back section champ, and with their own section lid-lifter against that reigning champ coming up on Monday, the Comets put the pedal to the metal on Saturday night, racing past Solanco for a 52-39 nonleague win in Quarryville.
“It’s been quite a few years since we got a W to start off our season, so this is huge for us,” Penn Manor coach Megan Collins said. “I’m very pleased going into next week. It’s a good feeling.”
Penn Manor, which visits defending Section One champ Hempfield on Monday, closed the first quarter Saturday with a rip-roaring 13-0 blitz, and the Comets opened up a 25-12 lead at the half.
The host Golden Mules, on the court 24 hours after suffering an opening-night nonleague setback at Warwick on Friday, turned the ball over 36 times, and never really found their groove after grabbing an early 4-0 lead.
Solanco made one second-half charge, cutting Penn Manor’s lead to 25-17 when Paige Phillips pocketed a wing 3-pointer. The Comets immediately punched back behind Sydney Shepos, who drilled a pair of 3-pointers, and she scored 10 of her game-high 16 points in the third, which ended with Penn Manor owning a safe and sound 40-23 lead.
On the Comets’ first trip of the fourth quarter, Kamia Goodley drilled a wing trey, stretching Penn Manor’s lead to a cozy 43-23, and that was that.
Both teams were sluggish out of the chute, and Solanco had a 4-0 lead midway through the first quarter on buckets by Phillips and Olivia Lasko. After a timeout to get her team’s attention, Collins watched the Comets go 13-0 to end the quarter. Morgan Miller scored six of her eight points during the spree, including a layup for an 11-4 lead, and then Miller picked off the ensuing inbound pass and beat the first-quarter horn for a 13-4 edge.
Miller is up to 501 career points, one game into her junior campaign.
“It took us a little while to get going, and I gave them the benefit of the doubt for it being the first game, with some jitters and some nerves,” Collins said. “But after that early timeout, we got ourselves together, and there was no looking back.”
Izzy Kligge and Keegan Dings had key buckets off the bench, and Shepos’ stick-back gave Penn Manor a 19-7 edge with 3:55 to go in the half, as the Comets secured a 13-point lead at intermission after forcing Solanco into 22 first-half turnovers.
Jade Eshleman scored in the lane, and Phillips had back-to-back baskets, including a trey, as Solanco showed some signs of life to open the third. But that’s when Shepos got hot. Her second triple during the run gave Penn Manor a 40-23 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“I was kind of shocked that I made those shots,” Shepos said. “My shot was off all week at practice, so I was kind of surprised I was making them. I thought it brought some energy to the team, and it definitely helped us out.”
Phillips scored 14 points and Eshelman had 12 points and she plucked 18 rebounds for the Mules. Lily Sugra scored 10 points and she snared eight boards for Penn Manor.
Solanco played a spirited final eight minutes to cut into the Comets’ lead, but now the Mules will head into Section Three play — with bull’s-eyes on their backs — with a 0-2 overall record.
“What we take out of these first two games is experience,” Solanco skipper Chad McDowell said. “These were learning experiences for us. Now we have to find our way. We lost some really good players from last season, and now we’re working to find our way and to find our rhythm.”
NOTES: Penn Manor had just 14 turnovers, and five of those came in the fourth quarter, when the Comets had a big lead. … Solanco out-rebounded Penn Manor by a 36-25 margin, thanks to Eshelman’s big night on the glass. … The Mules open defense of their Section Three title on Wednesday with a trip to Garden Spot.