It was a special night for the seniors Thursday, playing their final game at home, but the game had a little bit more.
It also was a playoff preview.
The Penns Valley girls’ basketball team celebrated Senior Night against Philipsburg-Osceola, and the teams will meet again Monday night in the first round of the District 6 playoffs.
“We know who we need to look at, who is going to score,” senior forward Bethany Miller said of getting the playoff preview. “We just played solid defense, and that’s something we’re very proud of here.”
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Miller had a huge night with 15 points and 20 rebounds to pace four Lady Rams in double figures in the 62-51 victory.
“It was a complete team effort tonight,” Miller said. “It was a great win and we’re coming in strong.”
Karli Ripka and Macy Ilgen each scored 13 points, Ilgen added 11 rebounds and Mackenzie Ironside posted 12 points and seven assists for Penns Valley (12-9).
The Lady Mounties (7-13) were paced by Haylee Hayward’s 24 points, 10 rebounds and four steals, and Abby Showers’ 15 points and seven rebounds.
With the teams set to tangle again Monday in Huntingdon in the Class AA first round, it was a chance to learn a little about each other, and try not to show too much to an opponent for a game with a little more importance.
“You don’t want to show your hand,” Lady Rams coach Karen McCaffrey said. “It is very tough, especially with Showers and Hayward, two very capable guards, tough to guard. Getting a peek at them before we play them will help us learn what we have to do a little differently on Monday.”
One of the things that got the attention of P-O was the balance of Penns Valley’s offense. With four girls in double figures, it makes them tough to defend.
“They’re all great shooters,” Hayward said. “They’re hard to contain with one great player, but they’re all very good, so it’s definitely a tough matchup for us.”
What also grabbed the Lady Mounties’ attention was Penns Valley’s rebounding ability. The Lady Rams pulled down 51 total rebounds, including 23 on the offensive end.
“They are very physical,” Hayward said. “They get a lot of rebounds. They box out really well. That’s something we will take into consideration for Monday.”
The leader of that rebounding effort was Miller, who snared 13 of her rebounds at the offensive end, outhustling one Lady Mountie after another for the ball. One time in the fourth quarter, she even chased down a rebound of her own missed free throw in the corner of the court, only to draw another foul, making both of those attempts from the line.
“It has amazed me all year long, with her size, she can outrebound girls who have inches on her,” McCaffrey said. “That just shows how tough she is. She’s very physical in the post. She gets the best position of anyone I have seen. Our team relies on her a lot of times to make sure we get the rebound.”
“Getting rebounds is kind of my thing,” Miller said. “I definitely felt more empowered to get rebounds. It’s Senior Night and one of my last chances to show what I can do.”
Penns Valley burst to a quick 10-2 lead to open the game, capped by a steal and layup for Ironside, and that essentially was the difference. The margin was never closer than five the rest of the night.
“It took us a little bit into the first quarter to just relax,” P-O coach Doug Myers said. “But that’s good. That’s what we wanted. That prepares us a little bit.”
The margin was as large as 15 points after back-to-back Ripka 3-pointers in the second quarter.
P-O would try to generate a comeback, both later in the second quarter and several times in the second half, but each burst would get truncated by a couple big baskets from the Lady Rams. The Lady Mounties never had a run of more than three baskets at any point in the game without a Penns Valley interruption.
“We did a nice job of stopping their runs,” McCaffrey said. “They would get a couple, then somebody would step up.”
After playing games on three straight days to close the regular season, the Lady Rams are looking forward to a little rest before the rematch.
“A lot of us are injured and have been playing on injuries for three days straight,” Miller said. “It’s definitely going to be nice to have a day break, but we’ll have to come in strong on Monday.”