They know no other way. For the fourth time in their storied careers the Susquehanna girls’ basketball senior players walked out of Mohegan Sun arena with a District II Class A title in hand and gold medals around their necks after defeating MMI Prep 49-28.
It didn’t seem like a forgone conclusion. With the Lady Sabers distracted by Friday night’s impending Distriict II/District 11 Subregional final looming, MMI Prep jumped out to an early 10-4 lead and won the first quarter 13-10 as five different Preppers found the scoring column.
With the District II/XI Subregional final looming the following evening Susquehanna’s focus may have been a little off.
“It refocused us a bit, we have to play great against everyone,” said Susquehanna Coach Kirk Fallon. “We looked at MMI’s record, and thought we’ll settle for shots from the outside. We won’t get to our strengths, but that will be okay.”
Fallon also emphasized to the team that they couldn’t sacrifice diversity at the expense of their strength.
“I don’t like to get into the habit of just throw it into the post and score,” said Fallon “But we have that advantage sometimes. Against teams that are small, we have two 6-foot girls who are strong inside.”
Darkness entered in the second quarter for MMI Prep as Susquehanna turned up the defensive intensity and crashed the offensive glass and the Lady Sabers shut out the Preppers 17-0 as Taylor Huyck scored five points and Mackenzie Steele and Meghan Kiernan chipped in with four as Susquehanna took a 27-13 lead into intermission.
“We knew we just play our game, play hard defense and that our offense would come after that,” said Steele.
Susquehanna also established itself inside getting the ball to Steele and Kiernan.
“I finally said, we’re not shooting threes anymore until the ball goes inside first,” said Fallon.
Susquehanna extended the lead in the third quarter as Huyck added five more points and and four other Lady Sabers scored to push the lead to 39-21.
Then in the fourth quarter history was made. With just over three minutes to go Huyck took a pass ahead of the pack and drove in to score career point 1,460 to surpass Nadine Taylor as the school’s all-time leading scorer for girls’ basketball.
“It’s pretty cool, but I wasn’t really thinking about before it happened,” said Huyck the next day while reflecting on the accomplishment.
Huyck didn’t know she was near the record until Fallon emphasized in a timeout that they needed to reach the milestone this game. Huyck nailed two free throws on the next possession before her milestone layup.
“She’s not a cocky player, she’s a humble person, and I knew she would think about it if I told her,” explained Fallon.
“I kept it from everyone, including her parents,” laughed Fallon.
Huyck’s 18 points led Susquehanna while she also registered five steals. Steele, Kiernan and Amanda Iveson each chipped in with six points as eight different Lady Sabers found the scoring column, and Mackenzie Decker had nine rebounds.
Fallon also took the time to reflect on what the five Seniors – Heath, Huyck, Steele along with Amanda Iveson and Geena Miller – have meant to the program and the milestones they’ve achieved.
“These seniors have contributed to the program for four years,” said Fallon. “They have laid the foundation for this program.”
Fallon explained that what has been accomplished with this group along with their teammates has an impact on the Junior High and Elementary School levels.
“Our numbers are astounding,” said Fallon. “We had 27 or 28 girls come out for Junior High this year same kind of numbers in fifth and sixth grade, and it’s because they come to the games and see these girls playing and they want to be them.”