February 13th, 2018

Cougars get special win on senior night

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

Cougars get special win on senior night
Holy Cross senior Halle Snyder gets position for a rebound. She finished with 16 points/photo by Eric Thorne

The Holy Cross girls’ basketball team shed some tears Monday night, but it was the ones of joy after a 40-28 home victory over Presentation on Senior Night that were the most gratifying.

For the five senior Cougars it began as a tribute to playing their final game in the Holy Cross gym. But 32 minutes later it was jubilation as they celebrated their first victory against the Toppers in eight tries over the past four seasons.

“This win means everything to me right now,” said senior Halle Snyder who led the Cougars with 16 points. “I’ve been wanting this all four years, and we wanted this one tonight. We had something to prove with that chip on our shoulders.”

For seniors Kailey Reed, Madison Turner, Lauren Schruat, Natalie Luckett and Snyder they will cherish hearing the students chant “Thank you seniors” as they ran out the clock. Their coach Olivia Moore gave each a hug while holding back tears of her own.

“The first win for them and I’ve wanted it for them for so long, but each and every game has been a close one we just couldn’t quite win,” Moore said. “This is a special one for sure and they are like my babies. I started here four years ago as junior varsity coach, and the past two as head coach so we’ve been through this journey together.”

Presentation (12-16) saw its only lead on an opening basket by Madison Perkins. From there it was more of an offensive nightmare for both teams. Yet the Cougars (16-9) offset that with their best defensive effort of the year.

After Perkins’ basket Holy Cross went on a 10-2 run fueled by a pair of put-backs from Turner to start the run. They finished it off with a lay in from Snyder as the Toppers went scoreless for three minutes.

Droughts and runs were common from that point on. Presentation closed out the quarter on a 7-2 run with a three pointer from Lili Cortese and a pair of free throws by Nicole Kuchma.

Presentation then went the first 4:30 of the second quarter without scoring while Holy Cross dropped in eight points. The climaxed with Snyder draining a three pointer followed by Reed banking in a three from the top of the circle making it 20-9.

“This tonight was the ultimate crazy type of atmosphere you want to play in,” Reed said. “We haven’t beat them the past four years, but to do it tonight on senior night with my four best friends is the ultimate feeling.”

The two teams played a double overtime thriller earlier this season with Presentation winning 73-70 in the All-A Classic. The previous seven games have been decided by an average of 4.7 points.

“Always a battle with both teams always bringing it every time,” Reed said. “We knew this time we had to win with defense and that’s what we did. We’re playing well, and I think we’re over the hump from mid-season and here we are.”

Moore implored and encouraged her team to turn up the defense and they responded by diving all over the floor and creating some havoc for the Toppers.

“We’ve preached all year long that defense is what’s going to win us ball games. Recently they’ve bought into it, and honestly this is the best rotation I’ve ever seen us do,” Moore said. “I told them our shots will fall when we make stops, run in transition and that makes things happen.”

Then it was the Cougars turn to come away empty the rest of the half while Courtney Jackson dropped in a pair a baskets to seal a 6-0 run to pull the Toppers to within 20-15 at the half.

Presentation played most of the second quarter and the remainder of the game without point guard Jaelin Thompson who went the bench with 5:52 left unable to catch her breath.

“Yes that really hurt not being able to have Jaelin play and we lost our backup point guard Olivia Brown in the JV game when she got hit in the head,” Toppers coach David Jackson said. “We kind of lost our composure, and had a hard time running the offense without both point guards.”

Jackson opened the second half with a lay in off an assist from Kuchma, but then were forced into turnovers and missed shots for the next 3:28 falling behind 23-17.

“We weren’t calming down, relaxing and couldn’t get through their traps and that really prevented us from running our offense,” Courtney Jackson said. “That happens to us sometimes where we make a run then go on a run of turnovers. You obviously can’t score 28 points and hope to get a win.”

Still the Toppers were in the game as Holy Cross could only muster a free throw in four minutes and Maddie Ruxar’s three-pointer pulled Pres to within 24-22.

Turner stymied the threat with a three-pointer to start a 7-2 Cougar run.

“We made a run late in the first half and again in the fourth, but we just couldn’t get the lead back,” David Jackson said. “You can’t have the number of turnovers we had, and we had some momentum swings that were tough to recover from.”

Presentation got as close as 31-27 when Kuchma drained a three pointer with 5:20 left in the game, but the Toppers would only get one free throw the rest of the way.

Courtney Jackson led the Toppers with nine points.

“I can’t say enough about these girls because we’ve made some great memories together, and while they are more like best friends they really respect me as a coach and I them as players,” Moore said. “To get this win tonight means to world to them and the program. We’ve set our sights high and we’ve got a lot more basketball to play. Our goal is to repeat as district champions and then maybe host a regional game.”

Snyder and her teammates will relish the win for a short time before traveling to Bethlehem on Thursday.

“It’s sad this is our last home game tonight, but I think we finished the best we could ever imagined,” Synder said as she draped her senior sash across her uniform and clutched it tight. “This was by far the best defense we’ve ever played, and this is a memory I will cherish because I got to share with these girls.



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