LEBANON >> Picking up two fouls in the first quarter sent North Penn’s Irisa Ye to the bench irritated and motivated.
“I was frustrated with myself cause she’s good player, she’s fast. So she knew how to draw the fouls,” said Ye of Cedar Crest’s Ariel Jones. “And it was more of a feeling out period in the first couple minutes, but after I figured it out, so two fouls wasn’t bad, so I told coach, I was like I’m not getting any more fouls cause I knew what I was going to do.”
Ye came back midway through the second quarter as the Knights’ defense was stout but shooting struggles had North Penn up just two at halftime. But In the third quarter, Ye and North Penn got both in sync.
Ye scored 12 of her game-high 21 points as North Penn’s defense wore down District 3’s third-place side in the third, outscoring the Falcons 21-8 in the period in pulling away for a 53-34 victory in the PIAA Class 6A first round Friday night at Lebanon High School.
“I just didn’t want to think about it. I took what the defense gave me. And I knew our shots weren’t falling, but they were bound to fall,” Ye said. “We had to keep shooting. We couldn’t just stop shooting even if our shots weren’t falling. At least one of them was going to fall, so I just kept shooting.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) March 11, 2017
Huber added 13 points for the Knights, which held Cedar Crest to just 14 points in the second half and advanced to the state second round for a fifth consecutive season.
North Penn (24-4) faces Suburban One League Continental Conference rival Central Bucks East in the round of 16 Tuesday at a site and time to be announced. The Patriots, District 1’s 10th place team, defeated District 11 champ Easton 57-51 in the first round.
“Irisa was just on fire, she showed up to play and it was great, we needed her,” Huber said. “What’s great about this team is anyone on court can come and score 20 or 20-plus. So I think her showing up and hitting key shots was huge for us. Even though that none of us could come out and hit shot, she was there.”
Jones paced Cedar Crest (27-2) with 15 points – six coming after halftime as NP made it tougher for the senior guard to find open paths to the basket. The Knights also limited the Falcons’ other options. Crest’s next leading scorer was Rachel Witherite, who collected all nine of her points on three first-half threes.
“Just contain (Jones) and making sure we were playing a fundamental defense,” Ye said. “We were reaching in too much in the second quarter, so the third quarter we cleaned it up, cleaned up our fouls a bit more and just played fundamental defense on help line.”
North Penn led by seven twice in the second quarter, the last at 22-15 before Cedar Crest – which began the season 26-0 – scored the last five points of the half, cutting NP’s advantage to 22-20 at the break.
The Knights again put some distance between themselves and the Falcons in the third quarter, but this time NP’s defense did not allow Cedar Crest to get back into the contest.
Ye drained a three and Huber scored on a drove was fouled – she did not make the and-1 – for a 27-20 lead at 6:25. Jones made two free throws at 5:46, but Ye buried another triple then scored after a Sam Carangi steal to put North Penn up 10.
“It feels great. That’s why I love being the best defender cause defense gets our offense going,” Ye said. “So as you can see that’s part of the reason why third quarter we kind of going offensively cause we got fast breaks off our defensive steals.”
Two Jones free throws at 2:33 had the Falcons within eight at 34-26. The Knights, however, responded by finishing the third on a 9-2 run.
Carangi – who had eight on the night – knocked down a three for a 37-26 advantage. Ye came up with a steal and layup with a Huber breakaway layup extending the lead to 41-26. A basket inside by CC’s Raven Morgan was answered by a Ye jumper, sending NP into the fourth ahead by 15.
“She’s really worked on her game,” said North Penn coach Maggie deMarteleire of Ye “Probably the most diverse game on our team because she’s improved her three so she can hit that and she has a nice pull-up jumper – beautiful – and she can attack the basket, so she really is our most diverse offensive player.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) March 11, 2017
Alyssa Austin got Cedar Crest within 43-30 but Carangi’s steal and layup began an 8-0 run which gave North Penn its largest lead at 51-30 after two Carangi free throws at 3:00.
In the opening quarter, a Ye jumper had North Penn up 8-5, but a Witherite three and a Jones basket had the Falcons ahead 10-8. Bri Hewlett’s putback just before buzzer had the game level 10-10 after eight minutes.
North Penn started the second quarter with a 9-2 run, the last four points by Ye to make it 19-12 Knights.
Witherite hit a three but Huber answered with a triple to have NP up seven again, but a Jones drive and Witherite’s third trey of the half had the Falcons within two at the break.
Top Photo: North Penn’s Sam Carangi (23) swarms Cedar Crest’s Gracen Donmoyer to force a turnover during their PIAA Class 6A playoff game on Friday, March 10, 2017. (Austin Hertzog/Digital First Media)