Governor Mifflin tops Daniel Boone, 40-28

BIRDSBORO –Talk to most coaches, and the idea of a moral victory is something they don’t even want to hear about.

Those are for the teams that never win.

But for Daniel Boone girls basketball coach Ray Cinquanto, who has guided his extremely young Blazers squad from the cellar to the penthouse of the Berks Conference in one season, the lessons his youngsters are learning on the job this season have been monumental.

“Over the last two years being in last place to competing for first place this year and competing for districts and the playoffs is a big change,’ Cinquanto said Tuesday night after his team’s 40-28 loss to division rival Governor Mifflin. “It’s an attitude change. It’s a culture change. They just have to get used to [playing and competing in tight, meaningful games].

“This is a great learning experience for them.’

With just two seniors on the roster in starters Stephanie Sievers and Shelby Vanderslice — the only two Daniel Boone players that were on the squad the last time the team was successful — Cinquanto has had to lean on his underclassmen to provide the crucial depth this season, and on his seniors for their leadership.

“Our two seniors know what it is like to get to the playoffs and what to expect, so their leadership is enormous,’ Cinquanto said. “This is their team. This is their last year so they are giving it their all. They are just incredible girls and they are going to have great futures in front of them. They are very good leaders.’

Unfortunately, on Tuesday night, Governor Mifflin had other ideas.

The Mustangs shook off a first-period funk and showed why they sit atop the Berks Conference Division I with a combination of timely baskets and smothering defense to deal Daniel Boone a second-straight loss to their conference rivals in a little over 15 days.

“I can’t really point to one thing that really went wrong. I think we are a young team. A lot of us haven’t been in these situations [tight games] and we get down when we make one mistake,’ Sievers said. “What we’ve really been trying to get across, though, is you can’t make that one mistake let your whole game go.

“[Tuesday night], we battled hard, and just didn’t get some calls, and that turned around the game, but we just kept getting too frustrated on the offensive end. We’d set up and look around as if to say ‘ what do we do?’ And that is not our game. But [Governor Mifflin] played great, and they deserve all they’ve got this season. I have all the respect for them in the world. They are a great team.’

The Blazers actually struck first blood in the game, jumping out to 6-5 lead after one period on baskets from Sievers, Vanderslice and Julia Bookwalter, but the Mustangs answered back with a 12-6 run in the second period, including a pair of late 3-pointers right before the end of the half, to take a 17-12 lead.

The Blazers tried to make a game out of it in the second half, and cut the deficit to three at 17-14 with 6:32 to play in the period, but Governor Mifflin answered with an 8-4 run to jump out to a 28-21 lead.

From there on out, it was all Mustangs as they outscored Daniel Boone, 12-7 down the stretch to solidify the victory.

“We had a lot of unforced turnovers which hurt us [on the offensive end]. But give them credit; they play great defense,’ Cinquanto said. “Some of those turnovers were defensive turnovers and they are a great team. You have to be at the top of your game to beat them. We’re going to be going to the playoffs and districts and we will meet again, and it will be another battle. They are a great team, and very well-coached.

“The last two years, this team hasn’t been in any tight, meaningful games in January. Now, we are getting in those tough games, and we have to learn how to win them, and finish teams off,’ Cinquanto said. “It’s just a process that we have to go through.’

And the lesson that he hopes his young squad learned in the process.

“Look forward,’ he said. “We have districts coming up. We have playoffs coming up. We have a lot more games to play and this is not the end of our season. One game does not make a season. It’s those 20-odd something games we played before tonight that got us to this point, so one game doesn’t make it.’

Sievers agreed.

“I would love to see [the Mustangs] again, and I hope we can learn from this [loss], because I want to come out that next game and show them that we can hang with them. We’re going to learn from this.’

NOTES — Sievers led all Daniel Boone scorers on the night with 12 points, while Vanderslice chipped in with nine in the losing effort. … Jennifer Martin led Governor Mifflin with 10 points, while Kylie Herman and Medison Koehler each added seven on the night.

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