UWCHLAN — Trailing by five at the half, Aryah Aungst and Downingtown East echoed the words of head coach Bob Schnure once the Cougars arrived back onto the court.
East was heavily outrebounded by Spring-Ford in the first half, especially on the offensive end. The Rams earned plenty of second chance opportunities and took advantage of them.
“Coach Schnure told us to play better team defense and get the rebounds,’ Aungst said. “That’s what we were trying to do. We just weren’t boxing out in the first half, so that’s where their points were coming from. We wanted to get the defensive rebounds.’
Aungst scored 13 points, while Paige Warfel finished with 19 as Downingtown East scored 13 unanswered points to open the second half en route to a 48-31 victory over Spring-Ford in the District 1 Class AAAA third-place game Saturday night.
The Cougars (22-7) clinched third place in District 1 and face Cedar Crest, the fourth place team from District 3, in the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA Tournament Friday night.
The Rams (17-10) face Archbishop Carroll, the third place team from District 12, in the first round of states. They finished fourth in the District 1 Class AAAA tournament.
Maggie Locke, who led Spring-Ford with nine points, and the Rams controlled the paint in the first half by getting offensive rebounds. Both of Spring-Ford’s final two baskets in the half came off putback shots as the Rams built a 24-19 lead at the break.
“We had two big problems,’ Schnure said. “They were killing us on the boards. We certainly had to do a better job there. Also, our offensive execution was little off. We needed to fix those two issues.’
Those problems were solved from the opening minute of the third quarter on as East took control of the game.
Kaelyn Johns buried a 3-pointer on the Cougars’ first possession of the quarter to cut the deficit to 24-22.
Warfel took over from there by using a size advantage in the post and getting to the line. She outrebounded Locke on a missed layup attempt and scored on the putback to give East the lead for good at 26-24 with 4:02 left in the third.
“They pressed a lot in that second half,’ Warfel said. “As soon as we were able to get the ball past half court, we had an advantage. We just looked inside for open players.’
While the Cougars were in the midst of a 13-0 run, Lindsay Kent, Laura Ochsner and Aungst shut down Locke, who was held to just one point in the second half. They also boxed out Locke on the defensive end, taking away any opportunity for Spring-Ford to earn second-chance points.
“We rely on everyone against a team like that to get the boards,’ Schnure said. “Check your girl and get the ball. Don’t stand and watch, but get in there and go get it. In the first half, it seemed like our hands were on our hips. We had them up in the air and were tracking the ball from that point.’
Kent hit a jumper to put East up 28-24 at the 3:15 mark in the third. Aungst then received a pass from Johns that went over all five Spring-Ford defenders from half court and converted the easy jumper to make it 30-24.
On East’s next possession, Aungst drove the lane and converted a tough layup to put the Cougars up 32-24 and force a Spring-Ford timeout after the Cougars scored 13 unanswered points to open the second half.
“I just tried to take open shots and if they were overplaying I drove,’ Aungst said. “Everyone else was doing the same thing too. We were taking some pretty good shots.’
East put the game away after Johns found Aungst in the lane for a short jumper to put the Cougars up 38-27 with 5:51 left. Ochsner followed with a rebound and a putback layup on East’s next possession for a 40-27 lead with 5:20 to play, sealing a third place finish for the Cougars.
The Rams shot just 12-for-52 in the game and were outscored 17-2 in the third quarter as East took over. The Cougars ended the game on a 29-7 run and shot 17-for-34 from the field.
Warfel had 13 rebounds to go with her 19 points.
Downigntown East heads into the state playoffs on a roll, winning 13 of its last 15 games. The Cougars have been playing their best basketball of the season at the appropriate time.
“We’re really playing well together now,’ Warfel said. “This win was important for us because you never want to enter states with a loss. It gave us the momentum we had back.’
“We have great momentum going right now,’ Aungst said. “I think we’re going to do great in states.’
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