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Upper Dublin’s season ends with loss to Central Dauphin in PIAA-6A first round

WEST HANOVER >> Upper Dublin’s season came to an end with a 47-23 loss against Central Dauphin in the first round of the PIAA-6A state playoffs Tuesday night at Central Dauphin High School.

The Cardinals fell behind, 3-0, on the first possession of the game and trailed the entire way. The Rams opened the game with eight straight points – two Megan Cavoli threes and a Marlie Dickerson layup.

“It’s a pick-your-poison with (Central Dauphin),” Upper Dublin coach Morgan Funsten said. “They’re so big. If they have a weakness, it’s their perimeter shooting. We come out in zone, kind of daring them to make shots, and they did. It seemed like they made four threes in the first nine minutes of the game. On top of that when they missed, we had trouble rebounding the ball. We knew it was going to be a major challenge trying to rebound the ball with their incredible size and athleticism.”

Upper Dublin gathers around coach Morgan Funsten, center, before a PIAA-6A state playoff game against Central Dauphin Tuesday. (Ed Morlock/MediaNews Group)

(1-12) Upper Dublin responded with five straight points – all from senior Geena Sarnoski – to get within three, 8-5, but that’s as close as they’d get. (3-1) Central Dauphin went on a 28-1 run from the end of the first quarter through the beginning of the third to turn an 8-5 lead into 28-6.

“Even if you’re getting shots off,” Funsten said, “(Central Dauphin’s) length is so difficult to score over or score around because they’re so athletic. They can pressure the ball and challenge you at the rim. They almost dare you to take the ball to the basket because they know they have a lot of help waiting – great shot-blockers and everything like that.”

“(Central Dauphin) has a very tall team,” Upper Dublin point guard Bliss Brenner said. “We’re challenged with our height – we don’t really have a lot of big people. It was hard to drive into the lane because then you just get blocked. They were playing Geena (Sarnoski) really tightly and she’s mostly our shooter with Amy (Ngo) out. It just made scoring a little more difficult to begin with when Amy got hurt.”

Upper Dublin’s starters, seated, wait to be introduced before a PIAA-6A state playoff game against Central Dauphin Tuesday. (Ed Morlock/MediaNews Group)

The Cardinals (17-11) did most of their scoring in the third quarter. Brenner, Sarnoski and Colleen Klammer each hit three-pointers while Klammer and Aditi Foster each made layups in the 13-point frame.

“The girls absolutely gave it their all like they always do,” Funsten said. “It was nice to see them come out in the second half and make some shots and be a little more aggressive offensively.”

The loss sends Upper Dublin to the offseason while Central Dauphin advances to face Abington, a 60-18 winner over Northeast, in the second round Friday. The Cardinals reached states despite having a young team and losing their leading scorer Ngo during the district playoffs.

“With everything we faced, we just kept fighting,” Brenner said of the season. “Especially in our CB West game – our season could’ve been over then but we just kept fighting to win that game. I think it just shows what this program is about – determination and just keep fighting. We kept fighting tonight. We didn’t get the outcome that we wanted, but I think it showed how much fight we do have and we did work hard.”

“I thought we earned a trip to states this year and we really had to battle for it,” Funsten said. “It should be a great experience for the younger girls and we’re really going to miss our three seniors.”

Brenner, Sarnoski and Klammer are the Cardinals three upperclassmen moving on after this season.

“I’ve been playing with the two other seniors since I was five,” Brenner said. “It’s more upsetting now because it was our last game all together after a lot of years. Our team was really close this year and I think it started with the three of us being super close and playing together for so long. Looking back it was a lot of fun and it’s going to be upsetting, but there’s a lot of good to look back on.”

“They’ve all been four-year program players,” Funsten said. “Bliss Brenner has been a psuedo-starter for four years. She started the last two years, started some games sophomore year as well. She was so important for us – best defender, point guard, post-defender. She has done everything for us for four years. You can’t measure what she gives us.

“Geena Sarnoski came off the bench and gave us some good minutes last year, but this year was thrown into a secondary scorer role behind Amy Ngo. Once Amy went down she was our go-to scorer and she averaged double figures. She had 55 threes on the season. She had such a great senior year.

“Colleen Klammer needed to be our big girl this year and she’s 5-8. She’s, night-after-night, battling and she was super important to us this year.”

Central Dauphin 47, Upper Dublin 23
Upper Dublin 5 1 13 4 – 23

Central Dauphin 13 13 17 4 – 47
Upper Dublin: Sanders 0 0-0 0, Brenner 1 0-0 3, Foster 1 0-0 2, Sarnoski 2 4-4 10, Klammer 2 0-0 5, B Brady 0 0-0 0, Fitzkee 0 0-1 0, Kleiman 1 0-0 2, N Brady 0 1-2 1. Total 7 5-7 23.
Central Dauphin: Dickerson 3 2-2 9, L Cavoli 0 0-0 0, M Cavoli 6 2-2 17, C Shiery 5 3-3 13, Buie 2 0-0 4, Cooper 0 0-0 0, Widnick 0 0-0 0, A Shiery 0 0-0 0, McGarvey 0 0-0 0, Ferguson 1 0-2 2, Green 1 0-0 2. Total 18 7-9 47.
3-point goals: UD: Sarnoski 2, Brenner, Klammer. CD: Dickerson, Cavoli 3.

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