MONTGOMERY - Jessica Scampone made a big play when she scored off an offensive putback and gave Montgomery a third-quarter lead it never relinquished. But in a game where every point was precious, it was not that Scampone scored, it was how she scored that told the story.
Already weak from sickness, Scampone missed a layup but kept hustling, raced to the other side of the basket, grabbed the rebound and scored. It was a play that symbolized both Montgomery's performance Tuesday and throughout its upward ascension the last few weeks.
Corrine Shaffer scored 12 points, Scampone grabbed nine rebounds and Montgomery edged pesky South Williamsport, 27-24. The Red Raiders (9-8) moved above .500 for the first time and won for the fifth time in six games. Montgomery has shown its talent throughout its surge, but this win was more about its character than anything else.
Corrine Shaffer of Montgomery tries to keep a loose ball from South’s Roxie Keller Tuesday at Montgomery. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"This win tonight showed more guts and more fortitude than we had earlier in the season," Montgomery coach Craig Weaver said. "Half the team is sick and for these girls to come out and play and give what they could is really neat to see."
"I'm excited. When we were down at 4-7 I was worried we weren't going to make playoffs but now that we're above .500 I think we should," Shaffer said. "When we were at South we were ahead at halftime and ended up losing by seven so I think coming back and beating them this time was a good statement."
This time Montgomery was the one that came from behind, overcoming a five-point second-quarter deficit that it trimmed to one by halftime. Scampone (6 points, 9 rebounds) put the Raiders ahead to stay, scoring off her putback with 1:35 remaining in the third quarter.
Scampone, like all the Raiders, made several hustle plays that produced big plays. She played most of the game and added an assist to Sidney Schoch on the ensuing possession as Montgomery took a 23-20 lead into the final quarter.
Shaffer hit a long 3-pointer to put Montgomery ahead by six on the fourth-quarter's opening possession and the Raider defense was so good that the basket ultimately became a game-winner since South scored just four points the rest of the way. Montgomery allowed only nine second-half points and held Jen Jackson, who played a strong, game without a second-half point.
"Earlier this season our defense wasn't perfect but we talk a lot better now. We communicate better and know who to key on and who not to," Shaffer said. "I think we've worked a lot better as a team."
South (3-12) is a better team than its record indicates and matched Montgomery's intensity. The Mounties, a young team that has lost several close games, pulled within 27-24 midway through the fourth quarter on Sarah March's 3-point play but neither team scored again.
The Mounties never buckled after a long layoff, and had two good looks in the game's final 10 seconds. March just missed a long shot from the corner that Katie Scarborough (9 rebounds) rebounded. Following a missed free throw, March sprinted upcourt and launched a shot from beyond NBA 3-point range that nearly went in, rolling off the back of the rim before falling off the front end.
"It was back and forth all night and it might not have been a fun game to watch point-wise but both teams were just battling each other hard on both ends," South coach Mike Allison said. "I feel bad for the seniors who are getting an opportunity this year and I know winning is important, but you ask them to play as hard as they can and they have done that."
Jackson has had a big year and scored 12 points while grabbing 11 rebounds. She was especially tough in the first half and her putback gave South its biggest lead, 13-8 midway through the second quarter. Freshman Anna Steer provided a spark off the bench, scoring five points and grabbing six rebounds, while March had four assists.
Shaffer ran Montgomery's offense well and both she and Scarborough hit second-quarter 3-pointers to make it a one-point game by halftime. Scampone, Dionna Satteson and Emily Shnyder made big impacts in the second half and finished with a combined 24 rebounds. Schoch scored four points in the third quarter and Montgomery showed the kind of toughness that has characterized its comeback from a 4-7 start.
"Earlier in the season things weren't clicking. They were hearing, but they weren't getting it," Weaver said. "Our basketball on the floor showed that and the last eight games they are seeing things, they are making nice passes. The things they weren't seeing early in the year, they are seeing now and I hope it's coming together at the right time."
Jen Jackson 5 2-2 12, Sarah March 1 2-3 4, Alisha Wein 0 0-0 0, Roxie Keller 0 1-2 1, Anna Steer 2 1-2 5, Kaylnn Wheeland 0 0-0 0, Jourdan Boehmer 1 0-0 2. Totals 9 6-9 24.
Corrine Shaffer 4 2-5 12, Katie Scarborough 1 0-1 3, Sidney Schoch 2 0-0 4, Jessica Scampone 3 0-0 6, Emily Shnyder 1 0-0 2, Dionna Satteson 0 0-2 0, Kaylie Harer 0 0-0 0, Rachel Hite 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 2-8 27.
South6 9 5 4-24
Montgomery6 8 9 4-27
3-pointers: Montgomery 3 (Shaffer 2, Scarborough).
Records: Montgomery 9-8. South 3-12.
JV Score: South 27-21
High Scorers: Kelsey Gantz, Megan Allison, Liz Cummings, S, 6 each; Satteson, M, 9