JOHNSTOWN – A change in the defense was all the Johnstown Lady Bills needed to shut down the Greenville Lady Spartans during Wednesday night’s Section II Class B first-round game.
After giving up 10 points in the first quarter with their press, Johnstown switched to a half-court defense, which quieted Greenville’s offense and lifted the Lady Bills to a 49-35 victory in their final game of the season at Johnstown High School.
“I didn’t like the shots we gave up in the first quarter,” Johnstown coach Tim Derwin said. “We gave up a lot of stuff in transition. Our press was giving up stuff on the backside and we got out of that and just decided just decided to play good, half-court man defense. I thought from the beginning of the second quarter on and into the second half, we played real solid defense.”
The move worked.
Emma Heroth hit a layup 42 seconds into the second quarter, starting a four-point run that gave the Lady Bills a 17-10 lead and the half-court man defense held Greenville off the board for most of the period’s first three minutes, until Greenville’s Carly Johnson connected on a layup, cutting Johnstown’s lead to five points.
Hope Cerasuolo had an immediate answer with a 3-point bucket to give the Lady Bills an eight-point lead with 5:14 to go in the quarter. She followed that a minute later with two free throws as the Lady Bills took their first 10-point lead of the night.
“We knew they were a lower seed and we kept telling ourselves and the coaches said we can’t underestimate them,” Cerasuolo said. “You just have to play them as if they’re the hardest team you can play, and play our hardest and not go easy because they’re the lower seed.”
After Cerasuolo’s five-point swing, Greenville’s Heather Carl answered by converting a three-point play and Mackenzie Kiefer hit a 3-pointer and the lead was suddenly cut to four points.
But the Lady Bills weathered the storm as Courtney Cirillo knocked down a pair of free throws and Annie Stock scored on a putback to give Johnstown a 26-18 lead at the half.
Cerasuolo opened the second half with her second 3-point bucket, but again Johnstown’s offense went dry, this time for five minutes until Cerasuolo ended the drought by hitting two free throws.
However, the defense kept Greenville (11-8 overall) at a distance by only allowing five points during that stretch.
Cirillo hit a layup with 1:07 to go in the quarter sending the Lady Bills into the fourth quarter with a 33-23 lead.
“In the fourth quarter, we just took care of the ball nicely,” Derwin said. “Jenna Hohenforst made some big shots, as did Hope Cerasuolo and everybody. It was a good win.”
Hohenforst scored two buckets around a layup by Greenville’s Sarah Amedure to push the Lady Bills’ lead to 14 points, 39-25.
“She started for us early in the year,” Derwin said. “She’s always been a player who had minutes, but tonight was absolutely exceptional. She made shots. She made steals. Her defense was steals. She really played to the next level.”
The Lady Bills (11-8 overall) will go on the road Saturday night to face No. 2 Tamarac, which routed No. 15 Corinth, 61-17, on Tuesday, at 7:30 p.m. The other semifinal between No. 6 Hudson Falls and No. 3 Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk will be played immediately before.
The two teams played early in the season, Dec. 4, a game Tamarac won, 50-54.
“It was our game to win at the end of that game down there last time, and the kids know it,” Derwin said. “They’ve got an outstanding point guard and they’ve got a nice forward. They’ve got a 6-footer, but our game all year has been the effort and the half-court defense and out of that creates our offense. If we can play, good solid defense and keep the pace where we want it, we’ll see what happens.”
Johnstown 49, Greenville 35
Greenville10 8 5 12 – 35
Johnstown13 13 7 16 – 49
Johnson 5-2-12, Amedure 2-0-4, Staunch 2-0-4, Carl 3-2-8, Kiefer 2-2-7. Totals: 14-6-35.
Heroth 2-2-6, Swatt 1-0-2, Hohenforst 3-0-6, Stock 3-0-6, Cerasuolo 3-4-12, O’Rourke 2-3-7, Cirillo 1-8-10. Totals: 15-17-49.
3-point goals: Greenville 1 (Kiefer); Johnstown 2 (Cerasuolo 2).