KNOX, Pa. – On Friday night, Keystone used a big second quarter to secure their eighth win in eight games, defeating A-C Valley, 45-22. Keystone jumped out to a 13-8 first-quarter lead and used a long 15-2 run to take control of the contest. The Panthers continued to build their lead throughout the game’s remainder, allowing Keystone to continue their unbeaten run.
Emily Lauer scored 19 points to lead the Panthers, who also received solid offensive contributions from Danae Hurrelbrink and Jozee Weaver. Natalie Bowser also had a good game, controlling the lane with her big defensive presence. Rachel Cullen and Andrea Meals each scored seven points to lead the Falcons.
The first quarter started fast, with both teams displaying a scoring touch. Keystone’s strong defense was the difference early on, as forced turnovers and transition buckets had the Panthers surge to a quick 11-5 lead. As the quarter wore on, the pace slowed down as the two sides failed to convert their shot opportunities and struggled to get inside. Keystone was able to maintain their lead, closing the quarter up 13-8.
After the Falcons cut the lead to three, the Panthers began to assert their dominance, going on a massive 11-2 run to open up a 24-12 lead. Keystone’s off-ball movement was key in their offensive success, as they were continuously able to find open backdoor runners for easy layups. The Panthers’ defense continued to hold firm, controlling the post and forcing contested shots from the Falcons. Keystone scored four more unanswered points to finish the quarter on a 15-2 run, taking a 28-12 lead into the second half.
Keystone head coach Josh Almes credits his side’s chemistry and decision making as the catalyst behind the rally. “We really trust each other out on the court to make the right reads and make the right counters. Our kids did well with that tonight, and we appreciate their hard work. I’m pretty happy with their performance overall,” said Almes.
The third quarter took a languid pace, as both squads refused to allow points down low, preventing the teams from falling into a rhythm. Despite the lack of activity and offensive production in the period, the Panthers continued to build on their advantage holding a 39-16 lead after three quarters.
Keystone began to rotate their players with the result secure and slow down their offense in the fourth quarter. The final period was more balanced than the rest of the contest, as A-C Valley’s offense created some solid scoring opportunities down low. After running down the clock during the last two possessions, Keystone emerged with a 45-22 victory.
A postgame interview with Josh Almes
Keystone continues their unbeaten run, advancing to 9-0. The Falcons drop to 2-5. Keystone will next host Karns City on February 2, while A-C Valley will host Brockway on February 1.