LOYSBURG - During the opening moments of Thursday's game between the Everett and Northern Bedford County girls basketball teams, the sound echoed out of the Lady Panther student section and fans chanted for their defense.
The home faithful couldn't have been more pleased.
Until the fourth quarter.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Northern Bedford’s Leah Hershberger leans into Everett’s Baylee Beegle.
With Northern leading after three quarters, 22-20, the scoring opened up in a fast paced fourth quarter that saw a combined 39 points scored as the Lady Panthers went on to defeat Everett on senior night, 43-38.
"We didn't shoot well," Everett coach Keith Moyer said of the slow offensive start. "The shots fell in the fourth quarter that weren't falling in the first three [quarters]. We just didn't finish."
The Lady Warriors had entered the game on an eight-game winning streak, winning each game by an average of more than 20 points.
Their last loss came almost a month ago to the same Northern Bedford squad.
"We knew it would be a tough, physical game," Northern Bedford coach Todd Eckenroad said.
The Lady Warriors managed just two field goals in the first half, with top offensive threats Bailey Morral and Aubrea Phipps held to a combined two points.
"The girls gave an excellent effort defensively," Eckenroad said. "They [Phipps and Morral] will get their points, but I'm proud of how we defended."
Morral found her shot in the second half, finishing with 14 points, while Phipps had five.
Northern wouldn't do much better with just five first half field goals, and held on to the lead at halftime, 14-12.
With senior guard Cierra Cottle on the bench much of the second half in foul trouble, it was leading scorer Leah Hershberger and fellow seniors that carried the load down the stretch for Northern Bedford.
Trailing 34-33 with 2:54 remaining, Hannah Drenning put Northern ahead with a 3-pointer that give it the lead for good.
Hershberger hit seven of eight free throws in the final minutes to seal the victory.
"All of the seniors stepped up," Eckenroad said. "The kids really wanted the win on senior night."
Hershberger finished with a game-high 16 points, and Cottle added 10.
"It's exciting for the seniors," Hershberger said. "It was definitely a team effort."
While it was a tough loss for Everett, Moyer realizes that it must move on to focus on the rest of the season.
"I didn't say much to the girls after [the game]," Moyer said. "It's just one game so we have to work hard the next two days to get ready for the next one."
For Eckenroad and the Lady Panthers, the victory was a perfect finish to the home careers of the six graduating seniors.
"The senior group will be missed," Eckenroad said. "I've been coaching most of these girls for years and they have had a huge impact on our program."
"I'm going to miss playing in this environment with girls I've been playing with for eight or nine years," Hershberger said. "I am excited to get to the playoffs."
Everett will conclude its regular season on Monday at Tussey Mountain, and Northern Bedford will finish at Claysburg on Wednesday.
EVERETT (38): B. Morral 4 3-4 14, Phipps 2 1-2 5, Duvall 2 0-0 4, Beegle 1 4-9 6, Rice 1 3-4 5, Snider 1 2-3 4, K. Morral 0 0-0 0. Totals - 11 13-22 38.
NORTHERN BEDFORD (43): Hershberger 3 9-11 16, Cottle 4 0-0 10, Smith 2 2-2 7, Clark 0 1-2 1, Drenning 2 1-2 6, Beach 1 1-4 3, Cronrath 0 0-0 0. Totals - 12 14-21 43.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Everett4 8 8 18 - 38
Northern Bedford5 9 8 21 - 43
3-point goals: Everett 3 (B. Morral 3); Northern Bedford 5 (Cottle 2, Hershberger 1, Smith 1, Drenning 1).
Records: Everett (16-5; 10-3 Sideling Hill); Northern Bedford (15-6; 11-3 Sideling Hill).
JV: Everett, 50-34. High scorers-RIce, Everett, 19; Leidy, NB, 16.