By Lisa Byers
PENN HILLS —
General McLane has done a number of things well to get where it is this season.
But when it comes to establishing a game plan against the Lady Lancers, opponents tend to focus on one prime area: The 3-pointer. And with good reason. General McLane, after all, has been shooting lights out from behind the arc in the postseason. It had 10 in a 68-47 win over Neshannock in the opening round.
General McLane showed Tuesday night, however, that limiting the 3-pointers opens up other opportunities.
Michelle Jahn scored a team-high 22 points, including seven from the free-throw line, and Celeste Seidel added 15 to points lead the Lancers to a 45-39 win over Tussey Mountain in the second round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs at Penn Hills High School.
General McLane improved to 24-3 on the year with the win and advances to the state quarterfinals where it will face Burrell, a 34-29 winner over Bellwood-Antis, on Friday at a site and time to be determined. Tussey Mountain ends its season at 24-2.
While Tussey Mountain’s plan coming in was to shut down the Lancers’ 3-point attempts, it was the trey that got the Lancers in the game.
A two-and-a-half hour bus ride and lengthy wait before the start of the game contributed to a sluggish start by the Lancers, who trailed 9-8 after a quarter of play. That lead increased to three (11-8) just 30 seconds into the second quarter on a pair of free throws by Amanda Stoudnour.
Michelle Jahn knotted it up for the Lancers at 11 with her first 3-pointer of the game. Two possessions later, the Titans were back in front by three (14-11). Enter, again, Jahn.
Jahn hit her second 3-pointer with 3:38 to play in the half to tie it at 14.
Tussey Mountain contained the 3-pointer for the most part the rest of the way, but General McLane never trailed again.
“They took away the 3,” General McLane coach Sarah Jay said. “But my girls were attacking the hoop. And they saw that. They saw on film that they could attack (the Tussey Mountain) girls.
“It’s a credit to my girls to be able to adjust; to know we can come out one game and shoot the lights out of the 3 and the next game we come out and take care of business by attacking the hoop.”
It was the Lancers’ tenacity driving to the hoop that proved to be the difference late.
McLane was able to extend its lead to 10 (33-23) with 1:15 to play in the third quarter after a number of solid moves and drives for layups by Jahn and Celeste Seidel. But the Titans, led by nine points from Morgan Lynn, rallied back and pulled to within just two (38-36) with just under four minutes to play.
Tussey had an opportunity to tie it up but was called for a travel. Laura Schaefer was fouled at the opposite end of the court. She made one of two free-throw attempts to extend the Lancers’ lead to three (39-36).
From there, General McLane ate the clock and forced Tussey to foul. The Lancers made 8 of 9 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
McLane finished the game with four 3-pointers but had just one in the second half.
“We knew we just had to go out there and shoot well and play defense,” Seidel said of the Lancers’ second-half approach. “We had to pass the ball around and be unselfish.”
The win allows the Lancers to cross off yet another goal from their list: To advance a step farther than last year. Now, they can focus on the ultimate goal.
“We want to make it to the state championship game. … And win,” Seidel said.
The Lancers are two wins away from reaching that championship game on March 21 at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Jahn had a total of six field goals — three of which were 3-pointers — but dazzled the crowd with her moves to the hoop, which helped her get to the foul line six times in the first quarter alone.
“She is taking every time and they are just letting her,” one fan exclaimed to a friend early in the third quarter. “She’s tearing it up.”
Jahn has been tearing it up the entire postseason. With her 22 points against Tussey, Jahn has 94 points total in five postseason games, including 17 3-pointers.
Lynn led Tussey Mountain, which set a program record for wins this season at 24, with 20 points. Breana Kendrick added nine points.