EDINBORO — Loaded with senior leadership and experience, the Meadville girls basketball team was expected to be not only one of the best Class AAA teams in District 10, but in the state as well.

And on Tuesday, the Lady Bulldogs set out to prove that even though they’ve stumbled a bit over the last month, they fully intend on living up to those earlier expectations when it comes to down to crunch time.

Meadville pulled off one of its biggest wins under head coach Dean Henderson yesterday, topping state-ranked General McLane, 45-35.

The Lady Bulldogs improved to 17-6 overall and 9-4 in Region 4. The Lancers, ranked No. 9 in the state in Class AAA according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News, dropped out of a tie with Mercyhurst Prep for first place in Region 4, falling to 19-4 overall and 11-2 in the region.

“We wanted this win so bad,” Meadville senior Jackie DeRemer said. “We’ve never beaten General McLane (in league play). They are an awesome team, and to beat them finally is the best feeling ever.”

The Lady Bulldogs weren’t so sure they had it in them yesterday, though. With nearly every member battling the flu, Meadville wasn’t sure it would be able to keep the intensity needed to beat a team like General McLane.

And early in the first half it looked like the ’Dogs were right as General McLane led by as many as eight through the first 12-plus minutes of the contest.

But after a bucket by Stephanie Molnar that put the Lancers up 18-10 with 4:14 left to play in the first half, the Bulldogs seemed to flip a switch. And roughly two minutes later the Bulldogs had cut that lead to just one, 18-17. That’s where the score remained heading into the locker room.

So much for a lack of intensity.

“We were a little nervous coming in,” DeRemer said. “The whole team has been going through this sickness — everybody is getting the flu. So we didn’t know if we were going to play to our full potential, and we knew we were going to have to play extra hard.”

Meadville really turned up the intensity in the third quarter and within 30 seconds had taken a 20-18 lead on a 3-pointer by Lindsay Heller. Heller’s bucket sparked a 5-0 run by the Bulldogs that allowed them to take a 25-18 lead.

General McLane was able to cut that lead to just one twice (25-24, 27-26). Meadville closed out the third quarter, though, with a 7-2 run, capped by DeRemer’s buzzer-beater, to take a 34-26 lead into the final quarter.

The Bulldogs outscored General McLane, 17-8, in the third quarter on 7-of-15 shooting from the field. It was also the only quarter in which Meadville won the battle of the boards (7-4).

Ashley Dougherty pulled the Lancers to within three points (36-33) with 3:51 to play on McLane’s first 3-pointer of the game. But Meadville did a nice job at their end working the clock, forcing the Lancers to start fouling.

The Bulldogs responded by hitting 9-of-12 free throw attempts to secure the victory.

“It was a great team effort,” Henderson said. “The kids deserved this after struggling for the last month or so. We were up and down. Hopefully, this is something that will throw us into the playoffs and give us some momentum.

“I’ve had teams before that weren’t supposed to do anything and they went pretty far, so …”

DeRemer led the Bulldogs with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Heller added 12 points. Abby Henderson and Emily Mottillo added six points each.

For the Lancers, who shot just 13-of-49 (26.5 percent), Sarah Hansen led the way with 11 points. Julia Myers chipped in with eight points and Val Majewski added seven.

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