Falcons' Fire Power Takes Down Bullets, Secures Championship
By Bryn Swartz, GoMessiah.com reporter
But, incredibly, that's exactly what happened as Messiah defeated Gettysburg 67-58 in the championship game of the Days Inn tournament.
"It was a fantastic basketball game. That's one of the best games I've been a part of and Gettysburg played really, really well," said Miller of the championship game played in the Gettysburg tournament. "We played really well the whole way through, and the fact that we were even with them despite them shooting that well for the first 25 minutes? It means that we also played really well."
For the game, Gettysburg shot 23 of 44 (52 percent) but they started by making 20 of their first 25 field goal attempts, giving them a seven-point lead early in the second half. From there, Messiah held Gettysburg to just 3 of 19 shooting over the final 15 minutes of the game, giving their offense an opportunity to take the victory.
"We pride ourselves on defense, but it was more what Gettysburg was doing than what we were doing," Miller said. "We kept hanging in there (with our play). We finally changed some things around and did more up-tempo pressing, which we don't normally do, and that kind of got them out of rhythm."
From the start of the game, it seemed like it would be Messiah's night. The Falcons took an 8-0 lead behind a pair of three pointers by sophomore Taylor Miller. But Gettysburg rallied and scored the next nine to take a 9-8 lead.
The rest of the first half featured seven lead changes, and the Falcons clung to a 33-32 lead at halftime, despite Gettysburg's impressive shooting percentage. Gettysburg made their first six shots of the second half, which gave them their 44-37 lead. The Falcons held Gettysburg scoreless over the next 5:39, and regained the lead with an 11-0 run.
Gettysburg pulled to within three with just over three minutes remaining in the game, but Messiah nailed all eight of their free throw attempts in the final 1:16 to clinch the victory.
For the game, junior Katlyn Vanderhoff led the squad with 20 points, in what Coach Miller called her "best game in a Messiah uniform." She took home the Sally Musselman MVP honors for the tournament. Classmate Dori Gyori scored 14 and was also named to the All-Tournament team. Miller added 16, Nicky Hess scored nine, and Kira Maier scored five.
As a team, the Falcons turned the ball over just 10 ten times, including only two in the second half. They also grabbed 14 steals, compared to only four by Gettysburg.
With the loss, Gettysburg falls to 4-6 on the season.
The victory, Messiah's fourth in a row, improved the team to 9-3 this season. When factoring in the quality of play from his team over the past few games, Coach Miller believed the Falcons are playing their best basketball of the season.
"That's easy to say," Miller said. "This is the best we've done, and we keep getting a little bit better."
The Falcons will play their first home game in six weeks on Saturday when they host DeSales University at 3:00 p.m.