The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 28, 2014

Girls basketball: Mifflinburg, Danville meet today for District 4 Class AAA championship

SUNBURY — Steve Moser jokingly called it “the albatross,” his Danville girls’ current three-year streak of district championship game losses.

It’s an unfortunate reality for an extremely successful program, even moreso when you consider the hard-luck Ironmen have lost the last three District 4 Class AAA title games (to Athens, Shamokin and Milton) by a TOTAL of six points.

Paging Marv Levy.

This Danville squad, however, has as many wins as Moser’s best to date (21) and it has the best player in his tenure (sophomore Amber Renz). Now it just has to find a way to win the big game.

“These girls were so nervous (for Tuesday’s district semifinals) it was unbelievable,” Moser said after the Ironmen topped Shikellamy. “I hate to see what it may be (today).”

If anything should calm the nerves, the fact that the Ironmen likely played their most self-aware game Tuesday might do the trick. They played their roles exceptionally well, displayed good shot selection, and adjusted well to tempo.

In short, Moser got difference-making contributions from every player on the floor.

“We’re a team that talks and works with each other on the court,” said Renz, who averages an area-best 21.6 points. “We just have to play the game we know how to play. That’s all we have to do.”

Danville (21-3), the repeat HAC-I champion and top seed, plays third-seeded Mifflinburg (19-5) at 4 p.m. today in Shikellamy’s Lockcuff Gymnasium. The Ironmen swept the teams’ regular-season games, winning by six (at home) and 12 points.

Danville last won a district crown in 2005. The Wildcats have yet to win one, but they enter today’s final with a month-long, seven-game win streak.

While tough-as-nails point guard Paige Harris pairs with Renz for a strong sophomore duo, Mifflinburg may trump them with 10th graders Kayla Kline and Julia McArdle-Coe. They, along with senior Sara Stauffer, have led the Wildcats’ resurgence.

Mifflinburg won just six games in the previous two seasons combined, but they’ve won more than three times as many this year with the versatile Kline scoring 14.8 ppg., post McArdle-Coe getting 12.4, and guard Stauffer dropping 9.5.

The Ironmen may not be able to match that balance (Harris follows Renz at 7.3 ppg.), but they have more consistent scoring options. All six girls who played Tuesday against Shikellamy had at least five points, and every starter had at least six. They average 51.3 points to Mifflinburg’s 49.6.

“We come with a little more firepower than before,” said Moser, “but at the same time I don’t have the same leadership that I had last year.”

Win or lose, both teams advance to the Class AAA state playoffs a week from today. The winner plays the District 2 third-place team (Pittston or Holy Redeemer), while the loser plays the District 2 champion (Scranton Prep or Abington Heights).

“Coach Moser has lost three times, and we don’t want to be known as that team that’s just second place,” said Renz. “Our town has been behind us, our fans, and we just want to prove to them that we can win the district title. We want to win so bad.”

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