By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
Like a sprinter, Maci Bower exploded forward with her finish line in sight at the other end of the floor.
Bower anticipated a pass at midcourt and jumped in front for a clear path to a layup.
While it was just one shot, Maci Bower set the tone for the Quakers and for her basketball-playing siblings, as the Bower trio combined for 49 points to lead Millville past Upper Dauphin, 56-33, in the first round of the PIAA Class A tournament at the Whitey McCloskey Center on Saturday.
You likely couldn’t fault Upper Dauphin (13-14) if they had to do a double-take on defense, with Madi Bower joining her sister to take the game over.
Maci Bower scored a game-high 28 points for the Quakers (25-0), while Madi Bower added 21 points and 20 rebounds. The third member of the Bower clan, Morgan Bower, was held out of the scoring column, but she was active on the glass and on defense with five rebounds and four steals.
Showing no ill effects after she left the court briefly in the second quarter after falling to the floor hard on a layup attempt, Maci Bower filled the stat sheet in the third quarter, with 12 of her 28 points coming in the third.
“I just kept going hard until (the pain) wore off,” Maci Bower said.
While Maci Bower was away, her teammates kept the lead steady at the same 13-point margin as when the junior exited the game.
With its full-court press working to near-perfection and using fast feet and hands inside the perimeter to prevent Upper Dauphin from scoring, Millville was able to keep the lead in double digits throughout the second half.
“(Upper Dauphin) had a good defense, but somehow, we played (more) aggressive than them,” Maci Bower said.
Trading buckets early on and feeding each other on a majority of those shots, Madi Bower and Maci Bower combined for all 17 of Millville’s points in the first quarter, leading the Quakers’ offensive attack and helping to stifle Upper Dauphin on offense.
The Trojans scored on a pair of jumpers from Kelsey Hoffman to keep the game within reach and stemmed a 7-0 Millville run late in the quarter with Cameron Koppenhaver hitting a layup.
“(Upper Dauphin) really got on the boards early,” Millville coach Michael Belles said. “Their height was a challenge for our girls. They got some early, easy looks that we wanted to prevent.”
A quick break in the action between quarters did nothing to cool off Millville’s offense or the juggernaut that was Madi Bower and Maci Bower.
Quickly turning defense into offense, the Quakers frequently found themselves a foot from the basket for a layup, with a host of Quakers there to rebound any misses.
And rebound they did.
Regardless of whether she was alone or with multiple Trojans surrounding her, Madi Bower crashed the glass and pulled down rebounds, ending the first half with a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
While Madi Bower and Maci Bower dominated the scoring column for the Quakers, Upper Dauphin used a balanced scoring attack led by McKenzie Miller with nine points.
“We started hitting some shots and rebounded a little better,” Upper Dauphin coach Richard Hoffman said.
After leading by 12 at the half, Millville opened the second half by scoring 17 of the first 19 points to pull away.
Hanging tough late in the game, the Trojans scored six straight points in the fourth quarter on a pair of jumpers and a pair of free throws.