By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
The only known commodity for the Shikellamy girls basketball team at the start of the season was four-year starter Alex Angstadt. For the Braves to be successful, coach Lew Dellegrotti needed some of his new starters to grow into their roles.
“We have three sophomores and we are asking them to handle the ball and be part of the system. They were never asked to that when they were younger,” Dellegrotti said Tuesday. “All of these kids were fourth or fifth options when they were younger, so they’re learning, but it’s time to step up.”
Tuesday night that’s exactly what happened as Cory Yerger scored 21 points, and sophomore Kierra Smith added 18 more as the Braves picked up a 66-53 nonleague win over Williamsport at the Shikellamy Field House.
The teams went back-and-forth for most of the first three quarters, with the Braves hanging on to a 43-40 lead with 1:52 left in the third. That’s when Shikellamy (8-4) took control, scoring 10 consecutive points to open a 53-40 lead early in the fourth when Raven Fatool converted a layup.
However, the Millionaires (3-8) didn’t go away as back-to-back turnovers by Shikellamy and some missed layups allowed Williamsport to climb back to within 59-51 with 2:05 left in the game on a Deidra Dunkleberger three-point play.
“We’ve really got to convert some of those layups. We were up by 11 or 13 and had a chance to put them away, but we missed some easy shots,” Dellegrotti said. “We have to overcome the mental mistakes. If we do, we can compete with anybody.”
Angstadt answered by breaking the Williamsport press for a layup and finding Yerger for a layup to push the lead to 13 and ice the win.
After struggling defensively in the opening 16 minutes — Dellegrotti doesn’t like to give up 29 points in a game, let alone a half — the Braves did a much better job in the second half.
They held Williamsport to just 10-of-23 from the floor in second half after letting the Millionaires shoot 54 percent (13-of-24). Take away Lydia Whaley’s second-half (6-of-7 from the floor) and the rest of the Williamsport team shot just 25 percent.
If Shikellamy had made some of its layups early in the fourth, the Braves might not have missed in the second half. Shikellamy was a scorching 15-of-22 from the floor (68 percent).
The teams played an up-and-down in the first half and with Angstadt struggling with her shot early, Smith and Yerger provided the offense. Smith had 10 first-half points, while Yerger added nine as the teams went to the break tied at 29.
“Kierra has a ton of athletic ability. She can make a nice move inside or she can drive to the basket. It’s a confidence thing,” Dellegrotti said. “I think finally by the end of the season she’s gaining confidence and she’s going to be a big contributor late in the season.”
Angstadt finished with 17 points, eight assists and seven steals. Fatool just missed a double-double, finishing with 10 points and nine boards.
Aisha Evans led Williamsport with 17 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. Whaley chipped in 16 points and eight boards — 12 and six in the second half.