---- — By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
NORTHUMBERLAND -- In the end, there were simply too many of them.
In the beginning and middle, too, for that matter.
There were just too many Sunbury Christian scorers on the floor Friday for Northumberland Christian to pull an upset in the ACAA rivals' final meeting of the regular season.
Abby Daddario led a charge that staked Sunbury Christian to an early eight-point lead. Torri Erdman fueled a late first-half run that helped push the margin to double-digits at the beginning of the third quarter. And Tiffany Billings made two key buckets in the fourth to end the Warriors' final comeback bid.
All three Eagles scored in double-figures to more than offset Norry scoring queen Alyssa Wesner's 21-point effort in a 41-30 win at the splendid Bingaman Activity Center.
"I think that's the key to our team: On any given night we have a different leading scorer," said Sunbury Christian coach John Jones. "I never go into a game thinking that one person's going to dominate. I expect 10-to-12 points from all of them. Some nights it happens; some nights it doesn't."
Daddario scored a team-high 17 with eight coming in a pivotal first quarter that forced Northumberland to play from behind throughout. Erdman and Billings dropped 12 and 10 points, respectively, and combined for 22 rebounds. Freshman Brandy Schroth, a starter due to point guard Jess Stuck's illness, pulled nine boards.
Sunbury (12-1) took a commanding lead in the ACAA East Division at 8-0. Northumberland, which was in a three-way tie for fourth place in the division, dropped to 9-7, 2-4.
"We've played against this team forever and they've been our main competition that whole time," said Daddario. "So to beat them like that really empowers us and makes us feel good."
Daddario, the Eagles' lone senior, scored the game's first bucket 2 minutes in and another for a 6-0 lead. She later answered a Wesner 3-pointer with four consecutive points to make it 12-4. Wesner's second of three first-half treys helped the Warriors close within 14-9 at period's end.
That became the game's pattern: Sunbury would push its lead to eight or so points, and Wesner would hit a shot or two and cut the deficit to about five. The Warriors' career scoring leader (boys or girls) poured in 15 points in the first half.
"We're going to get 20, 25 points out of Alyssa; that's a given. (But) we have struggled offensively all year," said Norry coach Bill Milbrand. "If they get an open shot, though, we want them to take it. They're not out there to be a spectator."
The Warriors shot just 5-of-31 in the first half but were just nine down thanks in large part to Sunbury's 15 turnovers.
Jones implored his girls to take better care of the ball even after the lead grew to 11 early in the third quarter. Sure enough, a couple more miscues fed a 6-0 Norry run that made it 27-22.
"I wasn't comfortable with the lead because I knew Norry, they're aggressive and I knew they would pressure us," he said. "I knew some of us could handle the pressure, but I knew there was a challenge to the flow of our offense (missing Stuck)."
Norry maintained the five-point margin through three quarters with Dorothyann Reich and Bethany Severn each matching Wesner's four points in the period.
"In the third period I felt a bit ... not scared, but kind of annoyed that we were up by so much and then, all of a sudden -- boom!" said Daddario. "But I had faith in my team and we pushed through."
Billings put back a Daddario miss early in the fourth, then followed a Wesner steal and score with a baseline jumper for a 38-30 lead with 2:57 to play. Norry missed its last five shots and committed two turnovers.
"I try tell them No matter what the situation is on the floor, always keep their heads up, be positive about every possession we have, and not to quit," said Milbrand.
"Our girls -- and this has been all year -- they don't quit."
In addition to her game-high point total, Wesner had six rebounds and nine steals. Reich grabbed 10 rebounds, while Severn and Hannah Renno each pulled six for the Warriors.
"When you have a team like that who has their points come from one player in particular, it's going to be more difficult for them," said Daddario.
"A team like us, that can shoot from anywhere and is quick to get the ball out and distribute, can get points from the whole team."