HONESDALE — The Lady Hornets defeated their two closest rivals this week and, in so doing, defended their tournament title in electrifying fashion.
Led by Most Valuable Player Morgan Birmelin, the Red & Black sealed the deal on a second straight Jaycees Holiday Classic crown with victories over Wallepaupack Area and Western Wayne.
On Friday, Coach Tracy Ludwig's girls used their trademark high pressure defense to deal the Lady Bucks a 56-50 loss. Then, just 48 hours later, the reigning District Two Class AAA champs rolled to a 49-35 win over the Lady 'Cats.
"These were two very different games for us," said Coach Ludwig. "Against Paupack, we had to try and stop Alexix Roman and their inside game. Tonight, we had to turn up the ball pressure and run the floor."
With these victories, the Lady Hornets improved their overall record to 8-0.
Next up for Honesdale is the Lackawanna League opener against Scranton, which is slated for Thursday evening at 7:15 p.m right here in the Maple City.
"I'm excited to see what the regular season is going to bring," Coach Ludwig said. "We're on a nice little roll right now and I just hope we can keep it up."
Birmelin and fellow All-Star Katie Miller proved to be a potent 1-2 punch at the 53rd annual tournament.
Morgan exploded for a team-high 16 points in the victory over Paupack, then added seven more against Western Wayne.
"Morgan really led the way, especially tonight," said Coach Ludwig. "I'm very happy for her. Morgan is a fiery player and she gives us everything she has every single time she steps on the court."
Miller was every bit as impressive on her way to an All-Tourney bid. The silky-smooth sophomore guard hit for double digits in each game, scoring 13 against Paupack and 14 in the title tilt versus Western Wayne.
Page 2 of 3 - "Katie is definitely our quiet leader," said Coach Ludwig said. "She projects an aura of calm when she's out there. Katie's so smooth in everything she does as a basketball player."
Miller fired the first salvo on Sunday night, drilling a deep trey on her team's opening possession. She followed that up with a second long-distance bomb late in the period as the Red & Black began pulling away.
Honesdale led 12-6 after one, then expanded that advantage to 25-12 at intermission. By the time the buzzer sounded on the third quarter, this game was all but decided, 44-21.
Western Wayne did stage a rally in the final stanza, outscoring its host by a margin of 14-5.
Kacie Johannes and Mary Martin also played key roles in the Lady Hornets' Jaycees title defense.
Johannes rattled the rims for 14 against Paupack, then contributed nine to the cause Sunday night. Martin chipped in with nine and seven, respectively.
Natasha Hessling earned a starting nod in the finals and responded with eight points and seven boards.
Rounding out the scoring for Honesdale were Jess Carney and Stacey Hart with a bucket apiece.
Western Wayne worked hard to get back in this one, but the Lady 'Cats were just no match for Honesdale's speed, depth and relentless defensive pressure.
Rachel Carmody turned in another solid effort with 18 points in the title tilt. She also tallied 17 Friday night in a win over Forest City and was named to the All-Tourney Team.
Rebecca Carmody added eight from her point guard spot, while Carly Thorpe and Jordyn Jacques hit for three each.
Kourtney Jones (two pts) and Bethany Giombetti (one) closed out Western Wayne's scoring.
Page 3 of 3 - Score by Quarters...
HON (8-0) 12 13 19 5 – 49
WW (7-2) 6 6 9 14 - 35