Morgan Birmelin paced a balanced Honesdale attack in Class AAA first round action
Morgan Birmelin and Tracy Ludwig were both asked the same question just moments after Wednesday's night's game.
"If I had told you two hours ago that you'd win tonight's game by 42 points, what would you have said?"
Neither the player nor the coach hesitated and each answered with the same two words: "You're crazy!"
And yet, that's exactly what happened.
In a performance that can only be described as dazzling, Honesdale simply destroyed North Pocono in opening round District Two playoff action.
The Lady Hornets held the visitors to just four points in each of the first three quarters en route to a 65-23 rout.
"Boy, it sure looks like we're starting to peak at the right time," Coach Ludwig said. "I'm very happy with how the girls played tonight. They came out on fire and never let up. I just hope that intensity carries over to our next game."
Birmelin doesn't think that will be a problem.
"We're playing really well together right now," she said. "I'm very excited to see what we can do in the next couple games. The goal is to get back to states and that's what we're shooting for."
With Wednesday's win, Honesdale advances to the Class AAA quarterfinals.
Weather permitting, the Lady Hornets will now face Dallas Saturday afternoon at Pittston Area. Opening tip is scheduled for 1 p.m.
The last time these two teams played, North Pocono used an inside-out offensive approach to attack Honesdale.
Sophomore guard Kaitlyn Lewis unleashed a perimeter barrage, while junior center Alexis Stephens flexed her muscles in the paint. Thanks to these two girls, the Trojans took a 3-point lead at intermission.
However, the Lady Hornet made a couple of subtle adjustments in the lockerroom and dominated the second half.
On Wednesday, Honesdale picked up right where it left off. Coach Ludwig's girls eschewed their usual high-octane man defense in favor of an active zone that simply suffocated North Pocono's star players.
"That was definitely the game plan," Morgan said of the strategy which limited Lewis and Stephens to a combined 10 points.
"They're good players and we knew we had to stop them."
Birmelin led the Red & Black attack at both ends of the floor. The fiery sophomore guard dialed up a long distance trey, then broke loose for a fastbreak lay-up off a steal and assist from Mary Martin.
These two buckets gave Honesdale an early 13-4 lead and forced Coach Dan Hogan to burn the first of many timeouts.
"This is the time of year when you really want everything to click and thank goodness we seem to be clicking right now," Coach Ludwig said.
"Morgan was just on fire tonight. Even more than than the points, though, I was impressed with how hard she went after rebounds"
Birmelin's name appeared prominently in just about every statistical category. She finished up with a game-high 16 points, but also hauled down seven rebounds, grabbed five steals and handed out three assists.
"I really don't know what it was," Morgan said. "I guess tonight was just my night. I felt good out there. I was very comfortable shooting the ball and I worked really hard to get as many rebounds as I could."
Basketball pundits would be hard-pressed to critique Honesdale's performance against North Pocono.
The Lady Hornets limited the Trojans to just eight points in the first half while building an insurmountable lead. By the time that lead ballooned to 49-12, the Coach Ludwig began emptying her bench.
Starters Katie Miller, Mary Martin and Natasha Miller also cracked double digits. Miller buried a pair of deep treys and finished with 14 points. Martin and Hessling combined to hit 6-of-8 free throw tries and tallied 10 apiece.
Kate Pfeil and Stacy Hart both saw serious time in the second half and each wound up with four points. Kacie Johannes, Jackie Gallik and Jess Carney rounded out the Lady Hornet scoring.
When the buzzer sounded on the final home game of the 2012-13 season, Maple City fans showed their appreciation for another stellar season with a loud ovation.
"We need one more win to clinch another trip to states," Birmelin said. "We're going to do anything we can to get back there. That's the plan."
Score by Quarters...
HON (20-3) 15 12 22 16 - 65
NP (13-9) 4 4 4 11 - 23