Blazer girls hope for higher tournament finish

The Cumberland Valley Christian Blazer girls have finished fourth in the Mason-Dixon Christian Conference basketball tournament each of the past two years, but they are aiming higher this year.

“Making a third trip to the final four is a great accomplishment, and it’s great for the growth of our program,” Blazers coach Dylan Ward said. “Now it’s all about improving in the final four.”

The Blazers (14-5) host Shalom Christian this evening at 5:30 in the MDCC semifinals. The Blazers are the No. 2 seed and Shalom is No. 3. The winner will likely face top-seeded Calvary in the championship game Saturday at Heritage.

The Blazers tuned up for the semifinals by defeating Grace Academy 55-30 in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.

“I thought we came out very aggressive, looking like a team motivated to make another final four,” Ward said. “We really got going when we started to create turnovers in bunches that really opened up our offense.”

With Mollee Stake and Amber Yanosik each drilling a pair of 3-pointers, the Blazers claimed a 13-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. Yanosik scored nine points while Laurel Reitz and Sarah Vandersleen each netted six in the second period as the Blazers took control, 34-15, at the half.

“Mollee Stake was the spark plug early until Laurel and Amber got going,” Ward said. “Sarah Vandersleen was a force down low, especially in the second half. We came out a little slow after halftime, but we adjusted and really shut the door from about the last three minutes of the third to the middle of the fourth.”

Yanosik scored 18 points and Reitz added 17 to lead the Blazers. Vandersleen contributed eight points, Stake six, Brylee Moats three, Julia Waltz two and Emmalyn Hott one.