LaFrance delivers relief for Lady Rams in holiday tourney win

By Joe Gilloway
Linglestown Gazette Sports

Someone forgot to tell the Palmyra Lady Cougars that they were supposed to be a bit outclassed in this one tonight. They were a team tied for fourth in the Mid-Penn Keystone division, facing a Central Dauphin team tied at the top of the stronger Commonwealth. Or maybe they knew, and just weren’t having any of it.

The Palmyra girls hit the ground running at the opening tip of tonight’s first round game of the Manheim Township Lady Blue Streaks Holiday Tournament, and got out to an early 10-3 lead on the Lady Rams. Just the start they were looking for. Just the start Rams coach Randy Gambelunghe may have packed some extra Alka Seltzer had he known he’d be in for.

Enter Coach G’s relief … sophomore guard Maddie LaFrance, pictured above. Plop, plop, three, three. Oh what a relief it was. LaFrance, the alpha offensive player asked to take on more of a supporting role to senior guard Sam Gress this season, knew it was her time. Knew her team needed her.

After putting her team’s only points on the board in the opening quarter, via a 3-pointer, LaFrance drained two more huge 3s in the second eight minutes to help her team grind to an 18-all tie at intermission.

But then came the third, and more offensive struggles for the Rams. Oh well, if we can’t score, then neither will they. They held the Cougars to just two buckets in the third, and took a 26-22 lead into the final quarter.

The Rams hardly won going away though, as the Cougars continued to play with the same intensity they had since early in the game. But it was senior Sam Gress’s perfect 8 for 8 from the line in the final minutes that put it on ice. Gress finished 12 of 14 from the charity stripe and led all scorers with 16. LaFrance finished with 12, all from behind the arc.

Senior guard Amelia Baldo led the Cougars with 14, followed her “Big-2” companion, Olivia Richardson, who joined her in double figures with 10. Freshman Zoe Smith added 8.

Next up for the Rams (7-1 overall, 4-0 conference) is a Saturday night championship game matchup with Manheim Township. The tourney host Lady Blue Streaks topped West York 42-37 in the nightcap game.