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Downingtown East suffers season-ending loss to Cedar Crest in state opener

WYNCOTE – Downingtown East was victimized by a sputtering start and Cedar Crest’s balanced attack in a season-ending 53-44 loss Saturday in the opening round of the PIAA-Class AAAA playoffs at Cheltenham High.

The Cougars, who entered as the No. 3 seed from District 1, never recovered after falling behind 12-6 in the first quarter and 29-16 at the break and eventually saw their strong season end at 22-8.

D-East did not go down without a fight, however, drawing within 36-27 by the end of the third quarter. But the Falcons, District 3’s No. 4 seed, fended off all challenges to advance to the Sweet 16 Tuesday night against defending state champion Cumberland Valley.

For D-East, Paige Warfel finished with 17 points to lead all scorers while Laura Ochsner added 10 and Aryah Aungst chipped in with 8, including a three-pointer with 41 seconds left that cut the deficit to 49-44.

That proved to be too little, too late.

“They have a real nice team,” said D-East coach Bob Schnure. “They’re small but they’re real quick and they all can handle it. Everyone can shoot the 3, so you can’t just double up on the big kid.”

The ‘big kid’ was 6-foot-1 sophomore forward Alyssa Austin, who created ‘big’ problems in the paint with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 8 blocks.

There were other contributors for the Falcons (24-6), primarily Ariel Jones and Rachel Miller with 15 points apiece. Miller had a personal run of 8 straight in the second quarter and 11 during that frame, ending the half with a triple to provide a 29-16 edge.

“That ‘3’ was a dagger,” said Schnure. “But they executed real nice on that play. They penetrated, dished and hit the 3.”

All is not lost for the Cougars, who return four of their five starters next season, including the Ches-Mont’s leading scorer in Warfel (18 ppg). Also back are 5-11 junior forwards Lindsay Kent and Ochsner and 5-8 junior guard Aryah Aungst. Kaelyn Johns, a 5-8 senior guard, is the lone departee.

Cedar Crest (53) – Jones 5 4-4 15, Miller 5 3-5 15, Austin 7 0-2 14, Rakow 2 0-0 4, R. Wagner 1 0-0 3, N. Wagner 0 2-2 2, Ruhl 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 9-13 53.

Downingtown East (44) – Warfel 7 1-3 17, Ochsner 4 2-2 10, Aungst 3 0-0 8, Johns 2 1-1 6, Kent 1 1-4 3. Totals: 17 5-10 44.

Cedar Crest                12 17  7 17 – 53

Downingtown East  6 10 11 17 – 44

3-point goals — Miller 2, Jones, E. Wagner; Warfel 2, Aungst 2, Johns.

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