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BG-North Catholic -- live from courtside

March 24, 2007 - Neil Rudel

24 minutes before tip: The Mirror coverage arsenal -- Cmor, Frank, Sipes, Langenbacher and some guy with a beard -- is in place.

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18:23 before tip: North Catholic's been out on the floor for three minutes. The Trojanettes arrived to polite applause. BG arrives a more decided ovation.

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16:18 before tip: Deuce Skurcenski greets the Mirror contingent. "I get more press than a dry cleaner," he spits.

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14:15 before tip: There's been a Coach Hetz spotting. He's probably still stewing at last week's Mailbag letter praising this year's uptempo Mountain Lion style.

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11:03 before tip: The Dawg Pound, dressed as Marauders and Pirates, help fill the sections behind the BG bench.

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7 minutes before tip: No room in the Pound for my kid. I'm holding Huey Ehredt responsible.

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Nice touch at the Jordan Center: Lights out for the intros, with spotlights. Lady Marauder Christine Conrad has trouble finding North Catholic coach in the dark.

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Both teams open tight. Scoreless with 4:29 left in first quarter as both have missed several short shots.

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Amy Longo of NC draws first blood with a top of the key 3 ... fortunately, it's not first bucket wins. Dani Williams answers for BG and, thankfully, the teams appear to be settling down.

*****

Down 7-2, Coach Mo doesn't wait long to insert freshman gem Alli Williams. Pound salutes with "Al-li, Al-li..."

*****

1:20 left in first: Big drive and hoop for Ashley Helsel, though ensuing free throw misses and offensive rebound isn't cashed.

*****

A. Williams power drive cuts BG deficit to 11-6 but as quarter winds, Bellovich hits dagger corner shot and NC leads, 13-6.

*****

Pressure's on when your boss is tracking this live: Surprised Ray Eckenrode hasn't chimed in yet.

*****

Mary Forr's three-point play cuts it to 13-9 but BG fails to get back and gives up opposite bunny ... Dani Williams flashes wide grin when her 3-pointer hits.

*****

Zebras blow first call by missing block and charging Helsel with turnover on baseline drive.

*****

Pound stretches sportsmanship boundaries with an "April sucks" chant of NC standout bound for Dayton. AD Rick Hatch, overdressed in rare pair of trousers, is quick to admonish.

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Jordan Center stat crew, evidence of old stat man Dave Baker lurking, provides first-quarter statistics. BG's one turnover, seemingly low, is confirmed by Cmor.

*****

BG regrouping ... Helsel's two free throws and another Alli Williams drive push Lady Marauders into their first lead, 18-15, which they carry into locker room to loud ovation from Pound and Marauder faithful. BG defense holds NC to two second-quarter points.

*****

Halftime; Guilfoyle appears to have weathered North Catholic's early storm and gotten its legs. Not sure what kind of a gym North Catholic plays in, but the thought occurs that the spacious Jordan Center floor has to be a particular adjustment for BG.

*****

Your Man in Harrisburg reports word from Altoona indicated PCN went dark during first half. Wanted me to tell Kellie Goodman. I don't have the heart.

*****

The teams come out more fluid offensively, hitting consecutive buckets each, and BG builds its biggest lead at 24-17 on Conrad's two free throws.

*****

4:23 left in third: North Catholic's April Austin, who appears to be the quickest player on the court, makes two free throws, cutting BG's lead to 24-23. Forr answers with a left-handed banked drive, then Austin's 3 ties it at 26.

*****

Last minute of the third: North Catholic press designed to speed pace and free Austin in open court. BG throng a little restless after Helsel is supposedly tied up. NC holds for last shot, tied at 28, but Alli Williams block helps preserve tie.

*****

Beginning of fourth: Thought persists now that in his sixth state final, having lost four straight since winning in his first trip, this has to be Coach Mo's best chance -- with size combo of Forr and A. Williams. Will it be meant to be?

*****

Wondering how all those college SIDs who type up the basketball play-by-play -- especially at the higher level of the men's game with the teams that play at a faster pace -- can do it. This gives me new appreciation for them. Kevin Southard, the old St. Francis wonder, was the master.

*****

6:35 left: North Catholic takes the lead back and great hustle by A. Williams prevents Austin steal from being converted to 33-29 lead. Instead, Bellovich makes one and the Trojanettes lead 32-29. A. Williams answers with pair. Billed before the season as perhaps BG's best hope to be a Division I player, Williams cuts it to 32-21. As I'm wondering what position she translates to in college, she drives again to put BG up 33-32 and is starting to look like the best player on the floor. Betting she doesn't come out again.

*****

4:30 left: North Catholic holding 34-33 lead and Austin's quickness is taking a toll -- maybe on her, too. She misses two free throws.

*****

Getting to be crunch time -- 3:36 left -- and NC misses third straight free throw. Helsel's drive pushes BG back up 35-34. Mo, who didn't use a timeout early, burns his first.

******

Austin makes the move of the game to put NC up 36-35 in what's developing into a classic back-and-forth battle. 2:38 left and Williams posts for monster scoop and a 37-36 lead. Glad I'm here. North Catholic answers, 38-37.

*****

1:35 left, here we go. Pound's jumpin' ... Guilfoyle needs a stop. Tom Lane around? NC is spread and its guard quickness will be problem -- until post player decides to rush one. Forr, at other end, posts and hits! BG leads, 39-38. Mo uses another timeout, down to two.

*****

56 ticks left ... Bellovich drives and appears to be hit, but there's no call. Dani Williams rebounds and is fouled with 44.8 seconds left but BG's not in bonus.

*****

I'm thinking now that you don't have to be listening to Charlie and Rich! :) BG avoids crucial sideline turnover and Mo calls timeout with 36.5 left. BG has a little trouble getting it in and burns its final timeout.

*****

Carroll gets it in to Helsel, who's fouled with 35.9 seconds left. Thinking it took longer than the 1.1 seconds burned on Texas A&M the other night. Helsel makes the first and misses the second. Wild scramble ensues, forcing jump ball and NC possession. NC has the ball and two timeouts left at 31.5.

*****

Austin misses drive. Forr gets on the floor to force tieup. BG ball with 14.5 left. Conrad fouled with 13.4. NC down to one timeout.

*****

13.4 left: Conrad makes first. She's been huge in the playoffs. BG up 41-38. Conrad misses but BG retains possession and appears to be on the verge now. Carroll fouled, makes the first with 6.9 seconds left and, as Howard Cosell once said: "It is ova!"

******

Carroll's second free throw is good, making it 43-38 Austin misses, Moschella punches the air with 0.6 left and it's a Purple Reign.

**** 

Read all about it later tonight on altoonamirror.com and don't miss our four-page Lady Marauder Extra on Sunday. The Mirror will also have a tribute poster Wednesday and a special section next Saturday.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

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