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Big Shots No. 12

Rizzo's rainbow

March 5, 2008
The Altoona Mirror
This is the ninth in a 20-day series on the biggest shots in Blair County high school basketball over the last 50 years. The Mirror is counting down one per day until Sunday, March 16.

—Buck Frank

Player: Missy Rizzo, Bishop Guilfoyle

Opponent: Hollidaysburg

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 5, 1991

Site: Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School gym

Setting the scene: BG, at 12-4, lost in overtime to Hollidaysburg earlier in the season and now again faced the 18-0 Lady Tigers, who were ranked No. 7 in the nation by USA Today. Hollidaysburg made a miraculous comeback to send the rematch into overtime again and held a 54-53 lead with 10 seconds remaining and future UConn guard Pam Webber at the foul line.

The shot: Webber made the first free throw but missed the second. Rizzo, a 5-foot-11 center, rebounded the ball and passed it to Deanna Showalter, who brought the ball upcourt. Showalter, then passed it back to Rizzo, who was trailing the play, at the top of the key. Rizzo’s high 3-point shot — her first career 3-point attempt — went through the hoop with two seconds left to give BG a 56-55 win.

Mirror excerpt from Wednesday, Feb. 6, 1991: The ball arched high and hung for an eternity in view of the packed house at Hollidaysburg Junior High School, before all-too-suddenly for Hollidaysburg it slipped over the front lip of the basket and swished through the net. — Michael V. Emery

(To view the entire original article from this game, go to


—Rizzo: ‘‘I remember thinking if Pam Webber made both free throws we’d need a 3-pointer to tie the game. When I took the shot I still thought we needed a 3-pointer.’’

—BG coach John Frederick: ‘‘One of the things we emphasized was that our post players needed to know how to handle the ball. When Rizzo got the ball, I vividly remember that I had no anxiety watching her take that shot.’’

—Hollidaysburg coach Joe Hurd: ‘‘Pam was a 93-percent free-throw shooter. I was so sure she’d make that second one I had told our players to call a timeout after she made it.’’

Aftermath: Hollidaysburg took a one-loss record into the PIAA Class AAAA Western final before losing to Penn Hills. BG, a balanced team lacking a true star player, won the 1991 PIAA Class AA state championship. Rizzo, now Dr. Melissa Lopez-Larson, lives in the Boston area. She is an adult and child psychiatrist who does brain research at Harvard.

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