Halee Adams, the reigning Altoona Mirror girls basketball player of the year and a first-team all-state selection last year as a sophomore, made her return to the court on Thursday night, 24 weeks after surgery to replace torn ligaments in her left knee.
Although wearing a brace, Adams didn't show any ill-effects. She scored 18 points in about a half-game's worth of action as Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic made quick work of Penn Cambria, 71-26, in Laurel Highlands Conference Section 1 action at the Pleasant Valley gymnasium.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
BG’s Halee Adams keeps the ball away from Penn Cambria’s Brianna Mulhern on Thursday.
"It felt great. I didn't even notice it,'' Adams, who'd been testing the reconstructed knee in practice over the last two weeks, said. "I'm nervous for every game, but I was especially nervous when [Lady Marauder coach Mark Moschella] told me to go [check in at the scorer's table]. But, once I started playing, it was something. I was just so excited to start playing again.''
So were her teammates, like Elyssa Ehredt, who has known Adams since before they entered preschool and had never started a basketball season without her until this one.
"It's awesome. I missed her so much,'' said Ehredt, whose 19 points led all scorers. "When she was gone, it was like a part of the team was missing. Now that she's back, it's like we're all together again.''
Adams entered the game with 1:34 left in the first quarter and scored 10 seconds later on a turnaround jumper from the low post. Before the period ended, she added a rebound.
Adams scored five points in the second quarter and seven in the third. She came out for good after taking a hard foul and hitting two foul shots with 7:10 remaining.
"It exceeded my expectations,'' Moschella said. "I know how hard she worked on her rehab and how badly she wanted to be back with her teammates, but it was a pleasant surprise to see her come out and not be tentative. The physical part I thought she was going to be OK with. It was the mental part, and she just handled it tremendously.''
Adams might even be back better than before. She made all seven of her shots from the floor, including one from beyond the 3-point arc, from which she was reluctant to shoot last season. About the one basketball-related thing she could do during her rehabilitation was practice her outside shooting.
"Since I was allowed to shoot in November, my dad was taking me, and I've been making 200-to-500 shots. We've been trying to go every day,'' Adams said.
Guilfoyle raised its record to 13-1 overall and 5-0 in the section, using a 23-2 run from late in the first quarter until the 2:10 mark of the second period to pull away. The Lady Marauders made 55 percent of their shots, got to the free throw line 19 times and outrebounded Penn Cambria by 23.
"So many people stood out in different ways,'' Moschella said. "Elyssa and Halee had a nice night scoring, and then I look at Elyssa's rebounding and Kayla Bates and Devin [Stessney] with their assists. The two of them threw some passes tonight that were really fun to watch.''
After closing the gap to 11-7 with a minute left in the first quarter, Penn Cambria dipped to 8-4 overall and 3-2 in the section. The Lady Panthers, who only made 11 of 46 shots, were paced by Brianna Kearney with 12 points.
"We got off to a good start. I thought they were quicker than we were defensively, they shot the ball extremely well, and we were one-and-done. Give them credit, because they had everyone block us off the boards extremely well,'' Penn Cambria coach Bruce Frycklund said. "A Mark Moschella team is going to be well coached, and they are good at every facet of the game.''
Although she helped do in his team, Frycklund was happy to see Adams playing again.
"A kid that works as hard as she does and comes back as quickly as she has from that kind of injury, that's a credit to her work ethic, and you wish nothing but the best for someone who works as hard as she does,'' Frycklund said.
Of course, Frycklund's team is double-A, so he doesn't have to worry about running into a Guilfoyle team with Adams in the Class A district or state playoffs.
"We knew it was going to be hard without her, so the harder we worked harder in practice to get to know each other and to be one team,'' Ehredt said. "Now that she's back, it makes us 10 times more powerful. We're going to be good. We're going to be complete.''
Game notes: Penn Cambria hosts Johnstown on Monday and plays four games next week. ... Bishop Guilfoyle is off until Wednesday, when the Lady Marauders host Bishop McCort. ... Led by Emily Adams' nine points, the Guilfoyle junior varsity posted a 34-16 win.
PENN CAMBRIA (26): Mulhern 2 0-0 5, Krug 2 0-0 4, Kearney 5 2-3 12, Shingler 0 1-2 1, Wheeler 2 0-0 4, E. Roberts 0 0-0 0, Regan 0 0-2 0, Vincent 0 0-0 0, Capelli 0 0-0 0, Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals - 11 3-7 26.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (71): Bates 4 0-0 8, Stessney 3 2-2 8, Ehredt 8 3-5 19, Meck 0 3-4 3, Becker 2 2-4 6, Boslet 2 0-0 4, H. Adams 7 3-4 18, Bender 1 0-0 3, Craig 1 0-0 2. Totals - 28 13-19 71.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Penn Cambria7 7 4 8 - 26
Bishop Guilfoyle13 21 19 18 - 71
3-point goals: Penn Cambria 1 (Mulhern); Bishop Guilfoyle 2 (Adams, Bender).
Records: Penn Cambria (8-4; 3-2 LHAC Section 1); Bishop Guilfoyle (13-1; 5-0 LHAC Section 1).
JV: Bishop Guilfoyle, 34-16. High scorers-Deonna Capelli and Emily Roberts, PC, 3 each; Emily Adams, BG, 9.