CLAYSBURG - The top two teams in the Inter-County Conference North Division - Bellwood-Antis and Claysburg-Kimmel High School - met in Claysburg Thursday night.
A few days before Christmas, the teams squared off in Bellwood, but the game didn't live up to its advance billing, with the Blue Devils pounding the smaller Claysburg team by 29.
The rematch proved to be a different story as the Blue Devils beat the Bulldogs, 41-37.
After playing to an 8-8 tie at the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs dominated the second quarter, outscoring the Blue Devils, 16-5. Ronette Claar, who was an all-state performer on the softball team last spring, scored five of her nine points during the quarter.
Although it was only halftime, things looked pretty dismal for a Bellwood-Antis comeback, considering how poorly it played in the first half and how great the Bulldogs looked.
"Claysburg was definitely beating us to loose balls," Bellwood coach Jim Swaney said. "Trailing by that many points made us face a lot of adversity on the road tonight."
Following a fairly evenly-played third quarter, with Bellwood-Antis scoring nine points to Claysburg-Kimmel's eight, a wild and what appeared to be a pretty unlikely fourth quarter ensued.
Katy Leamer, Bellwood-Antis' junior forward, scored the first four points of the quarter - a jumper and a layup. After Abby Kulick made a layup but failed to complete the traditional three-point play, the Lady Devils went on a 10-1 run over the next 2:30. The hot shooting of point guard Ellen Crook continued, draining a pair of her game-high five treys during that huge run. The final two points of the run came on a pair of made free throws by Ana Hollen - the second giving the Blue Devils their first lead since a little bit more than four minutes remained in the first quarter.
Swaney talked about his point guard's strong performance.
"She'll drive you nuts sometimes for taking a bad shot or turning the ball over," Swaney said. "But her desire to win is second to none."
Kara Snyder's two makes from the charity stripe allowed the Bulldogs to reclaim the lead (37-36) with a little more than two minutes left, but those were the last points they scored. Anna Lynn's hoop with 37 seconds left, allowed Bellwood-Antis to regain a 38-37 lead. The following possession for the Bulldogs resulted in Bailey Swogger stealing a pass and taking it down the court for a layup that gave her team a 40-37 lead. Swogger only scored seven points, but she made perhaps the biggest play of the game.
"We were running a one-three-one with Bailey up top," Swaney said. "She laid back and made the move at the perfect time. She made the play with all of the money on the line."
Jill Brumbaugh and her Claysburg team were forced to battle adversity, making a victory over the first-place Blue Devils team that much more difficult. Kulick got her second foul just minutes into the game and really played only sparingly after that due to her foul trouble. Claar attempted to play the game sick.
"Claar is sick, and she threw up a couple of times during the game," Brumbaugh said. "Abby got into foul trouble so early and played so sparingly that it was tough for her to find a rhythm."
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (41): Ka. Leamer 3 1-3 7, Swogger 3 0-4 7, Crook 6 0-4 17, Ke. Leamer 0 1-4 1, Lynn 1 1-3 3, Krepps 0 0-2 0, Hollen 1 4-4 6. Totals - 14 7-24 41.
CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (37): Brumbaugh 5 0-3 10, Claar 4 0-0 9, Kulick 1 0-1 2, Snyder 1 4-8 6, Ickes 1 0-0 2, Fleck 2 2-2 8, Burk 0 0-0 0. Totals - 14 6-14 37.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bellwood-Antis8 5 9 19 - 41
Claysburg-Kimmel8 16 8 5 - 37
3-point goals: Bellwood-Antis 6 (Swogger, Crook 5); Claysburg-Kimmel 3 (Claar, Fleck 2).
Records: Bellwood-Antis (14-2); Claysburg-Kimmel (11-5).
JV: Bellwood-Antis, 38-24. High scorers-Ke. Leamer, BA, 13; Glass, CK, 8.