In what's become a familiar scene at the Pleasant Valley Gymnasium over the years, Halee Adams knocked the ball away from the opposing guard into the backcourt and chased it down, her eyes on a layup.
The only difference was, this time, Becky Bard beat the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic Lady Marauder player to the ball and regained possession.
It was like that all night. Guilfoyle, which, throughout Mark Moschella's tenure as coach has consistently bested teams with superior hustle and fundamentals, was given a taste of its own medicine, as Forest Hills played almost a perfect game and scored a surprisingly convincing 56-41 win over the Lady Marauders in a battle for first place in Section 1 of the Laurel Highlands Conference.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Bishop Guilfoyle’s Kate Meck tries to take the ball from?Forest Hills’ Becky Bard.
It was the first time Guilfoyle has lost a conference home game since it joined the LHAC for the 2007-08 season, turning the Lady Marauder faithful's mood on "Hoops for Hope'' night from pink to blue.
"It's depressing, obviously,'' Lady Marauder junior forward Elyssa Ehredt said. "Now we know what it's like to lose.
"They were ready. They had a chip on their shoulder from last game. So did we, but they got the better of us.''
It was just the second loss in 19 starts for the Lady Marauders and gave the Lady Rangers the inside track to represent Division 1 in the LHAC championship game on Feb. 18 - both teams are 7-1 with two games left, but Forest Hills would advance in the event of a tie because Bishop Guilfoyle played in the conference final last season. Guilfoyle had beaten Forest Hills, 53-51, in Sidman on Jan. 13.
"We didn't take care of the ball in the first half, and you can't miss two dozen shots in the layup area,'' Moschella said. "Every mistake we made, Forest Hills, to their credit, capitalized on it.''
The Lady Rangers only turned the ball over 10 times against a variety of BG defenses, outrebounded the Lady Marauders by nine despite being at a height disadvantage - allowing just seven offensive boards - and made six more field goals despite taking one fewer shot.
Carol Cecere's trio of experienced guards all scored in double figures: Casey Gallaher and Bard led the way with 17 and 16 points, respectively, while Briana Kostan had 11. The win pushed Forest Hills to 18-1 overall and ran its winning streak to eight games, including a 17-point victory over Class AAAA State College and six other games by at least 15 points.
"This is an awesome game. This is a great feeling. We've wanted this. This is one of our goals. This is a big accomplishment. It will help us in the playoffs. It's a definite confidence-booster,'' Bard said. "We knew it was going to be a big night with it being their pink night. We knew it was going to be crowded, but we had to stay focused.''
They did. After Bishop Guilfoyle's Kayla Bates made a 3-pointer on the game's first shot, Forest Hills controlled the game. With Guilfoyle committing six early turnover, the Lady Rangers led by as many as seven in the first quarter and 10 in the second. They then pulled away by 20 in the second half after Megan Gould's jumper at the 1:23 mark of the third quarter ended a 6-0 Guilfoyle run that had the margin down to nine points.
Afterwards, Cecere received hug after hug from a large contingent of Lady Ranger fans that helped to pack the gym.
"I keep thinking maybe the game's tomorrow, and I'm just dreaming tonight,'' Cecere said. "There was a lot of excitement in the gym with the pink-out and an almost sellout crowd. We brought a lot of people with us. It's a tough place to play.''
Bates topped the Lady Marauders with 12 points before fouling out with 3:02 to go, while Courtney Becker chipped in with 11 points. Cecere said a priority was containing Adams, the all-state swing player who didn't play in the earlier meeting, and Forest Hills managed to limit her to nine points.
"We've got to put this game behind us. I just can't visualize a game where we didn't have anyone the whole night that could hit a shot. It just takes the air out of our sails. We needed somebody to do something positive,'' Moschella said.
Ehredt believed she and her teammates would respond to the disappointment.
"It just gives us more of a want to win the next game,'' Ehredt said. "Now we just have that urge to win.''
Game notes: Proceeds from the game benefited Doreen Fogle, who was honored at halftime along with Lady Marauder fan Christine Butler. Both Fogle and Butler have been diagnosed with breast cancer. ... Gift baskets were raffled off, also. ... Guilfoyle won the junior varsity game, 37-31, behind Lexi Luciano's 16 points. ... The Lady Marauders return to action on Saturday at Bishop Carroll. ... Forest Hills hosts Penn Cambria on Friday and Cambria Heights next week. If the Lady Rangers win both of those games, they will play in their first LHAC final.
FOREST HILLS (56): Cas. Gallaher 5 6-8 17, Bard 6 2-3 16, B. Kostan 4 2-2 11, DiFlauro 2 1-2 5, Zubek 0 0-0 0, Marks 1 0-2 2, Meier 0 1-2 1, Cai. Gallaher 0 0-0 0, Gould 1 1-4 3, Swanson 0 0-0 0. Totals - 19 13-23 56.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (41): Bates 4 3-4 12, Stessney 2 0-0 6, Ehredt 1 0-0 2, Meck 0 0-0 0, Becker 3 5-5 11, Adams 3 3-4 9, Bender 0 1-2 1, Craig 0 0-0 0. Totals - 13 12-15 41.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Forest Hills12 13 18 13 - 56
Bishop Guilfoyle9 9 10 13 - 41
3-point goals: Forest Hills 5 (Bard 3, Cas. Gallaher, B. Kostan); Bishop Guilfoyle 3 (Bates, Stessney 2).
Records: Forest Hills (18-1, 7-1 LHAC Section 1); Bishop Guilfoyle (17-2, 7-1 LHAC Section 1).
Officials: Steve Searer, Jeff Heider, Enoch Ferencz.
JV: Bishop Guilfoyle, 37-31. High scorers-Caitlyn Gallaher, FH, 14; Lexi Luciano, BG, 16.