EBENSBURG - The Bellwood-Antis girls basketball team was without Ellen Crook and Bailey Swogger in the final minutes of its first-round playoff loss to Central Cambria a year ago.
Crook missed the second half of the season with an ACL tear, and Swogger fouled out in the fourth quarter.
Friday, the Lady Devils returned to the playoffs with a healthy Crook, and Swogger stayed out of foul trouble.
It didn't matter.
Second-seeded Bellwood-Antis played another Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference team in No. 10 Richland during Friday's District 6 Class AA quarterfinal game, scored just nine points in the first half and bowed out, 45-39, at Central Cambria High School.
"Each team is different, you can't blame this year's team for last year's loss or next year's team for this year's loss," Bellwood-Antis coach Jim Swaney said. "We'll learn from it. We're young. We play a lot of freshmen and sophomores. We'll work hard this summer and get better."
Bellwood-Antis finished the regular season 20-2 before losing the Inter-County Conference championship game to Southern Fulton in overtime, but many of the Lady Devils wins came at the hands of overmatched ICC North opponents while Richland battled the likes of Forest Hills, Bishop Guilfoyle and Westmont Hilltop in the LHAC.
"This is not fun," Bellwood-Antis' Katy Leamer said. "We're going to remember this for next year, and we're going to come back even harder so we don't have this feeling next year.
"Sometimes it's tough being in our league, but we push each other in practice and play as hard as we can against each other. That's just as good as being in a better conference."
Richland took control early, jumping out to a 17-4 lead to start the game. Bellwood-Antis pulled within 19-9 at the half, but 12 Lady Devils turnovers stifled any offense B-A put together.
"They were running a 1-3-1, and we were doing some silly things against it," Swaney said. "We were making the first trap very easy by throwing the ball into the corner on the first pass. Once we decided to stagger the two guards at the top and reverse the basketball and get the zone moving, the traps didn't work as much."
The Lady Rams stretched their lead to 16 when Alexis Dona hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter and held it until B-A's Kelly Leamer drained a trey as the quarter ended.
Down by 13, Bellwood finally turned it on in the fourth quarter. Katy Leamer hit a 3-pointer to start a 12-2 run that was capped by an Ana Hollen trey. Sarah Pfeil, who led Richland with 12 points and 14 rebounds, made a layup before Katy Leamer made another 3-pointer to bring the Lady Devils within four with 1:27 left.
The 3-pointer was also Katy Leamer's 1,000th point of her career. She finished Friday's game with 17 points to lead all scorers.
"Katy is such a good offensive player," Swaney said. "She is a kid who understands her defense has to get better, and she works at it. I get upset when people think Katy is a one-trick pony. She isn't just an offensive player. She works hard and averaged nine rebounds a game for us this year."
Richland's Alexa Hoover missed a free throw on the Lady Rams' next possession, but Kaija Holtzman got the rebound and iced the game with a putback.
"Playing in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference is huge for us," Richland coach Ralph McGinnis said. "We've got six teams that are so competitive. Playing those teams 12 games out of the year definitely prepares you for the playoffs."
RICHLAND (45): Gehlmann 4 1-3 12, Hoover 0 0-1 0, Koshute 0 2-2 2, Pfeil 6 0-2 12, Holtzman 6 0-0 12, Dona 3 0-0 7, Simunic 0 0-0 0, Franze 0 0-0 0. Totals - 19 3-8 45.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (39): Ka. Leamer 5 4-6 17, Swogger 1 0-0 2, Crook 2 0-0 4, Hollen 3 1-4 8, Krepps 0 1-2 1, Lynn 1 0-0 2, Ke. Leamer 1 0-0 3, Damiano 0 0-0 0, Finn 0 0-0 0, Mercer 1 0-0 2. Totals - 14 6-12 39.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Richland10 9 16 10 - 45
Bellwood-Antis4 5 13 17 - 39
3-point goals: Richland 4 (Gehlmann 3, Dona); Bellwood-Antis 5 (Ka. Leamer 3, Hollen, Ke. Leamer).
Records: Richland (18-6); Bellwood-Antis (20-4).
Officials: Mike Condrin, Ron Williams, Steve Koths.