CRESSON - Hollidays-burg's Rachel McClain, at 5-foot-3, was the smallest player on the court for the Blair County girls team in Friday's seventh annual Altoona Mirror Basketball Classic.
Her size, though, didn't prevent her from coming up big when her team needed an offensive boost against a collection of all-stars from the region.
"I just thought we were the better team,'' McClain said. "I wanted to get the ball to the people who were open, and if I had an open shot, to take it. I wanted to do whatever to get us back in the game.''
Mirror photo by J.D.?Cavrich
Central PA’s Morgan Lemin (center) battles Blair County’s Kathryn Blattenberger (left) and Lydia Fleck for a rebound at Mount Aloysius.
McClain entered the game in the first quarter with her team trailing, 21-9, and provided instant offense that helped spur the Blair girls to an 88-82 victory over Central PA at Mount Aloysius College's Health & Physical Fitness Center.
Altoona's Kayla DeCriscio also stood out for the Blair all-stars by setting a Mirror Classic girls record with five 3-pointers and tying the single-game girls scoring record with 23 points. She was voted the most valuable player for Blair.
McClain, the 10th highest season scorer for the Blair team with a 7.0 points-per-game average, scored 10 points and contributed three assists in a 10-minute span from the late first quarter to midway in the second quarter. That helped Blair make up its deficit and gain a 43-40 halftime edge.
"I thought Rachel McClain played a very good game,'' said Blair coach Deanna Jubeck, who also coached McClain at Hollidaysburg. "She shot the ball well. She scored 10 quick points and helped get us back in the game. Plus, she did what she does defensively, and she rebounded, too. She played her heart out.''
McClain, who hasn't decided on which college she'll attend next year, finished with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting and tied for a team-high with five assists.
"Rachel McClain can score as well as anyone in the area,'' Jubeck said. "She's got a good future ahead of her.''
DeCriscio wrapped up her scholastic career before heading to the University of Pittsburgh-Johnson by connecting on 5-of-9 3-point attempts. She played point guard in the first quarter and didn't hit her first 3 until 2 minutes remained in the second quarter.
She finished the first half with a seven-point flurry that gave Blair momentum heading to the second half.
"Growing up, I played point guard, so it felt good to bring the ball up the court again,'' said DeCriscio, whose 23 points tied former Altoona player Samantha Reimer's record. "It took awhile to get warmed up, but my teammates did a great job at getting me the ball. I can't say enough about them.''
DeCriscio scored 10 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers, in the pivotal third quarter when Blair built its lead to 13 points (67-54).
"It was tough to play against [DeCriscio] for the last three years,'' Jubeck said. "I was used to putting my head down when she shoots because you know it's going in.''
Tyrone's Olivia Stever scored Blair's first nine points of the fourth quarter to keep its cushion at more than 10 points. Central PA, with the spirited play of Westmont Hilltop's 5-foot-2 Gina Rievel, was able to cut its deficit to eight points with 3 minutes remaining in the game.
But two 3s from DeCriscio and a three-point play from Claysburg-Kimmel's Ronette Claar helped Blair win for the third time in seven years.
"I think it was mainly the boards and we got lazy on defense,'' said Rievel, a Waynesburg recruit who finished with a team-high 18 points and was voted Central PA's MVP. "We picked it up, but it was too late to come back. [The Blair team] worked the ball well and found the open person, and usually it was [DeCriscio].''
In addition to the scoring from DeCriscio and McClain, Stever and Claar each scored 11, Altoona's Lauren Hippo and Williamsburg's Allison Edwards each had seven, and Bishop Guilfoyle's Kate Meck grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
"It was the last game of the season,'' McClain said. "Even though it was an all-star game, we wanted it pretty bad.''
Game notes: Bishop McCort's Larissa Swank scored all 10 of her points in the first half for the Central PA team, which was coached by Conemaugh Valley's Teri Cruse. The Blair girls finished with 28 assists to Central PA's 12, but was out-rebounded, 52-43.
CENTRAL PA (82): Rievel 8-15 1-1 18, Kegg 2-7 0-0 4, Bard 2-7 0-0 4, Reckner 3-6 2-2 8, Swank 5-10 0-0 10, Kearney 2-8 0-0 5, Muha 2-4 2-2 6, Lemin 1-4 0-0 2, Corbin 1-5 0-0 3, McGhee 1-6 3-4 6, Beatty 3-7 0-0 7, Skinner 3-7 1-2 9. Totals: 33-86 9-11 82.
BLAIR COUNTY (88): Stever 4-9 3-4 11, Claar 4-6 1-1 11, Gildea 3-8 0-0 6, Meck 2-5 0-0 5, DeCriscio 9-13 0-0 23, Fleck 0-1 0-2 0, Edwards 3-8 0-0 7, Hippo 3-10 0-0 7, McClain 5-8 1-2 13, Becker 2-6 0-0 4, Blattenberger 0-3 0-0 0, Bean 0-6 1-2 1. Totals: 35-83 6-11 88.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central PA30 10 14 28 - 82
Blair County20 23 24 21 - 88
3-point goals-Central PA 7-32 (Skinner 2-5, Rievel 1-5, Kearney 1-4, Corbin 1-3, McGhee 1-5, Beatty 1-2, Kegg 0-4, Bard 0-4). Blair County 12-34 (DeCriscio 5-9, Claar 2-4, McClain 2-4, Meck 1-1, Edwards 1-2, Hippo 1-4, Stever 0-3, Gildea 0-2, Becker 0-1, Bean 0-4). Rebounds-Central PA 52 (Reckner 7). Blair County 43 (Meck 10). Assists-Central PA 12 (Kegg, Swank, McGhee 2 each). Blair County 28 (Hippo, McClain 5 each). Fouled out-None. Total fouls-Central PA 13, Blair County 11.
Officials-Clark Adelman, Mike Andrews, Gary Zimmerman.