HOLLIDAYSBURG - Morgan Griffith is endeavoring to add to her basketball game as she enters her senior season at Hollidaysburg Area High School.
While she might be venturing out into the neighborhood that is the court a little bit more frequently, the paint is still Griffith's home turf, and woe to anyone that dares trespass on it.
"I tend to think it's mine, that I need to protect it for my team,'' Griffith said. "I'm told to dominate. That's the word that we always use.''
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
McLanahan Corporation team members include (from left):?First row—Hannah Mercer, Amy Tomassetti, Susie Ellis, Michele Muir, Morgan Griffith. Second row—Kassie Hurliman, Payton Civils, Courteney Storm, Kiki Davis. Third row—Emily Haupt, Sierra Kirsch, Alex Scheel, Alexis Stitt, Ashley McClain, Caroline Ellis.
It was an appropriate description of her performance in Sunday afternoon's Hollidaysburg Area YMCA Women's Summer Basketball League High School Division championship game.
Wolford Gearhart's Moving & Storage - Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic's entry - had no answer for Griffith, as she controlled the boards, rejected shots and scored a game-high 20 points to lift McLanahan Corporation to a surprisingly easy 55-38 win at the Reliance Bank Gymnasium.
Hannah Mercer also reached double figures for McLanahan's with 10 points, while Ashley McClain came off the bench to score eight from a guard-heavy rotation that pestered and picked Wolford Gearhart's apart all game. However, it was apparent that having Griffith to draw defensive attention or to contest opposing field goal attempts played a huge part in McLanahan's successful formula.
"Morgan means everything to us, with her size and her experience,'' Mercer said. "She'll get a double-double every game this year.''
McLanahan pulled ahead by 13 points in the middle of the first half and was not closely challenged the rest of the way. The only time it really seemed Wolford Gearhart was gaining any momentum was the beginning of the second half, but Griffith squelched that by powerfully grabbing her own missed shot in traffic and ricocheted off a defender while scoring inside for a three-point play.
How good were things going for Griffith? She even tipped in a missed shot a few minutes later as her team's lead began climbing toward 20 points.
"I didn't even try to tip that in. I was just going up for a rebound, and it went in,'' Griffith said with a laugh.
Elyssa Ehredt's nine points led the way for Wolford Gearhart, while reigning Altoona Mirror Girls Basketball Player of the Year Kayla Bates had seven. Wolford Gearhart was playing without 2011 Mirror Player of the Year Halee Adams, who was on the sideline in street clothes.
The Guilfoyle contingent committed an unusually high 16 turnovers.
"We didn't do a very good job of handling their pressure,'' Bates said. "It's always a tough matchup with them. In the second half, we did a better job. But we need to do a better job of staying calm. Their pressure got to us.''
Wolford Gearhart usually does that to other teams, but McLanahan, despite playing a very fast tempo, only turned the ball over five times. Two of those came in the last 40 seconds after both coaches had cleared their benches.
"We're able to do that because the majority of us have been around, and our camaraderie is really good. I think it's the maturity level,'' Mercer said. "When we're on a big court like this, we're able to get out and run. I knew when we got into the playoffs and got onto a big court like this, it'd be to our advantage.''
McLanahan had the best record among the high school teams and the second best record of any team in the regular season. Although this group of Hollidaysburg seniors has been in the title mix since it began playing in the Y League, this was its first championship, and that might add a little boost to the Lady Tigers' confidence when the two-time defending District 6 Class AAA champions move up to Class AAAA this season and have to battle Altoona and State College for one berth in the interdistrict tournament.
"I think this means a lot,'' Mercer said.
WOLFORD GEARHART'S MOVING & STORAGE (38): Bates 1 5-6 7, Stessney 1 2-2 4, Boslet 2 0-0 6, Ehredt 3 3-4 9, Miller 2 0-0 5, Craig 2 0-0 4, E. Adams 0 1-2 1, Luciano 0 0-0 0, McGhee 0 0-0 0, Ruggery 0 0-0 0, Spencer 1 0-0 2. Totals - 12-37 11-14 38.
MCLANAHAN CORPORATION (55): Mercer 4 2-2 10, S. Ellis 1 1-2 4, Muir 3 1-2 7, Storm 1 0-0 2, Griffith 7 6-7 20, McClain 3 0-0 8, Tomassetti 1 0-0 2, Civils 0 0-0 0, Hurliman 0 0-0 0, Kirsch 1 0-0 2, Stitt 0 0-0 0, C. Ellis 0 0-0 0, Scheel 0 0-0 0. Totals - 21-48 10-13 55.
Halftime-McLanahan Corporation, 28-19. 3-point goals-Wolford Gearhart's Moving & Storage 3-5 (Boslet 2, Miller); McLanahan Corporation 3-11 (S. Ellis, McClain 2). Officials-Keith Redfoot, Joe Bilka, Teri Piatak.