The Hollidaysburg Lady Tigers couldn't have asked for a better start to their 2012-13 basketball season Friday night.
Hollidaysburg burst out to a 25-11 lead after one quarter and ballooned the advantage to 44-25 at halftime en route to an 85-48 victory over Bishop McCort in the opening round of the Marguerite Frederick Lady Marauder Classic at Bishop Guilfoyle's Pleasant Valley gymnasium.
Hollidaysburg showed off its balance and depth in rolling to an opening-night victory that earned the Lady Tigers a berth opposite Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic - a 63-22 winner over Central Mountain Friday - in today's 5 p.m. championship game. Hollidaysburg coach Deanna Jubeck was afforded the luxury of getting all 17 players on her roster into the game, and 13 of them scored.
Hollidaysburg's senior-dominated lineup shined, with four seniors - Morgan Griffith and Michele Muir (13 points apiece), Susie Ellis (12) and Hannah Mercer (10) - scoring in double figures. Sophomore Ashley McClain also came off the bench to score 13 as Hollidaysburg raced out early and never looked back.
"We got a quick start out of the gates,'' Jubeck said. "We got into our transition game, and we were able to get some easy buckets off steals tonight. That's what we were looking to do.
"It's the first game of the season,'' Jubeck added. "We're nowhere near where we need to be come February, but it was a very good team effort. We all played well together.''
Hollidaysburg scored 15 of the game's first 19 points to take command. Junior forward Courteney Storm came up with a pair of field goals and a free throw to complete a 3-point play, and Muir hit three field goals in the early run for Hollidaysburg.
"We knew we had to come out strong,'' Muir said. "It's still early in the season. We still have a lot to work on, but everybody was excited for the first game, and everybody had an all-together great game.''
Once Hollidaysburg got going, its momentum just snowballed. Ellis hit a pair of 3-pointers in the game, including one in the first quarter, when she made two free throws.
McClain hit six of six free throws in the second quarter, and Muir added five points on a trey and regular field goal, as Hollidaysburg built its 19-point lead at the break.
"We knew we wanted to come out strong and get a big lead,'' said Ellis, a senior guard. "We were all excited. We consider this one of the most important games of our season.''
Jubeck and Ellis also felt that the Lady Tigers played well defensively.
"We worked a lot on our defense, and with getting in the right position,'' Ellis said. "We also worked a lot on our shooting, and it paid off tonight.''
With its senior leadership and excellent depth - the Lady Tigers picked up several key transfer players in the offseason - Hollidaysburg figures to be a force to be reckoned with in the District 6-AAAA tournament this season.
Hollidaysburg certainly made a believer out of Bishop McCort coach John Hahn Friday.
"That's a nice team,'' Hahn said of the Lady Tigers. "They were a tough draw for us in the first round, but we're a better team for having had the experience of playing them. We're a young team, and we knew this would be a big test for us. We wanted to play man-to-man defense against them, but we just couldn't just match up with them.''
McCort was led by Steph Hrbal's game-high 15 points and Mackenzie Barbin's 11. Hollidaysburg, which made 12 of 13 free throws in the game, was led by Griffith's 10 rebounds.
Hollidaysburg figures to get a stiffer test in today's championship game against tournament host Bishop Guilfoyle.
"They have a great nucleus of players, and two Division I players,'' Jubeck said of BG. "It's going to take a total team effort by us to stop what they do.''
BISHOP MCCORT (48): Daley 1 0-0 2, Hrbal 6 3-7 15, Barbin 5 0-0 11, Krouse 1 1-2 3, Burkhart 3 0-0 6, McGrath 2 2-3 6, McIntosh 0 1-2 1, Seidel 1 0-0 2, Miller 1 0-0 2, Wilson 0 0-0 0, Rhine 0 0-0 0, Tomkowski 0 0-0 0. Totals - 20 7-14 48.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (85): Griffith 6 1-2 13, Storm 3 3-3 9, Muir 6 0-0 13, Mercer 5 0-0 10, Servello 0 0-0 0, S. Ellis 4 2-2 12, Jennings 0 0-0 0, Tomassetti 1 0-0 2, Davis 1 0-0 2, McClain 3 6-6 13, Palfey 1 0-0 2, Hurliman 1 0-0 2, Kirsch 1 0-0 2, Haupt 1 0-0 2, Scheel 0 0-0 0, Stitt 1 0-0 3, C. Ellis 0 0-0 0. Totals - 34 12-13 85.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop McCort11 14 11 12 - 48
Hollidaysburg25 19 23 18 - 85
3-point goals: Bishop McCort 1 (Barbin); Hollidaysburg 5 (Ellis 2, Mercer, McClain, Stitt).
Records: Bishop McCort (0-1); Hollidaysburg (1-0).
Officials: Jim Klausman, Jim Cushion, Keith Redfoot.