When looking at a team's record on paper, it can often be misleading. This year's edition of Altoona Lady Lion basketball seems to fit that statement perfectly.
In a tight game in which a comfortable lead was hard to come by, a persistent Altoona squad fell to Central Dauphin East at the Fieldhouse, 68-64, Saturday night in a high school girls matchup.
In each of its defeats this season, Altoona (5-4) has lost by seven or fewer points.
What ended up being a relatively low-scoring first half, Altoona led, 2-0, until CD East evened the score with 4:07 remaining in the first quarter.
The Lady Panthers came out in a 2-3 zone and applied pressure that seemed to disrupt the Lady Lions' flow.
"They were running, trapping and stretching the 2-3 out," Altoona coach Jill Helsel said. "They got their hands in our passing lanes."
Senior point guard Kaycie Reffner was forced to make adjustments that improved the Lady Lions' offensive output.
"I kept crossing over in front of them when I shouldn't have," Reffner said. "I started to keep the ball to my side and it helped."
In the second quarter it was Darby Lee that got herself going for Altoona, repeatedly attacking down low to get to the line six times, five of which she made.
"I just told myself once I got the ball to take it up strong," Lee stated. "I just kept trying to finish."
Despite the constant pressure, Altoona trailed by just two at the half, 25-23. The second half saw a quicker pace by both teams, which led directly to more scoring.
"It was both teams running up and down the floor," Helsel said. "The pace picked up."
The Lady Lions would not let CD East pull away, repeatedly making shots to bring them within small margins. It was the Lady Panther duo of Calee and Michaela Gelbaugh that proved to be the difference, answering each Altoona basket with one of their own.
Calee Gelbaugh poured in 19 points, while younger sister Michaela had a game-high 24, 18 of which came in the second half.
"They [the Gelbaughs] did what they needed to do," Helsel stated. "They kept converting when the shot was there."
Reffner found her shot in the second half, as she finished with 12 points.
"I told myself someone needed to step up," Reffner said. "We were only down one, so it was within reach."
Altoona gained its only lead of the second half in the third quarter when Lee completed a three-point play to put the Lady Lions up, 33-32.
Senior center starter Kayla Grimme missed the game with what Helsel said was an ankle injury, but sophomore Rachel Dibert filled the void admirably, scoring 12 points, including some key shots in the fourth quarter.
"She stepped up, rebounded the ball and put it back in," Helsel said. "She hit some big shots in the fourth quarter and played a very good game."
Trailing by five with just 45 seconds remaining, Altoona watched CD East missed the front end of two one-and-ones that gave Altoona a chance.
Dibert trimmed the lead to three with just 29 seconds left, but it was as close as the Lady Lions would get. Lady Panthers guard Lindsey D'Agostino made three of four free throws in the final seconds to secure the victory.
"We are in every single game with scoring across the board," Helsel said. " They are very fixable problems that we have, I have no doubt they will step up."
Altoona is at State College on Wednesday.
CENTRAL DAUPHIN EAST (68): C.Gelbaugh 7 4-5 19, M.Gelbaugh 9 2-2 24, Robinson 2 5-6 10, Stuart 2 1-1 5, Wanner 1 0-3 2, D'Agostino 2 4-7 8, Khan 0 0-0 0. Totals - 23 16-24 68.
ALTOONA (64): Lee 6 5-7 17, Donley 3 0-0 9, Reffner 4 2-2 12, Hatch 3 4-6 11, Knab 1 0-0 3, Dibert 5 2-2 12, Feathers 0 0-0 0. Totals - 22 13-17 64.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central Dauphin East13 12 21 22 - 68
Altoona12 11 18 23 - 64
3-point goals: Central Dauphin East 6 (C.Gelbaugh 1, M.Gelbaugh 4, Robinson 1); Altoona 7 (Donley 3, Reffner 2, Hatch 1, Knab 1).
Records: Central Dauphin East (10-2); Altoona (5-4).
JV: Altoona, 49-33. High scorers-Knab, A, 18; Holmes, CDE, 7.