CLAYSBURG - Bellwood-Antis girls basketball coach Jim Swaney preached to his team that Saturday's Inter-County Conference championship game against Southern Fulton, a rematch of last year's Lady Indians' victory, wasn't about revenge.
He didn't convince Katy Leamer - or himself apparently.
"This feels great," said Leamer after Bellwood-Antis beat Southern Fulton, 53-48, for the title at Claysburg-Kimmel High School. "It's great to come out and win since we lost last year. Coach always says that it's not about revenge, but, sometimes, it kind of is."
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
B-A’s Bailey Swogger dribbles around Southern?Fulton defender Kayla Wertz.
The Lady Blue Devils built a nine-point lead at halftime and held steady despite tenacious defense from Southern Fulton in the second half.
"Listen, there's revenge in sports," Swaney said. "The teams that beat you previous years, especially when teams return as many girls as both of ours did, you think about it.
"We thought we didn't play our best game last year, and we wanted to atone for that."
Southern Fulton took an 11-6 lead in the first quarter before Bellwood-Antis used a 12-1 run to go ahead, 18-12. The Lady Indians never led again.
Bailey Swogger scored seven of her game-high 20 points in the quarter.
"[Swogger] had a great game," Leamer said. "I give her all the credit in the world. I don't think we could have won without her."
Southern Fulton pulled within four with 4:10 to play when Macey Hollenshead made one of two free throws, but the Lady Devils scored the next seven points to stretch the lead to 11. The Lady Indians weren't quite done, scoring the next seven points to get back within four with 37.9 seconds left.
Swogger made sure Southern Fulton's rally came up short by making a pair of free throws on B-A's next possession to put the game away.
"We were just giving them foul shots the whole game," Southern Fulton coach Terry Bard said. "I think the first half, they had 13 attempts to our six, and they were hitting them and we weren't. That's huge in a five-point game."
B-A finished 16-for-24 from the line while Southern Fulton was 9-for-16.
Leamer scored 16 points, and Ana Hollen added 12 points for Bellwood.
"I can't say enough about Ana Hollen running the point," Swaney said. "Hollenshead is a really good point guard, and she applies a lot of pressure defensively. Ana did a great job of keeping everything under control and making sure the ball got to where it needed to be."
Hollenshead won her fair share of the battles with Hollen, too. The 5-foot-6 junior, who has already reached the 1,000 career points mark, led the Lady Indians with 18 points and helped force many of Bellwood's 20 turnovers.
The Lady Devils were playing without guard Ellen Crook, who suffered a concussion earlier in the season.
"We don't know," said Swaney regarding Crook's availability for the playoffs. "We'll wait and see what the doctor says, and it's out of our hands. Our first priority is to make sure she's OK. When we know she's OK, we'll talk about her playing."
SOUTHERN FULTON (48): Hollenshead 6 6-10 18, Chilcote 1 0-0 2, Roman 5 3-4 13, Wertz 1 0-0 3, T. Morton 5 0-0 12, Merchant 0 0-0 0, Strait 0 0-0 0. Totals - 18 9-16 48.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (53): Hollen 4 4-7 12, Ka. Leamer 5 4-4 16, Swogger 7 6-9 20, Ke. Leamer 1 1-2 4, Damiano 0 1-2 1, Finn 0 0-0 0, Mercer 0 0-0 0. Totals - 17 16-24 53.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Southern Fulton14 6 14 14 - 48
Bellwood-Antis20 9 11 13 - 53
3-point goals: Southern Fulton 3 (T. Morton 2, Wertz); Bellwood-Antis 3 (Ka. Leamer, Ke. Leamer).
Records: Southern Fulton (21-2); Bellwood-Antis (22-1).
Officials: Dave Reimer, Keith Redfoot, Teresa Laratonda.