HOLLIDAYSBURG - Bellwood-Antis was able to keep Bishop McCort star Nemo Trexler off the court for most of Saturday's District 6 Class AA quarterfinal game at Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School.
Thanks to the Crimson Crushers' Billy Hipp, it didn't matter.
Hipp scored 26 points and made the biggest play of the game on defense, stealing a pass and making a layup with 1:37 to play and Bellwood down by just three points, in McCort's 60-49 victory over the Blue Devils.
"If you would have told me that we'd have gotten [Trexler] on the bench the majority of the game, and we'd lose by 11, I would tell you that you were absolutely wrong," Bellwood-Antis coach Brent Gerwert said. "That was part of our game plan to get him in foul trouble, but we also planned on controlling Hipp and not letting him score the way he did tonight."
Bishop McCort improved to 17-7 and will play Penn Cambria in the semifinals on Tuesday. Bellwood-Antis ended its season 20-4.
Saturday's game marked the second consecutive year McCort beat Bellwood by 11 in the District 6 playoffs. The Crushers topped B-A in the district final a year ago.
The Blue Devils took their final lead of the game when Noah Davis scored the first four points of the second half to make the score 26-24. Bishop McCort responded with eight consecutive points, the first four on Hipp jump shots.
"We have really improved the last few weeks or so," Bishop McCort coach Pat Hollern said. "Billy really controlled the game offensively for us and kept us where we needed to be at all times."
The Crimson Crushers extended their lead to nine when Trexler dunked with 3:46 to play, but Bellwood-Antis came back with a 8-2 spurt led by 3-pointers from Cameron Worthing and Nathan Davis. Trailing by three with the ball, Bellwood passed up a couple of shot opportunities before Hipp intercepted a pass and cruised in for a layup.
On B-A's next possession, Tyler Rugg stole a pass and was fouled intentionally. He made one free throw and missed the second. After McCort retained possession, Trexler got the rebound, made a layup and locked up the game.
"We were trying to execute a play, and we just picked the wrong time to have two turnovers," Gerwert said. "We had two turnovers in a row after being within three with just over a minute to go. That could have been an eight-point swing, but oh well. It's part of the game."
Two Dominic Sisto free throws brought Bellwood within six, and Bishop McCort missed the front end of one-and-one's on back-to-back possessions. Seth Worthing, however, missed his own front end of a one-and-one, and the Crimson Crushers were 5-of-6 from the line in the final 43.5 seconds.
"I told them we had to make our free throws," Hollern said. "We finally did at the very end, but we can't allow that to happen."
Bellwood's loss ended the high school career of Noah Davis. The 6-foot-4 senior finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds while playing with a cast on his injured non-shooting wrist. Kyle Bartlett, Cameron Worthing, Seth Worthing, Sisto, Andrew Burget, Steffan Wyland, Mike Wilson and Jacob Pearson also will graduate from the Blue Devils' squad.
"All of our seniors had a great career," Gerwert said. "We had a goal of getting to the three championship games that we were able to get to. We [won] the [Reliance Bank] Christmas tournament final, the Inter-County Conference final, but obviously we didn't make the district final.
"Noah has had a great career, but we were in a tough bracket. It's luck of the draw, and we didn't get a great draw."
Noah's brother, freshman Nathan Davis, added 17 points for Bellwood.
"We are going to be in 'like' a rebuilding process next year, but it's not going to be rebuilding," Gerwert said. "A lot of people think we're going to be really down next year, but we have some players coming back and guys who can fill in some spots.
"We'll be OK. We won't be like the last two years, but we'll still be competing for a league championship."
BISHOP McCORT (60): Hipp 10 5-6 26, Neiderhiser 1 1-2 3, Spangler 3 1-3 8, Barbin 0 0-0 0, Trexler 4 0-1 8, Rugg 3 1-2 8, Coleman 0 0-0 0, Pastorek 2 0-0 5, Ingram 0 0-0 0, Helsel 1 0-1 2, DiFrancesco 0 0-0 0. Totals - 24 8-15 60.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (49): No. Davis 6 6-7 18, K. Bartlett 0 0-0 0, Sisto 2 4-4 9, Wyland 0 0-0 0, S. Worthing 0 0-1 0, Na. Davis 5 4-5 17, C. Worthing 2 0-0 5, Burget 0 0-0 0. Totals - 15 14-17 49.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop McCort12 12 14 22 - 60
Bellwood-Antis11 11 9 18 - 49
3-point goals: Bishop McCort 4 (Pastorek, Spangler, Hipp, Rugg); Bellwood-Antis 5 (Na. Davis 3, C. Worthing, Sisto).
Records: Bishop McCort (17-7); Bellwood-Antis (20-4).