HOLLIDAYSBURG - Bellwood-Antis has had plenty of success during the regular season in Jim Swaney's first two years as coach at the school, but the playoffs haven't gone so well.
The Lady Blue Devils, despite being a high seed both years, fell in Central Cambria in 2011 and Richland in 2012.
On Saturday night, B-A took on the Lady Red Devils again, but things were different. A lot different.
Bellwood-Antis pulled away in the second quarter and played suffocating defense in its 55-28 victory over Central Cambria at the Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School.
"We're still very young, but we're a veteran team," Swaney said. "Even the three sophomores that we start played a lot of basketball as freshmen. Defensively, I'm very proud of the kids. If we keep playing defense like that, we're going to be a tough out for anybody."
The next team taking a shot at the No. 2 seeded Lady Blue Devils will be No. 3 seeded Westmont Hilltop, a 53-43 winner over Tyrone in its quarterfinal contest.
"We'll show up and see what happens," Swaney said. "[Westmont] is very good, and they'll give us a battle. We know that. They're there every year, and they are battle-tested. They are going to play us hard, but our kids believe in themselves."
Central Cambria did its best to shake Bellwood's confidence early. The Lady Red Devils got a 3-pointer from Taylor Boring to pull within one with 2:29 left to play in the first quarter. B-A's Katy Leamer and CC's Bri Wasser traded baskets, but Central Cambria committed a turnover with a chance to take the lead that led to an Ana Hollen basket just before the end of the quarter to put Bellwood ahead by three.
"We played a real good first quarter, but shots weren't falling from the second quarter on," Central Cambria coach John Dziack said. "They shot [nearly] 30 foul shots and we shot 10. It's hard to make that up."
A Katie Bracken basket brought Central Cambria within 21-16, but Hollen's traditional three-point play with 4:09 left started a 9-0 Bellwood run to end the half.
"We really focused on our defense to pull ahead," Hollen said. "Bailey Swogger did a great job against [Wasser] and really shut her down. She's basically their whole offense, so when we shut her down, we gave ourselves a good chance to go on a run."
Wasser, CC's leading scorer this season, finished with just five points. The Lady Red Devils were led by Boring's 10 points.
Central Cambria scored the first four points of the second half to pull within 10, but Bellwood went on a 12-0 run to put the game away.
"Our shots just didn't fall, and they hit shots," Dziack said. "They took away some of the things we did in our [first round] win over Richland."
Eight of B-A's points in that run were scored by Kelly Leamer, who finished with 12 points. Katy Leamer led the Lady Blue Devils with 14 points.
"Kelly Leamer hit some huge shots," Swaney said. "She was good. She was playing a lot of basketball before Ellen Crook got hurt, but she has stepped up even more since then."
Game notes: Crook, still out with an injury, sat on the bench during the game. ... Seniors Bracken, Taylor King-Brothers, Marisa Ritchey and Gracie Wright started for Central Cambria and played in their final game. ... Katy Leamer just missed a double-double, leading the Lady Blue Devils with nine rebounds.
CENTRAL CAMBRIA (28): King-Brothers 2 0-0 5, Wright 0 0-0 0, Bracken 3 0-0 7, Ritchey 0 0-0 0, Wasser 2 1-2 5, Boring 3 3-4 10, Hayward 0 0-0 0, Berzonsky 0 1-4 1, McKeel 0 0-0 0, Hildebrand 0 0-0 0, Papuga 0 0-0 0. Totals - 10 5-10 28.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (55): Hollen 4 3-3 11, Ka. Leamer 3 7-9 14, Swogger 2 2-6 6, Ke. Leamer 4 1-2 12, Damiano 2 2-2 6, Finn 1 0-1 2, Mercer 1 0-0 2, Showalter 0 0-0 0, Claar 0 0-2 0, Crider 0 2-2 2, Carroll 0 0-0 0, Stevens 0 0-0 0, Whaley 0 0-0 0. Totals - 17 17-27 55.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central Cambria10 6 5 7 - 28
Bellwood-Antis13 17 14 11 - 55
3-point goals: Central Cambria 4 (Ke. Leamer 3, Ka. Leamer); Bellwood-Antis 3 (King-Brothers, Bracken, Boring).
Records: Central Cambria (11-13); Bellwood-Antis (23-1).
Officials: Jack McDougal, Tom Fountaine, Dick Smith.