Trailing by just one point with two minutes to play, Hollidaysburg senior Morgan Griffith felt the balance of the game turn on her fingertips.
Penn-Trafford's Nicole Hyland missed a layup, and Griffith went up for the rebound. The ball tipped off her fingers, and Hyland got it back. Griffith fouled the 5-foot-10 senior while she made a basket. Hyland completed the three-point play, and Griffith left the game after fouling out with 1:59 to play.
Hollidaysburg never got any closer and fell, 50-41, in the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse Friday night.
Mirror photo by?Patrick?Waksmunski
Hollidaysburg’s Morgan Griffith tries to fight back her tears after Friday night’s loss to Penn-Trafford.
"I was going up for a rebound, and I knew I couldn't let them score," Griffith said. "I ended up fouling, and it just kind of hit me. I went numb. It was really hard to sit on the bench and watch the game be in my teammates' hands. It was really hard."
The Lady Tigers, who finished the season 22-3 with a District 6 championship, led by three at halftime against District 7's fifth-seeded entrant. The third quarter, however, turned out to be what doomed Hollidaysburg.
Courteney Storm made a pair of free throws with 6:34 left in the third quarter to give the Lady Tigers a 22-19 lead, but Penn-Trafford used a 13-0 run over the next six minutes to take a 10-point lead. Susie Ellis' 3-pointer with 43 seconds to play in the quarter turned out to be Hollidaysburg's only field goal of the period.
"They're such a good team and so big, but we kind of imposed our will in the paint," Penn-Trafford coach John Giannikas said. "We tried to double or triple as much as we could, and we just battled. I love these guys."
Ellis connected on her third 3-pointer of the game with 2:21 to play that capped a 12-6 Hollidaysburg run that brought the Lady Tigers within one. Hyland stopped the surge with her three-point play.
"I can't even think about the game," Hollidaysburg's Hannah Mercer said. "It's a blur to me. My legs are weak. We didn't play our game. We let them play their game. If we would have played our game, it would have been a different story.
"We just came out and didn't play the way we did all year."
After Griffith fouled out, Hollidaysburg was outscored, 12-4.
"Penn-Trafford played a very good game," Hollidaysburg coach Deanna Jubeck said. "They double, triple and quadruple covered Morgan Griffith, and when we got some shots from outside, we weren't able to hit them."
The game proved to be the final high school contest of Griffith, Mercer, Ellis, Michele Muir, Amy Tomassetti and Alexia Servello's career. The seniors were part of three consecutive district championships. The first two came in Class AAA.
"Winning the district title over Altoona was the greatest night of my life," Mercer said. "We really earned it, beating Altoona at St. Francis in front of our home crowd screaming. I couldn't even believe a moment like that existed.
"We just felt like that was the beginning of the road. I'm not saying I thought we were going to win states, but I thought we had a shot. We had the ability, the work ethic and the coaching staff. We just came up short today."
Penn-Trafford got points from seven different players, led by Casey Aunkst's 12 points. Hyland and Maddy Mossellem each scored 10 points for the Lady Warriors. Griffith led Hollidaysburg with 12 points, Ellis added nine and Mercer and Storm each scored eight points.
"Every time the ball came into me, I was swarmed with three or four girls on me," Griffith said. "I just couldn't get the ball out. They shut down pretty much everyone they needed to. They just played a completely different style of game."
PENN-TRAFFORD (50): Poole 0 0-0 0, Palarino 2 0-0 4, Aunkst 3 6-6 12, Bevilacqua 1 0-0 2, Matoney 0 0-0 0, Patterson 4 0-0 8, Hyland 4 2-5 10, Mossellem 3 3-4 10, Rector 2 0-2 4, Burchetti 0 0-0 0. Totals - 19 11-17 50.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (41): Servello 0 0-0 0, Storm 3 2-3 8, Muir 1 0-0 2, Mercer 2 3-4 8, Griffith 6 0-0 12, Ellis 3 0-0 9, Jennings 1 0-1 2. Totals - 16 5-8 41.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Penn-Trafford8 9 17 16 - 50
Hollidaysburg10 10 5 16 - 41
3-point goals: Penn-Trafford 1 (Mossellem); Hollidaysburg 4 (Ellis 3, Mercer).
Records: Penn-Trafford (20-5); Hollidaysburg (22-3).
Officials: Todd Parker, Gary Zimmerman, Dick Wagner.