HOLLIDAYSBURG - Shooting from the 3-point arc is Lauren Donley's stock and trade, so her eyes lit up when she got an open look from the right wing late in the game.
"I wasn't surprised. We've been running our offense, and they've been getting me open," Donley said. "I knew it was going in."
Donley's intuition was spot on.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
McKenzie Hatch (left) and Darby Lee of Hippo-Fleming-Pertile (Altoona) fight for the ball with Morgan Jennings of McLanahan Corporation (Hollidaysburg).
Hippo-Fleming-Pertile Law Offices used its strength inside to build a commanding lead in the second half but its perimeter play to hold on at the end for a 55-51 win over defending champion McLanahan Corporation (Hollidaysburg Area High School) in the Hollidaysburg Area YMCA Women's Basketball Summer League High School Division championship on Sunday at the Reliance Bank Gymnasium.
The victory avenged a setback in the regular season for Hippo-Fleming-Pertile, Altoona Area High School's entry into the league. Hartford recruit Darby Lee of Hippo-Fleming-Pertile paced all scorers with 19 points, all coming from near the basket.
"We knew from the beginning that it was going to be a hard game, but we look forward to it. I would expect nothing less from a Hollidaysburg game," Lee said. "The key thing is just to keep your composure in that situation."
Hippo-Fleming-Pertile handled the mental pressure twice - although it had some issues handling the full-court pressure McLanahan's applied to erase a nine-point deficit in the last 8 minutes. McLanahan even secured a 49-48 advantage when Alexis Palfey passed to Morgan Jennings for a tough fall-away jumper with about 2 minutes to play.
Around a minute later with the same score, Donley found herself all alone on the wing and got the ball to swish the go-ahead trey. Then, her younger sister, Sarah, found her filling the lane on the fast break for a layup that made it 53-49.
"It feels good that I can score in other ways [than just 3-pointers]," said Lauren Donley, who finished with 11 points and three treys.
Jennings scored again to cut the difference to two points, and Hippo-Fleming-Pertile turned the ball over twice to give McLanahan an opportunity to tie. Courteney Storm's 3-pointer from the top of the key was off, though, and Palfey couldn't covert the follow.
"I thought it was open. I just didn't hit it when I should have," said Storm, who scored 10 points to join Jennings (14) and Ashley McClain (11) in double figures.
McLanahan's pressure paid immediate dividends to completely change the complexion of the game. Hippo-Fleming-Pertile turned the ball over the first three times it faced the press and ended up with six against it in 8 minutes.
"We knew there was plenty of time to come back. We just kept working hard," Storm said.
Trailing for most of the first half, Hippo-Fleming-Pertile took control in the first 10 minutes of the second behind its post players. Lee, freshman Alayna Biesecker and Rachel Dibert combined for 32 points.
H-F-P coach Jill Helsel tried to keep her players from getting flustered when they were down at halftime.
"She pretty much just said, 'Keep doing what you're doing,''' Lee said. "'You're down, you need to get up.' We just came out and got it back."
Hollidaysburg swept Altoona in three games during the 2012-13 high school season but graduated five of its top seven players. Judging by the competitiveness of Sunday's game, though, the series in 2013-14 still might be pretty exciting.
"I think just by being in the championship shows we have the ability to be good," Storm said. "Losing to Altoona is always going to be bitter. It's a big rival."
MCLANAHAN CORPORATION (51): McClain 3 4-4 11, Palfey 4 0-0 9, Storm 4 2-2 10, Jennings 6 2-5 14, Scheel 0 2-4 2, Davis 1 0-0 3, Hurliman 0 0-0 0, Kirsch 0 2-2 2, Haupt 0 0-0 0. Totals - 18 12-17 51.
HIPPO-FLEMING-PERTILE LAW OFFICES (55): Hatch 2 1-3 6, S. Donley 0 2-3 2, L. Donley 4 0-1 11, Lee 9 1-4 19, Biesecker 4 1-2 9, Dibert 1 2-2 4, Mayhue 0 1-2 1, Caracciolo 0 0-0 0, Knab 1 0-0 3, Muffie 0 0-0 0, Davis 0 0-0 0. Totals - 21 8-17 55.
Halftime: McLanahan Corporation, 29-25. 3-point goals: McLanahan Corporation 3 (Palfey, McClain, Davis); Hippo-Fleming-Pertile Law Offices 5 (L. Donley 3, Knab, Hatch).
Officials: Terri Piatak, Joe Bilka, Jack McDougal.