HOLLIDAYSBURG - Trailing by 12 against defending District 6 Class AA girls basketball champion Blairsville with just more than a minute remaining, Bellwood-Antis used a 10-0 run to pull within two points with 12.9 seconds left.
The Lady Blue Devils couldn't cap off the rally, falling 49-47 in their season opener at the Lester McCall Memorial Tip-Off Tournament at Hollidaysburg Senior High School, but coach Jim Swaney said the team that pulled off the big run at the end is closer to Bellwood's true form than the one that lost the game.
"The last 2 minutes of the game, when we realized we were going to lose, we played the way we're capable of," Swaney said. "Prior to that, I'm not so sure we played as hard as you need to play to win against this type of opponent.
Photo for the Mirror by Frank?Grande
Bellwood-Antis’ Bailey?Swogger tries to drive on?Blairsville defender Chelsey Koren.
"The urgency that we played with for most of the second half will beat a lot of teams on our schedule, but it won't beat Blairsville. To our credit, we came back and made it interesting, but we're a veteran basketball team. We're not playing to make it interesting."
Blairsville beat Bellwood, 71-61, for the district championship last spring. Both squads have lost key players from that game to graduation, but one player that returned for the Lady Bobcats, Chelsey Koren, picked up right where she left off.
Koren matched her 23-point performance from the district championship with another 23 on Friday. Fourteen of those points came in the second half and most of them came from beating Bellwood down the court on fast breaks. She also added 13 rebounds.
"We condition a lot," Blairsville coach Ralph McGinnis said. "We go baseline from baseline. We saw them lose their legs a little bit in the middle of the third quarter, and we knew we could get our scoring going."
Blairsville, down 22-18 at halftime, outscored Bellwood-Antis 19-11 in the third quarter.
"They played harder than we did," Swaney said. "They beat us up and down the floor, and that's my fault. We've got to ratchet up the intensity in practice a little bit and make sure this doesn't happen again. That will start [this] morning."
The Lady Blue Devils will play Bradford in the consolation game today at 1 p.m.
Kelly Leamer led Bellwood with 18 points and seven rebounds. The junior guard made a 3-pointer with 5:49 left to cut B-A's deficit to 39-36, but the Lady Bobcats responded with a 10-1 run to seemingly put the game away. Four of Blairsville's five field goals during the run were layups.
Bellwood freshman Karson Swogger, who struggled with her shot from beyond the arc for most of the night, made her first career 3-pointer with 1:08 to play to start the Lady Devils' frantic final-minute run.
Ana Hollen, who scored a game-high 25 points in the district championship a year ago but was held without a field goal Friday, made two free throws, and Selena Damiano added a layup with 25.6 seconds left that cut the lead to five.
Blairsville's 20th turnover of the game led to another Swogger 3-pointer, and the Lady Bobcats called a timeout leading by just two.
"I was panicking there for a minute," McGinnis said. "It's hard to go from that speed of attacking to be able to pull the reins back a bit and keep sharp. It didn't help it was the first game of the year, but luckily there wasn't another 30 seconds left."
Hollen fouled out of the game with 4.1 seconds left with just four points. The junior guard missed a large portion of the first half dealing with foul trouble.
"She had three fouls, and I had to take her out for most of the first half," Swaney said. "She was trying to play with the fouls in the second half and wasn't quite as aggressive as she normally would be. Ana will be fine, she's a solid player and I'll be shocked if she doesn't show up [today] and have a great game."
BLAIRSVILLE (49): Misleaney 2 1-1 5, Boyer 3 0-0 7, Clayton 1 0-0 2, O'Barto 5 2-3 12, Koren 10 3-5 23, Ostach 0 0-0 0, Small 0 0-0 0. Totals - 21 6-9 49.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (47): Hollen 0 4-6 4, B. Swogger 1 0-0 2, K. Swogger 4 2-4 12, Leamer 7 1-4 18, Se. Damiano 2 1-3 5, Lynn 1 0-0 2, Showalter 2 0-0 4, Carles 0 0-0 0. Totals - 17 8-17 47.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Blairsville9 9 19 12 - 49
Bellwood-Antis13 9 11 14 - 47
3-point goals: Blairsville 1 (Boyer); Bellwood-Antis 5 (Leamer 3, K. Swogger 2).
Records: Blairsville (1-0); Bellwood-Antis (0-1).
Officials: Tracy Cornelius, Stan Risser, Denny Detwiler.