HOLLIDAYSBURG - Deanna Jubeck's halftime talk must have been the gut check the Hollidaysburg girls basketball team needed Wednesday night.
The Lady Tigers trailed rival Altoona, 27-23, after two quarters, and if not for senior Courteney Storm's 15 first-half points, could have been down by a lot more.
But Hollidaysburg needed only 55 seconds to open the third quarter to turn a four-point deficit into a three-point advantage and was able to sustain enough of its momentum in a 55-48 victory over the Lady Lions.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Hollidaysburg’s Alex Scheel puts up a shot down low over Altoona’s Lauren?Donley during the Lady Tigers’ victory.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Altoona’s McKenzie Hatch looks to put up a shot over Hollidaysburg’s Ashley McClain on Wednesday night.
"We felt that at the beginning of the game, Altoona came out with a lot of energy, a lot of 'want,'" Jubeck said. "We didn't have that spark that we wanted.
"Our halftime speech was all about heart and who wanted it more. At that point in time, it just had to be something mental to turn the switch back on."
And the switch was immediate.
After Storm nailed a 3-pointer 14 seconds into the third quarter, the Lady Tigers (3-0) turned a pair of Altoona turnovers into four points with scores by Sierra Kirsch and Alex Scheel.
"We knew coming out of the half that we were in foul trouble with Alex Scheel and Morgan Jennings," Jubeck said. "We knew we had to change the tempo of the game.
"Our tempo is our press, so when we threw those kids back in the game, we knew we were able to throw our press on. We got a couple of quick steals and we scored some easy layups."
The Lady Lions (0-3) were able to bounce back and momentarily re-take the lead, but foul trouble kept Mirror first-team all-star selection Darby Lee on the bench during critical stretches.
Lee scored only nine points and fouled out with 1:38 left in the game.
"[Lee out of the game] was huge," Altoona coach Jill Helsel. "If we get kids in foul trouble, other kids have to step in. The kids who stepped in tonight did a really good job.
"It hurts, though, when you have a player of the caliber like Darby that gets in trouble. Credit Hollidaysburg. They went right at her."
Hollidaysburg junior point guard Ashley McClain made her third career start - all this season - and was pivotal in her role in the second half.
She chipped in eight points.
"I think Ashley McClain did a great job controlling the tempo," Jubeck said. "She knew when to push the ball, she knew when to pull back and set things up. It was a great effort by her tonight. She played very smart and did what she had to do."
McKenzie Hatch led Altoona with 12 points, while Rachel Dibert had eight. Sophomore Sarah Donley had seven points off the bench, all of which were in the third quarter.
"We had some kids come in and they played well," Helsel said. "Every little bit builds their confidence. Every game is used to help build you through the season."
But the night ultimately belonged to Storm, who sealed the win hitting 9-of-10 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
The second-year starter led all scorers with 31 points.
"That's what we expect from her," Jubeck said. "She's our senior leader."
"Thanks to my teammates for doing really well," Storm said. "They would penetrate and pass it because they knew I was open. It's all because of them."
The Lady Lions have yet to crack the win column, but Helsel is finding positives to build upon.
"We controlled the first half. I was happy with how we played defense," Helsel said. "I was happy with our aggressiveness on offense. The second half, we had some turnovers. We weren't moving on defense like we were in the first half. It really hurt us.
"This game, it's disappointing and it hurts right now, but we look at the big picture. Getting those young kids experience, which we're going to need down the road is promising for us."
Meanwhile, Hollidaysburg has pretty much picked up where it left off after defeating Altoona in last year's District 6 Class AAAA championship game.
But even though the Lady Tigers are undefeated, they aren't satisfied yet.
"It's one of those games where it's early in the season, and we're nowhere near where we want to be at this point in time," Jubeck said. "I feel we're playing well for December, but we'll need to play a lot better moving forward."
ALTOONA (48): Hatch 5 2-2 12, Dibert 3 2-3 8, L. Donley 2 0-0 5, Knab 1 0-0 3, Lee 4 1-2 9, Shetrom 1 0-0 2, S. Donley 3 0-0 7, Biesecker 1 0-0 2. Totals - 20 5-7 48.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (55): Jennings 0 1-2 1, Storm 10 9-12 31, Kirsch 4 0-0 9, Scheel 2 2-4 6, McClain 2 4-6 8, Davis 0 0-2 0, Hurliman 0 0-0 0, Palfey 0 0-0 0, Haupt 0 0-0 0. Totals - 18 16-26 55.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Altoona12 15 9 12 - 48
Hollidaysburg10 13 15 17 - 55
3-point goals: Altoona 3 (L. Donley, Knab, S. Donley); Hollidaysburg 3 (Storm 2, Kirsch).
Records: Altoona (0-3); Hollidaysburg (3-0).
JV: Hollidaysburg, 55-48. High scorers-Ellis, H, 11.