BELLWOOD - It wasn't a playoff game or even a conference game, but Friday's girls basketball contest between Bellwood-Antis and Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic had all the energy and enthusiasm of a postseason matchup.
Bellwood-Antis started quickly and trailed only once while racing to a 60-51 victory before a packed, boisterous crowd at the B-A High School gym.
The Lady Blue Devils, who are expected to make a run at the District 6 Class AA title, improved to 10-2 while the Lady Marauders, perennial favorites in Class A, fell to 9-2.
"I respect Bishop Guilfoyle as much as any team we play," Bellwood coach Jim Swaney said, "but I told the kids at practice yesterday we needed to play the BG team that showed up tonight.
"I said if Alli Williams or Halee Adams or Kayla Bates walk through the door, they're not playing, so let's not play ghosts because they're not there anymore," he said of the former BG standouts.
"We thought we could win, and we did."
After Lili Benzel's 3-pointer gave BG a 5-4 lead, Bellwood, sparked by point guard Ana Hollen, went on an 11-1 run and never looked back.
Hollen scored 10 points in the first quarter and finished with a team-high 20, although she sat out parts of the second and third quarters with foul problems.
"BG's good every year," Hollen said, "and this is the first time, varsity-wise, that we've beaten them [in a while], so it feels great. If we only beat three teams all year, I'd want it to be Blairsville, BG and Tyrone."
Bellwood also has a win over Tyrone, but one of its two losses came against Blairsville in the Hollidaysburg Tournament. Blairsville beat the Blue Devils in last year's D6-AA final and handed BG its only loss (before Friday) this season.
Hollen said last night's quick start was big for Bellwood.
"We tend to get sluggish in the second half," she said. "We pushed the tempo and got up to a comfortable lead and didn't have to deal with the pressure that much."
"She's a gamer," Swaney said of Hollen, a 5-foot-7 junior. "As a point guard this year, she's averaging seven assists and one turnover a game, so, when you have a 7-1 ratio, that's an incredible stat.
"She's a kid who really has matured and really taken a leadership role with [senior] Bailey Swogger and [junior] Kelly Leamer," Swaney continued. "I can't say enough about her. She's a real player."
Freshman Karson Swogger scored 10 of her 13 points in the second half when Hollen and Bailey Swogger were on the bench. Bailey Swogger finished with 12 points, all in the first half.
Benzel supplied most of BG's offense, scoring 22 points. Annie Dombroski added 12 and was the only other Marauder in double figures.
Bellwood led by as many as 15 (30-15) in the second quarter, but BG cut it to 5 (52-47) early in the fourth quarter before the Blue Devils regrouped in the final three minutes to seal it.
"Both teams really played hard," BG coach Mark Moschella said. "To their credit, they did a nice job. They made perimeter shots and got some nice baskets inside, too.
"They were difficult to defend tonight, especially early," Moschella said. "I thought we were a step behind early. We started to get better defensively the second half.
"We got ourselves in a hole that we had to claw out," he said. "I'm proud our kids hung in there, so there's a lot of positives we can take out of this tonight. We lost to a really good team."
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (51): Benzel 9 2-5 22, M. Adams 3 2-6 8, Dombrowski 5 2-4 12, McGhee 1 0-0 2, Taddei 2 0-0 4, Scipioni 1 0-0 3. Totals - 21 6-15 51.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (60): K. Swogger 5 0-0 13, B. Swogger 4 3-4 12, Hollen 8 2-2 20, Leamer 3 0-1 7, Damiano 0 1-2 1, Lynn 2 0-0 4, Carles 1 1-2 3, Crider 0 0-0 0. Totals - 23 7-11 60.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Guilfoyle9 16 14 12 - 51
Bellwood-Antis15 17 14 14 - 60
3-point goals: Bishop Guilfoyle 3 (Benzel 2, Scipioni); Bellwood-Antis 7 (K. Swogger 3, Hollen 2, B. Swogger, Leamer).
Records: Bishop Guilfoyle (9-2); Bellwood-Antis (10-2).
JV: Bishop Guilfoyle, 46-35. High scorers-Brayley Lewis, BG, 13; Abby Crider, B-A, 13.