All's well that ends well.
At least that's how the Hollidaysburg Area High School girls basketball team is looking at Friday night's clash with archrival Altoona this morning.
The Lady Tigers looked like a well-oiled machine at the start and surged to a 15-point halftime lead. However, foul problems for Hollidaysburg and some lights-out shooting brought Altoona all the way back, even allowing the
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Altoona’s Natalie Knab and Hollidaysburg’s Morgan Jennings go all out after a loose ball during Friday’s game.
Lady Lions to briefly go ahead before the Lady Tigers emerged with a 56-52 win at the AAHS Fieldhouse that pushed their record to 14-1.
"They stayed poised, and that was the bottom line there," Hollidaysburg coach Deanna Jubeck said. "When they made their run, I think our kids stayed focused, and they pulled together, and they gelled together a little bit tighter."
Hollidaysburg wasn't able to secure the victory until Courteney Storm made two foul shots with 9.6 seconds remaining to make it a four-point game. Storm led all scorers with 23 points, while Ashley McClain fired in 17, and Alex Scheel scored 10.
Darby Lee netted 20 for Altoona, which slipped to 7-8 despite having a packed house and about 40 former players on hand to support the team and former Lady Lion Cassie Grassmyer, whose son, Jack, was born with lissencephaly. Sarah Donley added 12 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter to power the Lady Lions' comeback.
"I definitely got a little nervous," Storm said, "but I knew I had to keep it together and keep my teammates up."
Hollidaysburg matched its biggest lead of the game at 16 points when Storm converted an old-fashioned three-point play in reverse - coming up with the loose ball after missing the second attempt on a two-shot foul and putting in the layup - with 3:47 to play.
Altoona, however, matched the 25 points it scored in the first 21 minutes over the next eight, going on a 25-8 run that culminated with Lee's three-point play at the 3:17 mark of the fourth quarter to give the Lady Lions a 50-49 advantage.
"Tonight, we found ourselves in a pretty big deficit, and we came back," Altoona coach Jill Helsel said. "We were able to get them in foul trouble, and we were able to score."
Just 1-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half, Altoona 6-of-16 behind the arc in the final two quarters. Donley made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter after her older sister Lauren helped get the barrage going with a pair of treys in the third.
"We look inside [to score]. If that's taken away, we look outside," Helsel said. "People key on Darby a lot and double-team, which leaves the guards open. Credit our guards. They were setting great screens and getting our kids open, and our young kids were knocking them down."
Altoona's rally coincided exactly with the point in the game when Scheel and fellow Lady Tiger forward Morgan Jennings were forced to come out of the game with their fourth fouls 90 seconds apart in the fourth quarter.
"When you've got two kids about 6-foot protecting your paint, who were rebounding well in the first half, it was big to lose them," Jubeck said. "It was tough to have them on the bench for that extended period."
Jennings came back with 5:37 to play, and Scheel got back in with 2:37 left. Almost immediately, Scheel hit a hook shot over Lee to put the Lady Tigers in front again, and the best Altoona could do the rest of the way is tie at 52.
"She's a huge part of this team," Storm said of Scheel. "When our shots aren't going in, we rely on her. So the fact that she's making big plays is a really good thing."
Scheel had six points in the first quarter alone, but all the Lady Tigers seemed to be making big plays through the first 16 minutes. In the first half, Hollidaysburg was 12-for-21 from the field and outrebounded Altoona, 14-12. The Lady Lions also had four turnovers in the first 3:30.
Hollidaysburg started the game on a 7-0 run. McClain made a 3-pointer 30 seconds into the contest and had 11 points by halftime.
"We had good practices the last two days, went over our offenses. We just did what we were supposed to," McClain said. "It's a big game for us, but we wanted to get the best shot possible. Making the extra pass was what we had to do.
"I just had a feeling we were going to pull it out. I was very confident."
Down the stretch, Jennings went 3-for-6 from the line, sandwiched around Lauren Donley's layup off a Sarah Donley steal. Altoona, though, was unable to regain the lead - shots in close by Lee and McKenzie Hatch didn't go down, and Altoona also turned the ball over on an attempted entry pass.
"It just shows how close we are," Storm said. "When the going gets tough, we stick together, and we pull through."
Game notes: Lee also had eight rebounds, six of which came in the third quarter. She fouled out with 46.8 seconds left. ... Hollidaysburg was 22-for-29 at the foul line. ... Altoona returns to action tonight when the Lady Lions travel to Bishop McCort. Hollidaysburg is off until Wednesday when it hosts Derry. ... Altoona won the JV game, 42-37.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (56): McClain 4 7-8 17, Kirsch 1 1-3 3, Storm 7 9-10 23, Jennings 0 3-6 3, Scheel 4 2-2 10, Davis 0 0-0 0, Palfey 0 0-0 0, Hurliman 0 0-0 0, Haupt 0 0-0 0, Ellis 0 0-0 0. Totals - 16 22-29 56.
ALTOONA (52): Hatch 2 2-4 6, Davis 0 0-0 0, L. Donley 3 0-0 8, Darby Lee 8 4-6 20, Dibert 0 0-0 0, Caracciolo 0 0-0 0, S. Donley 3 3-4 12, Muffie 0 0-0 0, Knab 2 0-0 6. Totals - 18 9-14 52.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Hollidaysburg22 12 7 15 - 56
Altoona9 10 17 16 - 52
3-point goals: Hollidaysburg 2 (McClain 2); Altoona 7 (Knab 2, L. Donley 2, S. Donley 3).
Records: Hollidaysburg (14-1); Altoona (7-8).
Officials: Tona Williams, Enoch Ferencz, Dave Pray.
JV: Altoona, 42-37. High scorers-Alexis Stitt, H, 9; Darcy Lee, A, 9.