The game between Altoona and Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic started as a blowout and ended up that way, but the team that was winning big early did not emerge victorious.
BG spotted Altoona a 13-0 lead before roaring back to claim a 63-41 win Tuesday at the AAHS Fieldhouse. Freshman Lili Benzel led the Lady Marauders comeback with 36 points. The 5-foot-8 guard seemingly could not miss, scoring inside, outside and from the free throw line.
"The freshman on this team play with a mentality that we've played 18 games, don't call us freshman anymore," Guilfoyle coach Mark Moschella said.
Mirror photo by Patrick?Waksmunski
BG’s Lili Benzel, who scored 36 points, puts up a shot as Altoona’s Darby Lee defends.
Benzel caught fire midway through the first quarter and never cooled off. She scored 12 points in the final 4:33 of the first quarter and had 20 by halftime.
She added seven more in the decisive third quarter. BG outscored Altoona 20-5 in the period, turning a 3-point halftime lead into a comfortable 18-point cushion.
Macy Adams had a big quarter as well. The freshman guard started the second half with a runner off the backboard, added a driving layup and made 4-of-5 free throws, three of which came with under a second left in the quarter when she was fouled throwing up a desperation 3 before the clock expired.
Benzel added nine more in the fourth quarter, going 5-for-5 from the free throw line along with a pair of driving layups.
Altoona managed just 12 points in the second half.
"You can't score five points in the third quarter, seven points in the fourth quarter, have someone go for 36 points and expect to win," Altoona coach Jill Helsel said. "Lili Benzel really sparked them."
Benzel's 3-pointer from the corner finally got BG on the board midway through the first quarter. She continued with a pair of layups, a floater from along the baseline and another 3 from the corner.
"Once we got a few shots to fall, it gave the whole team a lift. That's the best we've played all year," Benzel said. "It's exciting to be a part of this game. I used to look up to and admire all the girls who've played in this game."
Adams, who finished with 10 points, converted two free throws late in the quarter to give the Lady Marauders a 16-15 lead.
Sarah Donley got Altoona the lead right back with a 3-pointer to open the second quarter. BG immediately tied it back up when Benzel scored on a fastbreak started by an Alyssa McGhee steal.
The Lady Marauders took the lead for good when Adams drove through the Altoona defense for a lay in 1:10 into the period.
"The single thing I'm most proud of is the way we came back from being down 13-0 on the road against a good basketball team. The girls stayed together, stayed with the game plan and chipped away," Moschella said.
BG guarded Altoona tight on the perimeter while still managing to hold Lady Lions top-scorer Darby Lee in check down low.
"Jenna Irwin played outstanding defense in the paint. It's the game we always felt she could play," Moschella said. "It was her best game of the season."
Benzel and her teammates did look like freshman early on though as Altoona came out and dominated the first four minutes.
After Lauren Donley opened the game with a 3-pointer and Rachel Dibert scored down low, Alison Caracciolo doubled the Altoona lead with five quick points, scoring on the fastbreak and coming right back with a 3-pointer.
Lee's 3-point play moments later put the Lady Lions up 13-0.
"Credit them. They sat in the 3-2 zone, rotated well while keeping a girl on Darby and ran on us on our own floor," Helsel said.
Prior to the game, the Lady Lions presented a check for $9,329.84 that was raised for the ongoing care of Jack Grassmyer, the 20-month-old son of former Lady Lion Cassie (Thompson) Grassmyer and Jim Grassmyer who is battling lissencephaly.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (63): McGhee 2 0-0 4, Dombrowski 2 1-3 5, Adams 2 6-7 10, Benzel 13 7-8 36, Taddei 0 0-0 0, Irvin 3 0-0 6, Lewis 1 0-0 2, Scipioni 0 0-0 0, Ruggery 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals - 23 14-18 63.
ALTOONA (41): Hatch 0 0-0 0, Dibert 1 1-2 3, L. Donley 2 0-0 6, S. Donley 3 0-0 9, Darby Lee 6 1-1 13, Caracciolo 2 0-0 5, Davis 0 0-0 0, Muffie 0 0-0 0, Stouffer 0 0-0 0, Knab 0 0-0 0, Newberry 0 1-4 1, Shetrom 1 0-0 2, Whitfield 0 0-0 0, Darcy Lee 0 0-0 0. Totals - 15 5-9 41.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Guilfoyle16 16 20 11 - 63
Altoona15 14 5 7 - 41
3-point goals: Bishop Guilfoyle 3 (Benzel 3); Altoona 6 (L. Donley 2, S. Donley 3, Caracciolo).
Records: Bishop Guilfoyle (15-4); Altoona (8-10).
JV: Altoona, 44-35. High scorers-Lewis,BG, 19; Whitfield, Newberry, A, 11.