Ana Hollen has hit some big shots for the Bellwood-Antis girls basketball team, none bigger than Friday evening in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA state playoffs.
Trailing McGuffey 53-48 with 1:58 left in the game, the junior point guard drained a pair of 3-pointers and assisted on Karson Swogger's game-winning layup to lead Bellwood past McGuffey 56-55 in the opening game of a tripleheader at the AAHS Fieldhouse.
It's the team's first state playoff win since 2002.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Karson Swogger (right), who hit the go-ahead bucket, gets a hug from teammate Sophia Damiano after the game.
"If there's a better point guard in Central Pennsylvania, somebody's going to have to point her out to me because I haven't seen one. She's a winner. I'm glad she plays for us," Bellwood coach Jim Swaney said. "All of our kids are gamers. When the game's there to be won that's when we're at our best. We've played like that all year."
Hollen's back-to-back 3-pointers gave Bellwood a 54-53 lead at the 1:04 mark, but the sixth place team out of District 7 quickly reclaimed the lead on a Sam Chadwick layup 20 seconds later.
On Bellwood's ensuing possession, Swogger misfired on a 3-pointer, but Kelly Leamer grabbed the rebound and was fouled on the subsequent shot. The junior guard missed both free throws, however.
"We missed 12 foul shots. We normally shoot 68 percent from the free throw line," Swaney said. "Who knows what happens sometimes. They're kids, but they play hard all the time. I wouldn't trade them for any other team in the state."
Sammie Weiss, an all-stater a year ago and the top-scoring player in McGuffey history, had a chance to put the Lady Highlanders up three with 29 seconds left but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 for the second time in the game.
"They made a couple plays at the end, and we didn't," McGuffey coach Amanda Burchett said. "We missed a couple easy layups, had a couple calls that didn't go our way and didn't convert free throws."
Makayla Carles grabbed the Weiss miss and quickly got the ball to Hollen. Hollen pushed the ball upcourt, drove straight down the lane and found Swogger open under the basket for a layup with 17 seconds to go.
McGuffey's final two possessions ended with missed 3-pointers, the second as the final buzzer sounded.
Hollen finished with a game-high 19 points. Karson Swogger scored 15, and Bailey Swogger added 12. Hollen led the team in rebounding as well with 11, and Selena Damiano grabbed eight.
The District 6 champs advance to play Burrell, the second place team out of District 7, Tuesday at a site and time to be announced. Burrell beat Bellwood last year in the opening round of the state playoffs. McGuffey's season ends at 20-5.
Weiss led McGuffey with 16 points, eight below her 24 per game average. Chadwick added 13 points.
"I was pleased with our defense on Weiss," Swaney said. "I thought if we could hold her to 15, we'd win by 15. It didn't quite work out that way. They had a couple other girls play better than we anticipated."
Bellwood trailed 20-15 early in the second quarter before going on a 12-1 run to open up a 27-21 lead. McGuffey answered with an 8-1 spurt of its own to go up 29-28 late in the half.
Bailey Swogger's layup just before the buzzer put Bellwood ahead 30-29 at the half.
The Lady Blue Devils struggled in the third quarter, scoring just six points, and trailed 42-36 at the start of the fourth.
"Throughout the game, we were full of adrenaline. We were too pumped up and not shooting in rhythm," Hollen said. "We did a much better job of catching and shooting in the fourth quarter."
Leamer opened the fourth quarter with a 15-foot jump shot, and Karson Swogger sank her third 3-pointer of the game from the right wing. The freshman guard followed that a one-hander in the lane.
Katie Demi answered with a 3-pointer to put the Lady Highlanders back up six. Bailey Swogger's 3-point play followed by Hollen's off-balance layup pulled Bellwood to within one, 49-48, midway through the quarter
Chadwick scored on a layup then made two free throws, pushing the McGuffey back to five, 53-48, with 1:58 to go.
MCGUFFEY (55): C. Weiss 1 0-0 3, Czulewicz 1 3-4 6, Chadwick 5 3-4 13, S. Weiss 7 2-6 16, Pattison 0 1-2 1, Wagner 2 2-2 6, Demi 3 1-1 8, Crimm 1 0-0 2. Totals - 20 12-19 55.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (56): Hollen 7 3-5 19, B. Swogger 5 2-8 12, K. Swogger 6 0-0 15, Leamer 2 1-4 5, Damiano 1 0-0 2, Lynn 0 1-2 1, Carles 1 0-0 2. Totals - 22 7-19 56.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
McGuffey18 11 13 13 - 55
Bellwood-Antis15 15 6 20 - 56
3-point goals: McGuffey 3 (C. Weiss, Czulewicz, Demi); Bellwood-Antis 5 (K. Swogger 3, Hollen 2).
Records: McGuffey (20-5); Bellwood-Antis (25-2).