HOLLIDAYSBURG - For much of the nightcap of Thursday's quadrupleheader at the Reliance Bank Gymnasium, it almost looked like neither team was too eager to punch its ticket into the Hollidaysburg YMCA Women's Summer Basketball League Alumni Division championship game.
With 16 minutes left, two-time defending division champion Mitch Grace Construction and Mama Randazzo's had combined for 35 points. Grace Construction was nursing a 19-16 lead.
Grace Construction, though, found its poise and its long-distance shooting touch at that point. Grace made more than twice as many 3-pointers the rest of the way as Randazzo's had the whole game and logged a 53-32 victory.
The result set up a rematch of last year's division final with juggernaut Kitchensales.com. Unchallenged in most of its games, Kitchensales will enter the championship game with a perfect record for the second year in a row after running over Hollidaysburg Alumni, 79-52, in the earlier Alumni semifinal.
"They're a very good team, and it will certainly be a challenge," Grace Construction forward Brittany Sedlock said of Kitchensales after she scored 16 points in her team's semi. "I'm looking forward to it. I like playing good teams. I like being challenged, pushing myself and pushing my teammates and seeing where we stand when we're playing the best."
While Sedlock did most of her damage in the paint, Jordan Speck and Shelley McCune provide the spark from the outside that allowed the defending champs to advance. McCune drained a trey just inside the 13-minute mark. After Rachelle Hopsicker answered with a two for Randazzo's, Speck and McCune made back-to-back 3s to start a 10-0 run that pushed Grace's lead from five to 15 in about 4 minutes.
Speck made three of her game-high five 3-pointers in the last 13 minutes and finished with 19 points. Grace drained five of its eight 3s in that span.
"We just started moving the ball around," said Speck, the tall sharpshooter from Southern Huntingdon High School and Juniata College. "At first, we were really stagnant. We didn't know how to handle their defense. Then we started moving the ball, and our momentum got going."
Randazzo's made just two shots behind the arc and didn't have a scorer reach double figures. Jackie Lantzy topped Randazzo's with seven points, while Lauren Wagner chipped in with six.
"I don't know what happened. I feel like we weren't used to playing on that big court, going from playing sideways," Wagner said, referring to the change in the gym setup since it didn't need to be used for two games at once. "I think we were all tired."
Kitchensales showed no adverse effects from playing on the longer floor. In fact, it seemed perfect for its up-tempo style of play, as it raced out to a 25-4 lead less than 10 minutes in and never looked back.
"It's really fun. It's like when I played at Saint Francis. We play fast, and we run transition a lot. I get the rebounds and just throw it down the court. It's pretty easy," Kitchensales Alli Williams said.
Williams scored a game-best 31, combining with Marrysa Moyer (24) and Kristi Little-Kaack (12) for 67 points. Featuring a very big lineup, Kitchensales basically ran a full-court fast-break drill much of the way, releasing Moyer or Williams for long passes after getting the rebound.
"They have a lot of good players, and they play really well as a team," Hollidaysburg's Susie Ellis said. "They have size, and they can do everything. They can shoot. They can drive. They can play defense."
Adding Williams to the lineup has made an already-strong Kitchensales lineup that much more potent this season.
"With this team, we don't only work hard on the defensive end, but on the offensive end," Moyer said. "In years past, we didn't have such a deep roster. This year, we can go deeper and still be 110 percent."
Elle Collins and Morgan Jennings fronted Hollidaysburg with 11 points each, and Courteney Storm netted 10.
Kitchensales won the regular season meeting with Grace by four, but Williams wasn't at that game.
"I think we match up well. I think we're a similar team," Speck said. "We need to be quicker. We need to get them going up and down the court, hit some shots and work it inside and out."
KITCHENSALES.COM 79, HOLLIDAYSBURG 52
HOLLIDAYSBURG ALUMNI (52): Mercer 0 0-0 0, Ellis 3 1-2 8, Storm 3 2-2 10, Gildea 2 0-0 4, Griffith 2 3-5 7, Jennings 3 3-4 11, Collins 4 0-0 11. Totals - 17 9-13 52.
KITCHENSALES.COM (79): Little-Kaack 4 3-4 12, Sh. Reimer 2 0-0 6, Moyer 11 2-3 24, Williams 10 8-8 31, Thomas 2 0-0 4, Hershey 0 0-0 0, Conrad 1 0-0 2, Ehredt 0 0-0 0. Totals - 30 13-15 79.
Halftime-Kitchensales.com, 46-24. 3-point goals: Kitchensales.com 6 (Sh. Reimer 2, Williams 3, Little-Kaack); Hollidaysburg Alumni 9 (Ellis 2, Collins 3, Jennings 2, Storm 2).
MITCH GRACE 53, MAMA RANDAZZO'S 32
MAMA RANDAZZO'S (32): Shoup 2 0-0 5, Parsons 1 0-0 2, Wagner 3 0-0 6, Fretthold 0 0-0 0, Lantzy 3 1-2 7, Hopsicker 2 0-0 4, Baker 0 3-4 3, Castiglione 1 2-4 5, Chestney 0 0-0 0, Nardozza 0 0-0 0. Totals - 12 6-10 32.
MITCH GRACE CONSTRUCTION (53): McCune 3 0-0 9, Watkins 1 0-0 2, Speck 7 0-0 19, B. Sedlock 4 8-12 16, S. Conner 3 1-1 7, K. Sedlock 0 0-0 0. Totals - 18 9-13 53.
Halftime-Mitch Grace Construction, 17-13. 3-point goals: Mama Randazzo's 2 (Shoup, Castiglione); Mitch Grace Construction 8 (Speck 5, McCune 3).
Officials: Sue Kovensky, Bill Pfeffer, Rich Gergely.