Altoona outlasts McCort in OT

After watching her team defeat Class AAAA archrival State College, 58-49, on the road Monday night, Altoona Area High School girls basketball coach Miriam Colledge had some concerns about a letdown Wednesday night.

The opposition, Class AA power Bishop McCort, presented the stiffest of challenges, but Colledge knows it’s tough for any team to play at the same accelerated pace two games in a row.

“I didn’t want to have Monday’s game not mean anything,” Colledge said.

Her concerns ultimately proved to be unfounded, as Altoona outlasted McCort, 54-53, in overtime at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse.

After the two teams played to a 48-48 tie after four quarters, Altoona won the extra session, 6-5, to improve to 9-11 on the season. It was just the third loss in 22 outings this season for Bishop McCort, which will play Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference championship game Saturday at Richland.

“This was a great, great game, an awesome win for our girls,” Colledge said. “We knew that this would be a tough game. (Bishop McCort) is very well-coached, well-disciplined, and pesky. It was their last regular-season game, and we knew that they were going to use it as a measuring stick. It was definitely a game of will tonight.”

After McCort had overcome a 37-24 third-quarter deficit to pull even, 48-48 on senior forward Katie Wilson’s putback with 33 seconds left that forced overtime, Altoona prevailed in the extra 4-minute session.

Sophomore Amber Newberry made one of two free throws to open the overtime period, giving Altoona a 49-48 lead.

After junior Morgan Instone’s driving field goal gave McCort its final lead of the night, 50-49, Altoona took the lead for good, 51-50, when senior Amanda Menegay pulled down a big rebound and sophomore Paige Whitfield turned an outlet pass into a breakaway layup with 1:32 left.

Menegay came off the bench to grab three crucial rebounds in overtime, a fact that Colledge quickly acknowledged post-game.

“Amanda Menegay was our unsung hero tonight,” Colledge said.

Menegay picked up the slack after a few of her Altoona teammates had fouled out.

“We needed this win, and I was really excited to step up in a big game,” Menegay said.

Whitfield, who made two of two free throws with 51 seconds left in the overtime period to give Altoona a 53-50 lead, thought that it was important for Altoona to set the tone after regulation.

“We were trying to score first,” Whitfield said. “The main focus was getting ahead. It feels great to win this game.”

Junior Sarah Donley made one of two free throws with 14 seconds left to give Altoona a 54-50 lead, but McCort – which missed four straight free throws in overtime and made just 16 of 34 overall – pulled to within 54-53 on junior Tahlyn Miller’s 3-point shot from the top of the circle with three seconds left.

That’s as close as it would get, however, as sophomore Amber Newberry’s inbounds pass found Whitfield all alone near midcourt, and she dribbled out the final seconds.

Altoona enjoyed a balanced scoring effort, led by Newberry’s 13 points, Donley’s 12, and sophomore Alayna Biesecker’s 11.

The Lady Lions carried the second quarter, 17-4 to build a 23-16 halftime lead, and senior Ashley Muffie scored three straight third-quarter field goals, including a runner midway through the quarter that staked Altoona to the 37-24 advantage.

McCort ratcheted up its defensive pressure, however, scoring the final eight points of the third period to draw to within 37-32, before eventually tying the game on three different occasions in the fourth quarter to force the overtime session.

Miller led McCort with 16 points, while Instone added 14.

“Once we got the game tied, I thought the momentum would swing a little bit our way, but you have to give Altoona credit, they didn’t fold,” McCort coach John Hahn said. “This was a good high school game – one that will get us ready for the Laurel Highlands Conference championship game.”

And one that will also greatly benefit Altoona – which closes its regular season at home tonight against Mifflin County.

“This was a great, great game,” Colledge said. “We lost our composure for a time tonight, but we got it back. We did enough to scrap by and win this game.”

Game notes: Altoona outrebounded McCort, 38-26, with sophomore Madison Shetrom collecting eight … McCort converted 18 of 54 shots (33 percent), while Altoona made 16 of 34 (47 percent) … McCort’s previous losses this season were to Indiana and Forest Hills.

BISHOP MCCORT (53): Gibbons 0 0-0 0, Thomas 2 4-7 8, Miller 5 5-8 16, Instone 7 2-10 14, Wilson 2 0-2 4, McGrath 1 3-4 5, Rhine 0 0-0 0, McIntosh 0 0-0 0, Yingling 0 2-2 2, Hajjar 1 0-0 2. Totals – 18 16-34 53.

ALTOONA (54): Stouffer 0 0-0 0, Donley 3 3-4 12, Caracciolo 0 0-0 0, Dibert 2 2-2 6, Biesecker 3 5-8 11, Whitfield 2 2-5 6, Muffie 3 0-0 6, Knab 0 0-0 0, Menegay 0 0-0 0, Mahue 0 0-0 0, Shetrom 0 0-1 0, Newberry 3 6-8 13. Totals – 16 18-28 54.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Bishop McCort12 4 16 16 5 – 53

Altoona6 17 14 11 6 – 54

3-point goals: Bishop McCort 1 (Miller); Altoona 4 (Donley 3, Newberry).

Records: Bishop McCort (19-3); Altoona (9-11).

JV: Altoona, 46-14. High scorers-Sarah Brumbaugh and Lauren Woomer, A, 10 apiece.

Officials: Todd Parker, Mike Andrews, Tom Fontaine.