Putting on a show for Geno

HOLLIDAYSBURG – The happiest man in the Hollidaysburg Area High School Gymnasium Wednesday night may have been Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma.

One of his verbal commitments for the 2016 recruiting class enjoyed a night to remember.

State College junior Kyla Irwin scored 25 points on 10 field goals, as the Lady Little Lions drubbed Hollidaysburg, 66-36.

“We’re really thankful he made the effort to fly in and watch her play,” State College coach and Kyla’s mother Bethany Irwin said. “He’s seen her play in AAU; he’s never seen her play with her high school team. So that was nice to see him come in.”

Kyla wasn’t nervous about the opportunity to play in front of her college coach. In fact, she was excited.

“I knew he was going to be there, so I wasn’t nervous or anything,” she said. “If I were nervous, I don’t think I should be playing there.”

Irwin committed to her dream school in October over offers from Penn State, Pittsburgh, St. Joseph’s, St. John’s, Providence, DePaul, and Michigan. She was thankful that her college coach got to see her in action with the teammates she plays with most often.

“High school is really different then AAU,” Kyla Irwin said. “It was really nice that he got to see me play with the girls I have played with more. I was just really happy that he got the chance to come out. It really meant a lot that he can be there.”

Irwin was named a second-team Class AAAA All-State selection last season and scored her 1,000th point this year.

Hollidaysburg is no stranger to sending their own players to play for Auriemma. Pam (Webber) Mitchell was a point guard for the Lady Tigers and Lady Huskies.

On the court, Irwin wasted no time making her presence felt, scoring nine of her points in the first quarter alone, including a three-point play. That gave State College an 18-8 lead after one.

The Lady Little Lions (15-7) outshot the Lady Tigers (11-5), 28-10, from the field. Eight of the State High field goals came from beyond the arc.

“They had to shoot a very high percentage,” Hollidaysburg coach Deanna Jubeck said. “Everything they shot seemed to have gone in the basket where it was opposite for us.

“When the ball is going in, it’s a lot easier of a game to play.”

State College defensively held Hollidaysburg to just three points in the second quarter as part of a 16-3 explosion. Irwin capped off the half with 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the visitors a 34-11 halftime lead.

Irwin – whose team was coming off loss to Altoona Monday – was pleased to see how her team wrapped up the regular season.

“We didn’t shoot well against Altoona, and we shot extremely well here,” she said. “It’s a great way to end the regular season, and now we’re looking for playoffs.”

In the third, Jalyn Shelton-Burleigh gave Hollidaysburg fits, scoring on a putback with 5:53 to go. She scored six of her 12 points in the third frame.

“(She) had her best game ever,” Irwin said. “She contributed the whole way across with points, assists, steals, blocks and I think she just played an outstanding game.”

The Lady Tigers did not have a scorer in double digits the entire evening. Sierra Kirsch led Hollidaysburg with nine points.

“It’s one for the books, and you close the book quickly, and you move on,” Jubeck said. “We got a big turnaround, and we play again on Friday.”

The win also put the Lady Little Lions in prime position to potentially be the No. 1 seed in the District 6 Class AAAA postseason. Irwin, though, notes that there is a lot of parity within the field.

“In our district, I don’t think there is one powerhouse team out there,” she said. “All of these teams have had those opportunities of having somebody excel, and they get that win.”

STATE COLLEGE (66): Treglia 4 0-0 8, Hurley 1 0-0 3, Adams 3 0-0 9, Irwin 10 2-3 25, Shelton-Burleigh 6 0-0 12, Orndorff 0 0-0 0, Witter 2 0-0 4, Allen 1 0-0 3, Love 0 0-0 0, Williams 1 0-0 3. Totals -28 2-3 66.

HOLLIDAYSBURG (36): Ellis 1 0-0 2, Kirsch 3 2-2 9, McClain 1 2-2 5, Scheel 2 2-3 6, Wilkinson 0 0-2 0, Haupt 1 2-2 4, Al. Stitt 1 4-4 7, Murphy 1 0-0 3, Bettwy 0 0-0 0. Totals – 10 12-15 36.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

State College18 16 18 14 – 66

Hollidaysburg8 3 12 13 -36

3-point field goals: State College 8 (Allen, Hurley, Adams 3, Irwin 3); Hollidaysburg 4 (Kirsch, McClain, Al. Stitt, Murphy).

Records: State College (15-7); Hollidaysburg (11-5).

Officials: Greg Sipes, Charles Glasser, Martin Maschak

JV: Hollidaysburg, 51-44. High scorers – Kayla Hawbaker, SC, 20; Abby Bettwy, H, 16.