B-A advances to face Bishop McCort again

03/18/17 By Gary M. Baranec Our Lady of the Sacred Heart's Madelyn Maddie Hoff attempts to block Bellwood's Karson Swogger Saturday at Forest Hills High School.

SIDMAN — The Bellwood-Antis Lady Blue Devils will face the Bishop McCort Lady Crushers Monday night in what shapes up as an epic PIAA Class 2A semifinal girls state basketball playoff game.

Bellwood made sure that its road to the blockbuster showdown with McCort was as smooth as possible. While improving to 25-4, the Lady Devils rolled to a 32-18 halftime lead and coasted to a 62-34 quarterfinal victory over Our Lady of Sacred Heart from the WPIAL on Saturday night at the new Forest Hills Area High School gymnasium.

The site and time for Monday’s Bellwood-McCort matchup will be announced today, but if it’s anything like the previous meeting between the two teams — when McCort squeaked out a 63-60 victory in the District 6 Class 2A championship game on March 4 at Saint Francis University’s DeGol Arena — it should be a dandy.

McCort advanced to the semifinal with a 46-42 quarterfinal victory over Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic Saturday afternoon.

“As far as McCort is concerned, there are no secrets,” Bellwood-Antis coach Jim Swaney said of the 24-4 Lady Crushers, who also edged Bellwood, 62-55, in the season-opening Jaffa Shrine Tournament in December. “We know them, and they know us.

“We respect their players, we know how good they are, but we think we’re pretty good, too,” Swaney said. “Let’s throw the ball up, and the winner goes to Hershey (for the state championship game).”

Senior guard Karson Swogger, who scored 20 points in Saturday’s game, including three field goals in the second quarter that helped Bellwood build a 25-12 lead, said that the Lady Devils will be ready for the challenge that McCort presents.

“We had them beaten for three quarters of the (district championship) game,” Swogger said. “We just needed to finish. I don’t think they’ve seen our best game yet. Seeing them get the District 6 gold medal definitely makes us more hungry (for the rematch).”

Bellwood had things pretty much its own way on Saturday after the first quarter against a young Sacred Heart team that starts three sophomores and a freshman.

With freshman guard/forward Alli Campbell scoring a game-high 21 points and senior forward Sophie Damiano grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds, Bellwood broke out to a 47-25 lead after three quarters after leading only 14-10 through the first eight minutes.

“We knew what we had to get done, and I think we set the tone pretty well,” Damiano said.

Bellwood made only 19 of 54 floor shots, but Swaney was impressed with the way his team played defensively in limiting Sacred Heart to three quarters with 10 points or less.

“I’m not so sure it was our best game — we’d like to have shot better — but we kept after them,” Swaney said.

“Defensively, the whole team was awesome,” added Swaney, who threw out particular kudos to Swogger, sophomore guard Riley D’Angelo and freshman guard Emilie Leidig for their defensive efforts. “I’m proud of our kids. Sophie Damiano did great work on the glass with 15 rebounds.”

Our Lady of Sacred Heart made it to the state quarterfinals last year, losing to McCort in that round. The Lady Chargers, however, graduated nine seniors from that team.

“This was a good learning experience for our players,” said Sacred Heart coach Don Eckerle, whose team finished a 20-7 season while getting 11 points from sophomore center Kennede Mickel. “We have a good feeling about our team going forward. Bellwood is a terrific team. They move the ball extremely well, and their guards are terrific shooters. They played an outstanding game.”

Another outstanding game will be required to survive the Bellwood-Bishop McCort showdown on Monday.

“We’re excited about the challenge of playing them again, especially because of the District 6 final,” Damiano said. “We know it won’t be easy.”

Game notes: Mickle had nine rebounds for Sacred Heart, while Campbell grabbed seven rebounds for Bellwood … Sacred Heart converted only 14 of 47 floor shots.

OUR LADY OF SACRED HEART (34): Hamilton 1 1-4 3, Nagy 1 0-0 2, Norling 3 2-2 8, Hoff 3 1-2 7, Mickle 5 0-0 11, Penn 1 0-0 3, Valenty 0 0-0 0, Kirby 0 0-0 0, Deken 0 0-0 0. Totals — 14 4-8 34.

BELLWOOD-ANTIS (62): Swogger 5 8-11 20, D’Angelo 1 3-3 5, Campbell 6 7-7 21, Carles 3 0-3 6, Damiano 0 0-0 0, E. Leidig 2 0-0 6, Hollen 1 0-0 2, Engle 1 0-0 2, A. Leidig 0 0-0 0, Shuke 0 0-0 0. Totals — 19 18-24 62.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Our Lady of Sacred Heart 10 8 7 9 — 34

Bellwood-Antis 14 18 15 15 — 62

3-point goals: Our Lady of Sacred Heart 2 (Mickle, Penn); Bellwood-Antis 6 (Swogger, Campbell, E. Leidig).

Records: Our Lady of Sacred Heart (20-7); Bellwood-Antis (25-4).

Officials: Joe Bilka, Ted Oppegard, Sara Fye.

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