BC endures tough night

Bishop Carroll Catholic had a high school girls basketball season that would satisfy almost anyone else, and there were a lot of outstanding performances to celebrate.

Tueday night’s was not one of them.

The District 6 Class 1A champion Lady Huskies were unable to solve Juniata Valley’s outstanding defense or match its energy and precision in a rematch with the D6 runner-up Lady Hornets at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse, resulting in their campaign-closing 46-33 reversal in the PIAA semifinals.

“They played great defense. We just didn’t execute tonight,” said BC all-state junior guard Alyssa Martinazzi, the smeared makeup on her face a stark reminder of the emotion of the loss despite her now composed, reflective demeanor.

“We all picked a bad day to have a bad game.”

After matching Valley pretty much bucket for bucket in the first quarter, Carroll was on the wrong side of a 7-0 run in the early moments of the second following Martinazzi’s turn-around jumper in the post to start the period. The Lady Huskies were trying to play catch-up from there on out, a difficult proposition against a Lady Hornet team that handles the ball very well.

Carroll almost climbed out of the hole, pulling to within four — 36-32 — on Jourdan Williams’ corner 3 off a Martinazzi feed at the 2:05 mark of the third quarter. However, BC only scored one point the rest of the way.

The Lady Huskies had scored 58 points or more in six of their previous nine games. On this night, though, they were 12-for-40 from the field. In the second half, they managed to put in just 3-of-16 shots from the floor while committing seven of their 11 turnovers.

“The whole season, we were playing as one. Tonight, we weren’t all on the same page, and it really cost us,” junior guard Adie Divido said after the Lady Huskies closed a 23-6 year. “They are a really good defensive team. They came to play tonight, and they showed that on the court.”

Even when it struggles shooting, Carroll usually can overcome it by creating points from its defense or its rebounding. Valley, though, turned the ball over just five times and outrebounded BC by six.

“They just beat us in every aspect of the game,” Lady Husky coach Bob Gongloff said. “They beat us on the offensive boards. They beat us on the defensive boards. They beat us to every loose ball. They wanted the game more than we did, and the scoreboard showed it.”

Dogged by athletic Taylor Leidy all game, Martinazzi was held 10 points beneath her scoring average with seven points. Williams, a starter the last two years who missed most of this one with a knee injury, picked up a lot of the slack, though, coming off the bench to fire in a team-high 11.

“I was just taking it at them,” Williams said. “To get back out there and play with (the Lady Huskies) at least one more time was really nice. I just wish we could have gone further.”

The Lady Huskies, though, were stressing how pleased they were with how far they had gotten. Carroll was the reigning 6-1A champ entering the year and coming off a PIAA quarterfinal run, but, after Williams’ injury and the transfer of another player, Gongloff wound up with four new starters around Martinazzi.

“Obviously, it’s a horrible feeling (for the season to end this way). It’s depressing, and I’m really disappointed,” Divido said, “but just getting this far is an accomplishment in itself. We all worked so hard this season.”

Expectations should be high for another strong run next year, however. Gongloff will welcome back all five starters and three of his top five reserves. Williams and Faith Blake were the only seniors on this squad.

“They got themselves here. I was just sort of a vocal (presence). They just need to put in work over the summer,” Williams said.

The Lady Huskies might become the favorite in the Laurel Highlands Conference in 2017-18, with Guilfoyle graduating four starters and Forest Hills’ Courtney Cecere and Bishop McCort’s Haley Thomas both heading off to college.

Tuesday’s result might have left the Lady Huskies hungry the same way the result of the district final a couple of weeks ago motivated Juniata Valley.

“We can’t come into next season thinking we’re going to get back and do the same thing,” Martinazzi said. “It’s all going to be determined by how hard we want it and how hard we work in the offseason.”

Gongloff felt his players would shake off the disappointment of falling in the PIAA final four soon and gain perspective. As he broke into a smile, it felt like he was channeling the quote often misattributed to Winston Churchill: “Success isn’t final. Failure isn’t final. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

“Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose,” Gongloff said. “This time, you lose.”