B-A gets revenge
Lady Devils avenge earlier loss to JV
ALEXANDRIA — With plenty of high stakes on the table, the talented but young Bellwood-Antis High School girls basketball team continued to come of age Monday night.
After leading for most of its game with archrival Juniata Valley before a packed crowd at Juniata Valley High School’s Ed Sparr Gymnasium, Bellwood — which starts four underclassmen, including three sophomores — fell behind midway through the fourth quarter, but closed strong, putting together a 12-3 game-ending run to post a 61-55 Inter-County Conference North Division victory.
In avenging a last-second loss to Juniata Valley earlier this season, Bellwood hiked its overall record to 18-2 and improved its ICC North mark to 11-1.
Juniata Valley also has just one loss in the section, but, based on Monday’s five-point win, Bellwood took over the driver’s seat for the section lead based on point differential should both teams win their remaining games.
Bellwood coach Jim Swaney gave plenty of credit to the Juniata Valley team, but also threw out kudos to his own players.
“Juniata Valley is a great team — there is no team that we respect more than Juniata Valley,” Swaney said. “We had the lead the whole game, and after they went ahead, we were able to get the lead back, which shows the maturity of our team, and how we’re growing.
“When you’re ahead and (your opponent) takes the lead, it can be easy to fall apart,” Swaney said. “But I was very pleased that several of our players stepped up tonight.”
One of those players was sophomore forward Alli Campbell, who scored eight of her game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Campbell felt that incentive was on the side of Bellwood, with the conference section championship and a berth in the conference title game later this month on the line.
“Of course, there was motivation,” said Campbell, who also grabbed 11 rebounds. “We want to be back in the ICC championship game, and we knew that we would have to beat them in order to get there. We were fired up and ready to go.”
Valley (17-3, 12-1) which trailed by as many as nine points in the second quarter, held a 52-49 lead when senior guard Taylor Leidy hit a field goal off a drive midway through the final period.
Junior Riley D’Angelo hit a jumper from the key to pull Bellwood to within 52-51, and a floater from the key by sophomore Emilie Leidig gave the Lady Devils a 53-52 advantage.
After Leidy hit a free throw to tie the game for Valley, 53-53, sophomore post Sakeria Haralson, who scored 12 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, got free inside and scored to give Bellwood a 55-53 advantage.
Later on in the quarter, Bellwood’s Campbell was fouled, and made both free throws with 45 seconds left to give the Lady Devils a 57-53 edge.
After Valley turned the ball over, Campbell was fouled again and made one of two free throws for a 58-53 Bellwood lead with 31 seconds left.
“We’ve been preparing for this game, and our team stuck together and kept their heads,” Haralson said. “Getting rebounds was a big key for us.”
Valley senior Maddie Mattas was fouled and made both free throws as time wound down to pull Valley to within 58-55, but Hollen made three free throws for Bellwood in the final 25 seconds to cement the victory for the Lady Devils.
“We had some key baskets that put us back on top,” Campbell said. “Our rebounding was big, and being smart with the ball and strong with the ball was a key for us.”
So was Leidig’s 17-point performance that included five 3-point field goals.
“Leidig is a shooter,” Swaney said. “She had a temperature of 104, and she hadn’t practiced since last Tuesday, so we weren’t sure what we were going to get from her tonight. But she’s a tough kid. She came in and really picked it up.”
Valley was led by Leidy’s 16 points and eight rebounds, and sophomore forward Halee Smith’s 15 points and nine rebounds.
Valley coach Rachelle Hopsicker pointed to her team’s 3-of-7 performance from the foul line in the fourth quarter and Bellwood’s ability to convert its opportunities as one of the determining factors in the game.
“It’s just like the game we had last time (a 57-56 Valley victory on Smith’s buzzer-beating field goal Jan. 12 at Bellwood),” Hopsicker said. “Both teams played as hard as they could. They ended up hitting shots at the end, and we didn’t hit our free throws. We had a couple missed front ends on 1-and-1s that hurt us a little bit.”
Bellwood has won five straight ICC North championships, and now has the inside track on another one after Monday’s victory.
“This was a great team effort,” Swaney said. “I can’t say enough about these kids.”
Game notes: Bellwood shot 22 of 57 from the floor (39 percent), while Valley converted 22 of 58 (38 percent) … Bellwood had a 40-32 edge in rebounds … Bellwood visits Moshannon Valley Thursday night, while Juniata Valley hosts West Branch the same night.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (61): Hollen 0 3-4 3, D’Angelo 3 1-1 8, Campbell 7 6-10 21, Haralson 6 0-1 12, Leidig 6 0-0 17. Totals — 22 10-16 61.
JUNIATA VALLEY (55): Leidy 6 4-5 16, Mattas 3 2-4 8, Reed 3 0-1 7, H. Smith 7 0-1 15, Taylor 3 1-2 9, O. Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 7-13 55.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bellwood-Antis 20 8 16 17 — 61
Juniata Valley 14 12 14 15 — 55
3-point goals: Bellwood-Antis 7 (Leidig 5, Campbell, D’Angelo); Juniata Valley 4 (Taylor 2, Reed, H. Smith).
Records: Bellwood-Antis (18-2, 11-1 ICC North); Juniata Valley (17-3, 12-1).
Officials: Ray Hoppel, Steve Schaaf, Dave Pray.
JV: Juniata Valley, 44-31. High scorers–Partner, BA, 13; Taylor, JV, 23.