Bishop Carroll survives McCort
JOHNSTOWN — A young and pesky Bishop McCort team drew within 21-20 of Bishop Carroll midway through the second quarter in Friday’s Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference girls title game.
Instead of wilting under the pressure, a more battle-tested Bishop Carroll squad hunkered down on defense to spark a 12-0 run. That surge before halftime gave the Lady Huskies separation they needed despite not playing at its optimum level throughout the night.
Bishop Carroll held on, 62-55, to earn its first LHAC title since 2003 and extend its winning streak to 15 games.
“It’s really exciting. We were here sophomore year and we lost,” said Bishop Carroll senior guard Alyssa Martinazzi, recounting a 47-36 loss to McCort two years ago. “We knew what it felt like to lose and we didn’t want that feeling again. We just worked for it. I’m happy we won.”
Martinazzi finished with a game-high 22 points, tallying six points each in the first, second and fourth frames. Seniors Adie Divido and Emily Kutskel added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Bishop McCort, riding a seven-game winning streak heading in, also had three players end up in double figures. Sophomore Mikayla Martin led the way with 17 points. Juniors Sierra Widmar and Madison Rozich netted 12 and 11 points, respectively.
It was an uncharacteristic performance for Bishop Carroll, which finished with 16 turnovers and just a 9-for-22 clip from the charity stripe. But other elements of its collective game rose to the occasion for the Huskies to finish 16-0 in one of the best conferences in the region.
“We found a way to win. We didn’t play a good game,” Bishop Carroll coach Bob Gongloff said. “That was probably one of our worst games, not to take anything away from McCort. They played a heck of a game. We just didn’t play our game today for some reason. A win’s a win, we’ll take the W.”
All of BC’s points came from beyond the arc in the first quarter. The Section 1 champs went 5-7 from 3-point land and 0-5 on two-point field goals. Martinazzi and Kate Yahner each knocked down a pair of treys to give the Huskies a 15-11 lead after one.
Widmar provided back-to-back buckets to pull within 21-20. However, Kutskel helped start the run with bucket and then a block that led to an Anna Haigh basket. Divido and Martinazzi each produced two buckets to cap the 12-0 surge to go up 33-20.
“We had a little meltdown in the second quarter. Then I think we had four steals and we didn’t get a shot on four steals. I’m pretty sure that was the turning point,” Bishop McCort coach John Hahn said. “I think we had them on the ropes right there, but they’re a good team.”
Bishop Carroll, who shot 55 percent for the game, relied on its trusted defense to eventually lead 33-24 at halftime.
“That was key, they got in the passing lanes like they were supposed to. They got easy buckets off of that,” Gongloff said. “That was a key point in the game.”
Having five starters back from last year’s District 6 championship team that advanced to the Class 1A semifinals helped the Huskies respond when needed.
“We just got the momentum going. Our coach told us after the first quarter that we got to stay poised, stay calm and play our game,” Martinazzi said. “That’s what we did. We missed a few easy shots here and there, but we stayed calm and we worked together.”
Carroll’s lead grew to 14 points as McCort was held without a made field goal for the first 5:35 of the third.
“Even when they came over, they didn’t even want to look at the score,” Hahn described his team’s psyche starting a quarter 0-10. “I said we have to get a stop and get a score. We need to get a shot off every time down the floor.”
McCort took a 12-11 edge as BC led 44-36 after three.
Carroll started the game just 2-12 from the foul line to leave the door open for the Crimson Crushers.
“We work on free throws every day, but our missed free throws almost cost us this game tonight,” Gongloff said. “The girls got to get mentally prepared to shoot those free throws. There’s no excuse for that.”
McCort eventually cut the deficit down to 60-55 with 19 seconds left, but Divido made both foul shots to seal it.
Bishop Carroll earned the top seed in the District 6 Class 1A playoffs and will await the winner of No. 4 Portage or No. 5 Harmony in the semifinals on Monday Feb. 26.
Bishop McCort is the No. 2 seed in Class 2A. The Crimson Crushers will host No. 7 seed Claysburg-Kimmel on Wednesday.
BISHOP MCCORT (55): Martin 6 3-4 17, Widmar 6 0-2 12, Hunt 1 4-4 6, Wilson 2 2-3 6, Rozich 4 0-0 11, Selfridge 0 0-0 0, Svencer 1 0-0 2, McClurkin 0 1-2 1. Totals — 20 10-15 55.
BISHOP CARROLL (62): Borlie 0 2-4 2, Martinazzi 10 0-1 22, Divido 5 2-2 12, Haigh 3 1-5 8, Kutskel 3 4-8 10, K. Yahner 2 0-2 6, Rosenberger 0 0-0 0, McConnell 0 0-0 0, M. Yahner 1 0-0 2. Totals — 24 9-22 62.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop McCort 11 13 12 19 — 55
Bishop Carroll 15 18 11 18 — 62
3-point field goals: Bishop McCort 5 (Rozich 3, Martin 2); Bishop Carroll 5 (Martinazzi 2, K. Yahner 2, Haigh).
Records: Bishop McCort (17-6); Bishop Carroll (21-1).
Officials: Sue Kovensky, Vicki Markiewicz, Terri Piatak.