Lady Blue Devils capture first state crown
Sophomore Campbell scores 34 in thrilling win
HERSHEY — Bellwood-Antis’ starting five displayed no signs of fatigue as they hugged family members, took turns hoisting the PIAA Class 2A championship trophy and screamed at the top of their lungs.
Perhaps it was the adrenaline from the school’s first girls basketball state title, but more likely, it was the result of an incredible work ethic that made the Lady Blue Devils into champions.
“This is what you dream of growing up,” Bellwood-Antis sophomore Alli Campbell said. “This is the goal we set every offseason. This is the ultimate goal. We work hard for this every single day in practice, in the summer, the fall and the winter. It’s great to accomplish this with this group of girls.”
Campbell scored a game-high 34 points and led Bellwood-Antis to a 45-42 victory over District 12 champion West Catholic in the 2A final Monday at Hershey’s Giant Center.
“We were missing some shots, and Alli had the hot hand,” Bellwood-Antis coach Jim Swaney said. “Our kids were also geared to setting as many screens for her as possible to get her open, and the second half especially, she was much more aggressive with her shot.”
Campbell’s 3-pointer on a pass from Riley D’Angelo with 2:19 to play gave B-A a 40-39 lead that the Lady Blue Devils never relinquished.
Campbell, D’Angelo, Sakeria Haralson, Tina Hollen and Emilie Leidig played all 32 minutes for Bellwood.
Swaney has credited the Lady Blue Devils’ offseason workout program as building up their stamina for situations like Monday.
“This means everything,” Haralson said. “All the hard work we put in during the season, the summer, it all paid off.”
Bellwood-Antis led by as many as nine early in the second quarter, but West Catholic closed within three by going on a 10-4 run over the last 6:44 of the half.
The teams traded the lead back and forth in the third quarter before Campbell made a 3-pointer to make it 34-32 B-A in the final minute.
Destiney McPhaul’s layup with 3:15 to play gave West Catholic its final lead. McPhaul, who along with Tamiah Robinson led the Lady Burrs with 12 points each, scored the basket off an offensive rebound.
Haralson had her hands on the ball from behind McPhaul’s back but relented, because she had four fouls.
“I was a little nervous, because I knew my team was depending on me,” Haralson said. “I couldn’t get that fifth foul. It’s bad to not be aggressive, but I’d rather stay in the game than get fouled out, especially with that much time left.”
Haralson lost that battle, but her restraint kept her on the floor. After Campbell gave Bellwood-Antis the lead, Haralson altered Kyliah Singletary’s layup and came down with the defensive rebound.
Campbell made two free throws seconds later to extend the lead to three with less than two minutes to play.
“We talk a lot about that with her,” Swaney said. “Sometimes she’s got to learn to live another day. Sakeria has done a great job with that as the year has gone on. She’s learning to pick her spots on when to be aggressive and when not to be.”
Haralson finished with just four points but had a game-high 14 rebounds.
The Lady Blue Devils overcame 16 turnovers by getting back on defense and contesting fast-break opportunities.
“When they turned the ball over, we didn’t capitalize on it,” West Catholic coach Beulah Osueke said. “We also didn’t capitalize off their fatigue. They only played five players. We don’t have a very deep rotation, but we have a deeper rotation than them.”
Down by three, West Catholic’s lone senior Jaelyn Durrett missed a 3-pointer, and McPhaul missed one of her own after an offensive rebound in the final minute.
“We knew they were going to sit in the lane,” Osueke said. “They had been doing a pretty good job of it throughout the second half, especially with (Haralson) in foul trouble. We got two good shots off, but they just didn’t fall. Our field-goal percentage was pretty bad this game. The opportunities were there, we just couldn’t complete them.”
West Catholic got one more chance when Campbell missed the front end of a one-and-one from the foul line, but McPhaul missed a layup with 30 seconds left and Hollen pulled in the rebound.
“This is more than I could ever ask for,” said Hollen, the only senior on Bellwood’s roster. “Every basketball player dreams of having this medal around their neck. We did it. We made school history. It’s the best feeling in the world.”
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (45): D’Angelo 1 0-0 3, Leidig 1 1-4 4, Campbell 10 10-11 34, Haralson 2 0-0 4, Hollen 0 0-0 0. Totals — 14 11-15 45
WEST CATHOLIC (42): Robinson 5 0-0 12, McIntyre 1 0-0 3, Hosendorf 1 0-0 2, Durrett 1 0-0 2, Singletary 3 1-2 7, McPhaul 5 1-3 12, Edney 2 0-0 4, Montgomery 0 0-0 0. Totals — 18 2-5 42.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bellwood-Antis 12 8 14 11 — 45
West Catholic 7 10 15 10 — 42
3-point goals: Bellwood-Antis 6 (Campbell 4, Leidig, D’Angelo); West Catholic 4 (Robinson 2, McIntyre, McPhaul)
Records: Bellwood-Antis (28-3); West Catholic (16-13)
Officials: Bridget Borelli, Keith Genicola, George W. Malanosky.