Lady Hornets buzz past quarterfinal opponent

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Juniata Valley’s Halee Smith prepares to muscle up a shot inside while guarded by Farrell’s Kyra Crosby.

KITTANNING — The only time Halee Smith looked uncomfortable Saturday at Armstrong High School was when a television camera and several reporters surrounded her following Juniata Valley’s PIAA Class 1A quarterfinal game with Farrell.

She certainly looked fine on the court, scoring a game-high 28 points, in a game where the Lady Hornets were never challenged and won, 67-38, to advance to the 1A semifinals on Tuesday.

“It’s awesome to be going back,” said Smith as she laughed and tried to concentrate on the camera. “We want to get to the state championship and get our gold medal.”

If Juniata Valley wants another shot at the gold after coming up short in the state title game a year ago, it will have to get through a familiar opponent, Bishop Carroll Catholic.

“We know it’s going to be a dogfight to get to the finals,” Juniata Valley coach Rachelle Hopsicker said. “We’d rather play the best team. Best goes to Hershey.”

There was no doubt who the best team was in Saturday’s game. Farrell got a 3-pointer from Marissa Hopson just before the end of the first quarter to cut the Lady Steelers’ deficit to six, but it was all Lady Hornets from there.

Juniata Valley led, 30-17, at halftime despite Smith sitting out a large portion of the second quarter with two fouls.

“I think we had a really good game,” Smith said. “There’s always something to work on, something we could do better in the next game.”

The Lady Hornets carried the momentum into the second half, opening the third quarter on an 11-0 run and eventually carrying it, 23-6.

“I stress to them all the time that the first three minutes of the third quarter can decide a game,” Farrell coach Ed Turosky said. “We talked about at halftime that we needed to come out fired up and ready to go, but we came out flat. They went on a run, and that took all the wind out of our sails.”

Hopson led Farrell with 19 points but was limited in the second half.

“We thought if we went out hard on them in the second half, we could probably shut them down,” Hopsicker said. “We thought they would probably give up a little bit. We focused and took (Hopson) out of the game immediately, and that made a big difference. Stopping her on defense created our flow on offense.”

Smith seemingly scored at will in the second half, but she also got some help from her teammates. Sydney Reed finished with 13 points, and Maddie Mattas and Hayden Taylor each scored 11 points.

“It’s great feeling,” Mattas said. “We have worked all season for this. It was one of our goals. We’re excited to meet back up with Bishop Carroll.”

Point guard Taylor Leidy scored just two points but contributed a game-high nine rebounds.

“We played well,” Hopsicker said. “We adjusted really well in the second half. We are used to these kids adjusting to things, so I’d say it was a great game.

“They have put all the work in, and it’s amazing to get back and be among the final four teams. I can’t say enough about how hard the kids have worked.”

FARRELL (38): Pierce 1 0-0 2, Crosby 2 0-0 4, Hopson 6 3-4 19, Oatis 2 2-2 7, Russell 2 0-0 4, Gregory 1 0-2 2. Totals — 14 5-8 38.

JUNIATA VALLEY (67): Taylor 5 0-0 11, H. Smith 13 2-2 28, S. Reed 4 4-4 13, Leidy 1 0-0 2, Mattas 4 2-4 11, O. Smith 1 0-0 2, Jefferis 0 0-0 0, L. Reed 0 0-0 0, Hopsicker 0 0-0 0, Musser 0 0-0 0, Santiago 0 0-0 0. Totals — 28 8-10 67.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Farrell 10 7 6 15 — 38

Juniata Valley 16 14 23 14 — 67

3-point goals: Farrell 4 (Hopson 4); Juniata Valley 3 (S. Reed, Mattas, Taylor).

Records: Farrell (14-12); Juniata Valley (26-3).

Officials: Ron Koppenhaver, Ted Oppegard, Joe Bilka

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