Lady Lions advance to PIAAs
Altoona overcomes Erie High, Eaddy
SLIPPERY ROCK — Altoona surrendered 18 first-half points to Erie High star Jamiya Eaddy, but an unfazed group of Lady Lions stuck to their game plan.
When the final buzzer sounded, the more complete team came away with the victory and a spot in the PIAA Class 6A playoffs.
Altoona defeated Erie High, 56-46, in the District 6 6A consolation game in Morrow Fieldhouse, at Slippery Rock University.
“She’s by far the best player that we’ve seen in the last couple of years,” Altoona coach Miriam Colledge said of Eaddy. “Defensively, we tried to stop her, but she just was getting whatever she wanted. We knew that we had to withstand the barrage.”
Eaddy finished with a game-high 26 points, but the Royals’ offense stalled in the second half. Altoona limited transition attempts in the final two quarters and gained control of the tempo and the game.
“We knew that the pace would change in the second half, and that’s kind of what happened,” Colledge said. “We weathered the storm.”
Playoff games are often determined by stretches, and this contest was no different. The Lady Lions closed the second quarter on an 11-1 run.
Eaddy cut an early deficit to one with a spinning drive and finish in the lane, but the Lady Lions made sure that Erie never had a chance to take the lead.
Olivia Hudson buried a clutch 3-point shot and showed off her passing ability with an impressive drive and kick to Bridgid Fox. Hudson, Fox, Caranda Perea and Jessica Stevens all netted 3-pointers in the first half.
“When you nail a 3, that’s a momentum changer,” Colledge said. “That opened up things for us. Our kids did a great job of hitting the 3-ball today.”
Fox finished with three triples, but she may have been most effective inside the arc. The junior forward cleaned up several misses, and sank five free throws on her way to a team-high 24 points.
The Royals had no answer for Fox. Her ability to dominate inside, paired with a legitimate 3-point shot, was simply too much.
After leading Altoona with 19 points in the District 6 Class 6A title loss to State College last week, Fox delivered again on the big stage. But Colledge said she expected nothing less from the junior.
“She’s been ‘Miss Consistent’ all year,” Colledge said of Fox. “She never wavers. Every game she steps up, and she’s there to play hard, tough and finish.”
Erie coach John Bowen said his team was simply out-matched.
“Their size difference was tremendous, and they killed us on the boards,” Bowen said. “They’re a well-coached team. They ran their stuff, and we just don’t have the numbers to compete with a team like that.”
Roshay Benjamin provided the only real assistance to Eaddy and finished with 12 points for the Royals.
The Lady Lions managed only five points in the first quarter of the District 6 title game. They tallied 19 in the first frame against Erie.
“I think we came out confident today,” Colledge said.
Fox buried a 3-pointer to get the Lady Lions on the board. Shaina Lear scored in the post to give Altoona a 9-2 advantage and forced an Erie timeout.
Perea went down with an apparent ankle injury in the third quarter. However, the sophomore returned to the game and knocked down a smooth 3-pointer early in the fourth.
Colledge said that she does not expect Perea, who tallied 14 points for the Lady Lions, to miss any time. Only six players saw action for Altoona.
The Lady Lions will have time to rest up before returning to playoff action on Friday against Mount Lebanon, the third seed from District 7.
Altoona has beaten Mount Lebanon twice this season, 64-31 on Dec. 9 at North Allegheny High School and 44-36 on Feb. 8 at the Altoona Fieldhouse.
ALTOONA (56): Lear 2 1-2 5, Stevens 1 0-1 3, Hudson 4 1-5 10, Perea 4 3-5 14, Fox 8 5-8 24, Burke 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 10-21 56.
ERIE (46): Benjamin 3 4-4 12, Gore 1 0-0 2, Eaddy 10 5-6 26, Hopkins 0 0-0 0, Harmon 1 1-4 3, Henderson 1 0-0 3, Tate 0 0-0 0, Snyder 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 6-10 46.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Altoona 19 17 14 6 — 56
Erie 15 10 11 10 — 46
3-point goals: Altoona 8 (Fox 3, Perea 3, Hudson, Stevens); Erie 4 (Benjamin 2, Eaddy, Harmon)
Records: Altoona (20-4); Erie (18-2).