Leidig delivers clutch free throw to help seal win
HERSHEY — Bellwood-Antis sophomore Emilie Leidig scored just one point during the second half of Monday’s PIAA Class 2A championship game, but it certainly was a huge one.
After missing three consecutive free throws in the fourth quarter, Leidig’s fourth attempt hit nothing but the net with 21.8 seconds left to play.
The shot gave the Lady Blue Devils a two-score lead and turned out to be the game-winning point when West Catholic’s Tamiah Robinson drilled a 3-pointer in the final seconds.
“She’s a tough kid,” Bellwood-Antis coach Jim Swaney said. “Nobody would feel worse than she did if that wouldn’t have worked out that way. Nobody is going to be happier for the way the situation played out.
“Emilie is the kind of kid who is a very good defender, handles the ball well and honestly wants to score, but if she’s not doing that, she finds ways to win.”
Leidig came into the state championship contest averaging 11.9 points per game. She finished with four points Monday, including a 3-pointer that was part of a 10-0 B-A run in the first quarter.
“I knew I had to put (the free throw) in,” Leidig said. “It was now or never. This was the last game of the season either way, and I knew it had to go in. I just took a deep breath, and I put it in.”
Leidig also had a team-high three assists to go with three rebounds and two steals.
“We worked for this all season, all year,” Leidig said. “It was our dream, and it finally came true. This was our goal, and we got it.”
B-A fan buses
Bellwood-Antis athletic director John Hayes said the school sold out of their allotment of 700 tickets by Friday. B-A sent three student buses and an adult fan bus to Hershey. The announced crowd was 1,500.
Rivals look on
Juniata Valley and Bellwood-Antis are rivals in the regular season, but the Lady Hornets were in attendance Monday to support the Lady Devils, sitting underneath the basket near B-A’s bench.
The teams split a pair of regular season matchups, each winning on the other’s home floor. Bellwood won the tiebreaker in the Inter-County Conference’s North Division by point margin in the games after each team finished with one conference loss.
Juniata Valley coach Rachelle Hopsicker said many of her players play with Bellwood players on AAU teams in the offseason.
The Lady Hornets gave the Lady Blue Devils a standing ovation after the game and will play for the Class 1A state championship today at noon.
West Catholic, like Bellwood-Antis, will only lose one senior to graduation, but the teams will not have the opportunity to meet in next year’s state championship.
The Lady Burrs will be moving up to Class 3A next season while the Lady Blue Devils will remain in Class 2A.
District 5 official Sarah Fye acted as the alternate official for Monday’s four state championship games. District 6 official Tona Williams will be the alternate for today’s games and again on Wednesday.
Two District 6 crews were also given game assignments.
Chris Rickens, Clifford E. Kittner and Jason E. Moschgat will handle the Class 2A boys title game today at 2:10 p.m., and David K. Pray, Vicki S. Markiewicz and Justin E. Fraker will have the Class 4A girls game on Wednesday at noon.
Huggins in the house
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was in the Giant Center Monday to take in another Kennedy Catholic game.
Kennedy Catholic defeated Lourdes Regional, 78-36, in the Class 1A boys championship following Bellwood’s win. The score was 30-0 after one quarter.
Kennedy Catholic topped Bishop Carroll Catholic, 77-30, in the semifinals a week ago when Huggins was also in attendance, recruiting Maceo Austin and Oscar Tshiebwe.