Team effort puts B-A girls in semis
JOHNSTOWN — For anyone out there who thought the Bellwood-Antis girls basketball team would struggle without its leading scorer, Alli Campbell, on the floor would be sadly mistaken after what happened Friday at Greater Johnstown High School.
With an average of 26.3 points per game, Campbell picked up three fouls in the first quarter Friday night in the Lady Blue Devils’ PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal matchup with Chartiers-Houston.
She exited the game at the 2:04 mark of the first period with foul No. 3 and a 16-10 lead. She also missed more than two minutes of the second period, but Bellwood’s lead grew to 18 by halftime en route to a 63-48 victory and a spot in the semifinals Monday against Blairsville.
“Certainly Alli puts us over the top, but if you would take her away, which I don’t want anyone to ever do, but if our guards are Tina (Hollen), Riley (D’Angelo) and Emilie (Leidig), that is still better than what most high school teams have,” Bellwood-Antis coach Jim Swaney said about losing Campbell early.
Campbell did come out to start the second quarter but exited with 2:28 to play in the first half as her teammates, including Sakeria Haralson and Jaydyn Shuke, kept their foot on the gas pedal.
Chartiers-Houston coach Laura Montecalvo was not at all surprised that Bellwood did not miss a beat with Campbell nestled on the bench next to assistant coach Kyley Longo-McGarvey and her teammates.
“It didn’t surprise me because they have such deadly shooters,” Montecalvo said. “They have three kids on their team who have made 50 3-pointers each on the year. I thought it might help us, but I knew they had more offensive threats than just her.”
Even in foul trouble, Campbell scored 15 points in the first half, and even more importantly, Haralson totaled eight of her 14 points in the first half. Not only was Haralson helping on the offensive end of the floor, but she was guarding the Lady Bucs’ Alexa Williamson, a 6-foot-2 senior who was averaging 40 points per game in her two previous games.
“We kept telling (Sakeria) in practice that she is going to be the best player you will play against, but that also you are going to be the best player she has played against,” Swaney said. “(Sakeria) is a very talented sophomore, and she showed that. The one thing about Sakeria is she is not afraid of anybody. She rebounds and gets after things. She played a great game.”
Williamson scored 12 of her 29 points in the first half, but the Lady Bucs’ only lead was at 6-5 early in the first quarter. After that, it was all Bellwood up until the third quarter.
“We knew that we had to take care of the ball and slow down offensively, but that is hard to do when their team is making a 3-pointer and their crowd goes crazy and you have all that noise,” Montecalvo said.
Bellwood (26-3) was up 44-24 near the five-minute mark of the third quarter when the Lady Bucs (21-7) made their run. Williamson scored 10 points in the quarter, including one at the 1:24 mark to cut the lead to 12, 48-36. Madison Simpson hit a base-line jumper at the 1:00 mark to cut it 10 at 48-38. That’s how it ended going into the final quarter.
“Listen, they are a good team. They were 21-6. I told our kids that good teams make a run,” Swaney said. “The luxury was that it was still a four-possession game. We were still living off the good work in the first half. Basketball is a game of runs. We had one in the first. They had theirs in the third.”
The Lady Bucs actually cut the lead to eight, 50-42, at the 6:57 mark on another Williamson bucket. That is when Bellwood went into a more patient approach on offense, spreading the ball, passing from nearly every part of the floor to each other, sometimes without even dribbling.
“We are a very good passing team, an extremely good passing team,” said Swaney, also pointing out that this group has been playing together since their early days in elementary school so they know each other’s tendencies well.
The Lady Bucs could not get the ball back unless they intended on fouling. In the final five minutes of the game, they only had four possessions on offense because they could not get the ball back.
“Getting it under 10, we always feel like we have a chance. That’s our mantra. But, we knew they had great foul shooters, but we had no other choice at that point,” Montecalvo said.
Bellwood was 7-of-8 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. The Lady Blue Devils were 13-of-14 in the second half and 15-of-17 for the game. Campbell was 4-for-4 from the line in the fourth, while D’Angelo was 2-for-2.
“When you face an excellent shooting team like them, it’s hard to crawl back into a game,” Montecalvo said.
Campbell finished with 23 points, while Hollen had 12 points. Keaira Walker added 11 for the Lady Bucs.
“The way they were playing defense, doubling on Alli when she got the ball … and I’ve said this to a lot of people … they underestimate Tina and Riley, and if you put them on a lot of other teams, they would score 15 and 12 points instead of maybe 10 and 7. They sacrifice a lot for this team,” Swaney said. “If other teams play us like this, you do so at your own peril. Tina can make shots.”
Game notes: Bellwood-Antis eliminated the Lady Bucs last year in the state playoffs, 80-66. Williamson scored 35 in that game. … Bellwood-Antis lost to Blairsville in the district semifinals, 44-37. … Blairsville beat Reynolds Friday night, 38-13.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (63): D’Angelo 1 4-5 6, Leidig 2 3-4 8, Campbell 8 6-6 23, Haralson 7 0-0 14, Hollen 4 2-2 12, Shuke 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 15-17 63.
CHARTIERS-HOUSTON (48): Lindsey 0 0-0 0, Simpson 1 0-0 2, Walker 4 3-3 11, Vulcano 3 0-0 6, Mazutis 0 0-0 0, Williamson 14 0-0 29. Totals — 22 3-3 48.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bellwood-Antis 16 22 10 15 — 63
Chartiers-Houston 10 10 18 10 — 48
3-point goals: Bellwood-Antis 4 (Hollen 2, Campbell, Leidig), Chartiers-Houston 1 (Williamson)
Records: Bellwood-Antis (26-3), Chartiers-Houston (21-7).