EBENSBURG - Alyssa McGhee's suffocating defense frustrated the Claysburg-Kimmel guards, the Lady Bulldogs' coach and their fans.
It made Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic coach Mark Moschella's day as the Lady Marauders topped Claysburg, 52-36, in the District 6 Class A girls semifinals at Central Cambria High School on Tuesday night.
"Their guards are extremely quick with the basketball, so our focus was to keep them in front of us," Moschella said. "Alyssa McGhee is a great on-the-ball defender. She really is a very quiet leader who leads by example.
Mirror photo by Patrick?Waksmunski
BG’s Macy Adams drives past Claysburg defender Paige Burk.
"I'm really proud of the effort Alyssa set forth, especially in the second half."
The Lady Bulldogs' leading scorer, Abigayle Kulick, scored 10 points in the first half but was held to just one in the second, and long-range threat Paige Burk made just one 3-pointer while finishing with five points.
"Offensively we never really got it in gear," Claysburg-Kimmel coach Jeff Appleman said. "I guess that's part our inexperience in the playoffs and part due to their aggressive defense.
"We didn't get many calls early, and we didn't get many calls late. They shot 25 free throws and we shot nine. They were the team playing aggressively on defense so that kind of posed a problem."
The Lady Marauders will take on Portage, which defeated Bishop Carroll, 61-33, in the other semifinal. The rematch of last year's championship game will take place at St. Francis' DeGol Arena on Friday at 7 p.m. Claysburg-Kimmel will play Bishop Carroll in the consolation game Thursday. All four teams will advance to the PIAA playoffs.
Claysburg-Kimmel played even with Bishop Guilfoyle through the first 6 minutes until Annie Dombrowski completed a three-point play with 1:34 to play in the first quarter. Kulick, who committed a foul on the play, sat out the rest of the quarter, and BG began a 7-0 run that put the Lady Marauders up 15-8 going into the second quarter.
A few minutes later, it was Bishop Guilfoyle's turn to deal with foul trouble. Up by six with 4:50 to play in the half, Lili Benzel picked up her second foul and took a seat on the bench for the rest of the quarter.
The Lady Marauders not only maintained their lead, they extended it. Marina Scipioni, who came in for Benzel, drilled a pair of 3-pointers and BG went ahead by as many as 17 before settling for a 15-point halftime lead.
"We talked about other girls needing to step up," Moschella said. "I thought Marina just did a fantastic job hitting some big baskets for us and also playing great half-court defense. The spark Marina gave us was one of the big keys."
Scipioni finished with 10 points, the only points from the Lady Marauders' bench.
Macy Adams led Bishop Guilfoyle with 15 points and Benzel, who scored 10 points in the second half and went 8-for-8 from the free throw line, finished with 14.
"Macy has been working real hard at practice to keep herself in an aggressive offensive position," Moschella said. "I just think she did a good job of making good decisions on taking a shot or setting someone else up."
Claysburg pulled within nine points with 5:20 to play in the game when Burk connected on her lone 3-pointer, but the Lady Marauders went on a 10-2 run that sealed the game.
"We fought hard," Appleman said. "It wasn't our best game, but we get to play on. We played as hard as BG, and I thought we out-played them in the second half. We're still looking for win No. 20, and hopefully that's going to come Thursday night."
Bishop Guilfoyle defeated Portage, 61-36, in the title game last year, but while the Lady Mustangs return many players from that team, BG is almost an entirely new squad.
"I was never in a District 6 game where the other team wasn't a good basketball team," Moschella said. "Portage has a great reputation, and we need to be focused and go out there and do the very best we can for each other."
CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (36): Kulick 3 5-6 11, Ickes 4 0-1 9, Al. Locke 1 0-0 2, Glass 2 0-0 4, Burk 2 0-0 5, Weiland 2 1-2 5, Walter 0 0-0 0, Acker 0 0-0 0. Totals - 14 6-9 36.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (52): McGhee 0 0-0 0, Dombrowski 4 3-4 11, M. Adams 4 5-9 15, Benzel 3 8-8 14, Taddei 1 0-0 2, Scipioni 2 4-4 10, Irvin 0 0-0 0, Ruggery 0 0-0 0, Spencer 0 0-0 0, E. Adams 0 0-0 0. Totals - 14 20-25 52.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Claysburg-Kimmel8 7 9 12 - 36
Bishop Guilfoyle15 15 6 16 - 52
3-point goals: Claysburg-Kimmel 2 (Ickes, Burk); Bishop Guilfoyle 4 (M. Adams 2, Scipioni 2).
Records: Claysburg-Kimmel (19-5); Bishop Guilfoyle (19-5).
Officials: Dave Pray, Enoch Ferencz, Rex Naylor.