Smith’s historic night keys Valley win
ALEXANDRIA — Juniata Valley High School’s star junior forward Halee Smith enjoyed one of the sweetest accomplishments of her basketball career when she reached the 1,000-point mark Wednesday night.
The fact that she pulled it off against a solid Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic team made it all the more satisfying and fulfilling for Smith.
A 3-point shot from the right side early in the fourth quarter enabled Smith to reach the milestone, and highlighted a game-high 27-point night for her that sparked the Lady Hornets to a 63-40 victory over Guilfoyle at Ed Sparr Gymnasium.
“It was completely a team effort,” Smith said of her 1,000-point accomplishment. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates, including the four who graduated last year. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen (tonight). BG is a really tough team, and I’m glad that I got it against them.”
According to Valley coach Rachelle Hopsicker, nobody is more deserving of the accomplishment than Smith.
“I’ve been coaching for 20 years, and nobody works harder than she does,” Hopsicker said of Smith. “I’ve never had a player work harder than this girl. She deserves the accolade. She has put the time in.”
Valley (2-1) led from wire-to-wire, keeping Bishop Guilfoyle at arm’s length for the first three quarters before carrying the fourth period, 22-10 to win going away.
“This was a good barometer for us,” Hopsicker said. “The kids did everything we asked of them. This was a turning point for our program.”
Valley has moved up to the Class 2A level this year after reaching the state championship game in Class 1A last season, and Bishop Guilfoyle is one of the top Class 2A teams in District 6.
“We’ll be fighting with them for awhile,” Hopsicker said. “We’re going to see them again, probably.”
Valley led, 29-22 at halftime and 37-30 after Bishop Guilfoyle sophomore guard Sophia Warner hit a pair of late third-quarter free throws.
Then Valley went on a 21-6 run through the third and fourth quarters to salt the game away. Buckets by juniors Kathryn Hopsicker and Hayden Taylor, who scored 11 points in the game, helped Valley build a 41-30 edge after three quarters.
Smith hit a pair of free throws early in the fourth quarter to make it a 43-30 game, before draining her milestone 3-pointer to give Valley a 46-30 advantage.
A putback by BG junior Jamison Consiglio temporarily stopped the bleeding for the Lady Marauders, but Valley opened a 52-32 lead on a jumper and two free throws by Taylor, and a driving bucket by sophomore Olivia Smith.
Baskets by junior Blaise Kilmartin — who came off the bench to lead BG with 15 points — and sophomore Aurielle Brunner, pulled the Lady Marauders to within 52-36, but Valley ran off the next six points on a field goal by Smith, a fast-break layup by freshman Avery Taylor, and another field goal off the break by Smith for the 58-36 cushion.
“I thought we did a nice job of pushing the intensity up on defense, and we went on a run,” first-year BG coach Kristi Kaack said of her team’s play in the third quarter. “But then we made some mistakes on the defensive end that allowed them to get points.”
Warner had 11 points for BG (1-1), and Consiglio grabbed 12 rebounds — three more than Valley leader Smith.
Smith felt that it was important for her team to keep the pedal to the floor for four quarters.
“Even though we had the lead, we had to keep playing strong,” Smith said. “BG is a good team, and we knew that they could come back at any time.”
Coach Hopsicker felt that playing tough defense in the second half was a key for Valley after the Lady Marauders had closed the first half with six straight points.
“BG had a little run in the second quarter, and at halftime, we talked about how we needed to limit their opportunities to one shot and get the rebound,” Hopsicker said. “The kids did everything we asked of them.
“The kids played a great team game,” Hopsicker said. “That’s the way that we want to play. I’m proud of this team.”
JUNIATA VALLEY (63): O. Smith 1 1-3 3, A. Taylor 4 0-0 8, H. Taylor 4 2-2 11, H. Smith 10 5-5 27, Jefferis 2 0-0 4, Hopsicker 2 0-0 4, Reed 1 0-0 3, Payne 1 0-1 3. Totals — 25 8-11 63.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (40): Brunner 2 0-0 4, Consiglio 1 0-0 2, Warner 2 5-6 11, Krug 0 0-0 0, Haigh 1 0-0 2, Kilmartin 6 3-5 15, Homan 2 0-0 4, McCulloch 0 0-0 0, Scipioni 1 0-0 2. Totals — 15 8-11 40.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Guilfoyle 10 12 8 10 — 40
Juniata Valley 13 16 12 22 — 63
3-point goals: Juniata Valley 5 (H. Taylor, H. Smith 2, Reed, Payne); Bishop Guilfoyle 2 (Warner 2).
Records: Bishop Guilfoyle (1-1); Juniata Valley (2-1).
JV: Bishop Guilfoyle, 59-12. High scorers–Aurielle Brunner and Sarah McCulloch, BG, 12 apiece; Maelyn Payne, JV, 5.
Officials: Barry Rossman, Mike Kresovich, John Mansell.