Lady Lions doing the little things in their 2-0 start
While opening their season with two Mid-Penn Conference victories by a combined total of 79 points, it’s been abundantly clear that the Altoona Area High School girls basketball team has answered the bottom line on the scoresheet.
But what is even more encouraging to second-year Lady Lions coach Chris Fleegle is the team’s positive emphasis on the intangibles — items like hustle, spirit and a willingness to go the extra mile in practice.
Fleegle expounded on that Friday night at the Altoona Fieldhouse, after the Lady Lions romped to a 50-16 victory over Carlisle.
Altoona kicked off its season with a 56-11 rout of Central Dauphin East on Tuesday night, then put together what Fleegle called one of the most encouraging practices that he’s seen from the program in his coaching tenure at Altoona on Wednesday.
“These girls are competing, and that’s one thing that we as coaches really love about them,” Fleegle said. “After winning Tuesday’s game by a big score, our Wednesday practice was one of the best that we’ve had since our coaching staff took over the program.
“The kids are just working so hard,” Fleegle added.
Standout senior guard Adalynn Cherry, who scored a game-high 21 points in her three quarters of play Friday, backed up Fleegle’s assessment.
“We worked hard at practice this week, and we were ready to play again tonight,” Cherry said. “We have that next-game mentality.”
Leading 14-8 midway through the second quarter, Altoona took command with a nine-point run en route to building a 25-11 halftime lead.
Cherry started the surge with a steal and a layup, and sophomore super sub guard Brooklyn Barron — who scored nine points off the bench — followed with another layup in transition. Cherry hit a 3-pointer from the left side and came up with another steal and layup, to give Altoona a 23-8 bulge.
The Lady Lions put the game on ice by dominating the third quarter, 19-0, to carry a 44-11 lead into the final period.
Cherry started the quarter with a 3-point field goal from the right corner, then hit two free throws. Sophomore guard Taylor Lane — who scored eight third-quarter points — hit a 3-point shot from the right corner, and, after senior guard Brooklyn Rupert hit one of two free throws, Lane followed with a putback bucket to give Altoona a 36-11 lead.
Barron’s rebound bucket made it 38-11, and Rupert drained a 3-point shot with 2:33 left in the third quarter to give Altoona a 41-11 advantage and set the mercy-rule clock into effect for the rest of the game.
With the COVID-19 pandemic hovering over every high school sports team in the nation this winter, Altoona is playing with a particularly focused type of intensity.
“Honestly, I think my team is coming out very strong,” Altoona senior forward Adaliz Corbin said of the Lady Lions’ fast start this season. “Our players are playing every game like it might be their last game of the season — that’s our mentality.”
It was the season opener for a young Carlisle team that is breaking in a new coaching staff and which has had very little time to prepare for the season.
“Half of our team is freshmen and sophomores, and we’ve had only 10 practices and no scrimmages to put together a team,” said first-year Carlisle coach Kelsey Stasyszyn. “Without a single scrimmage, there has been a lot for these players to learn going into live play.
“We did a lot of good things tonight that I was happy with, but we also did a lot of (negative) things that I expected (because of the lack of preparation opportunities),” said Stasyszyn, whose Carlisle team was led by freshman forward Noelle Cabiness’s 5 points.
Altoona fashioned a 25-13 edge in rebounds, while converting 16 of 40 floor shots (40 percent). Carlisle made 7 of 20 shots (35 percent).
Altoona swings back into action on Tuesday night with a tough conference road game against Central Dauphin. The Lady Lions visit archrival Hollidaysburg next Thursday night.
“It will be a fun challenge,” Fleegle said of the trip to Central Dauphin. “They’re a real good team, and they’ve basically got everybody returning this year. We’re going to have a mountain to compete against with them.”
CARLISLE (16): Askins 2 0-0 4, Bell 2 0-0 4, Cabiness 2 1-1 5, Kellam 0 0-2 0, Poole 1 0-0 3, Barnhart 0 0-0 C0, Abu-Aideh 0 0-0 0, White 0 0-0 0, Grippin 0 0-0 0. Totals — 7 1-3 16.
ALTOONA (50): Cherry 7 4-4 21, Rupert 1 1-2 4, Corbin 0 2-2 2, Lane 3 0-0 8, Smith 0 0-0 0, Barron 3 3-4 9, Gibson 0 0-0 0, Cree 0 0-0 0, Burchfield 0 0-0 0, Krull 1 0-0 2, O’Keefe 1 0-0 3, DeGennaro 0 1-2 1, McGirk 0 0-0 0. Totals – 16 11-14 50.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Carlisle 8 3 0 5–16
Altoona 14 11 19 6–50
3-point field goals: Carlisle 1 (Poole); Altoona 7 (Cherry 3, Lane 2, Rupert, O’Keefe).
JV: No game.
Records: Carlisle (0-1 overall and in the Mid-Penn Conference); Altoona (2-0 overall and in the conference).
Officials: Clark Adelman, Randy Burket, Denny Detwiler.