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Lady Lions hold senior night before cruising to victory

01/12/21 Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski Altoona's Brooklyn Barron pressures Central Dauphin East's Takayla Sinkler.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the entire world, and high school athletic events are a microcosm of that world.

With the area’s scholastic winter sports schedule on a day-by-day basis due to the ever-looming threat of another COVID outbreak, teams are making changes to their itinerary.

Accordingly, the Altoona Area High School girls basketball team tipped off its season by celebrating senior night on Tuesday. It’s an event that is usually held on the final home playing date of the season, but this season is so different.

Altoona responded in late-season form, too, building a 22-0 lead out of the starting blocks and rolling to a 56-11 win over Central Dauphin East in a Mid-Penn Conference matchup at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse.

Altoona honored seniors Adalynn Cherry, Adaliz Corbin, Brooklynn Rupert, Tessa O’Keefe, Laney DeGennaro and Mallory Cree in a pregame ceremony with their parents, and the Lady Lions more than lived up to all the hype with the quick start.

“We’ve been telling our players since we started practice that there’s never any guarantee of having another game,” Altoona coach Chris Fleegle said. “Our seniors are a good, hard-working group, and we wanted to make sure that we honored them in style, and as quickly as possible.”

Cherry, a talented guard, scored seven of her game-high 16 points in the first quarter as Altoona ran away early. She had a driving bucket, a 3-point field goal, and a layup off a steal to help Altoona bolt in front, 12-0.

“It was a little different,” Cherry said of having senior night on the first game of the season. “But we were fired up tonight after the pregame ceremony, and we got out to a quick start.”

En route to building the 22-0 cushion, Altoona also got two inside buckets and a free throw from Corbin, a pair of field goals from both sophomore guard Brooklyn Barron and junior forward Kaylee Smith, and a field goal from O’Keefe.

“We had two priorities tonight,” Fleegle said. “I wanted to see the players look good in the warmup before the game, and I wanted us to get out to a quick start. We did both tonight.”

CD East — which opened its season with a non-league loss at Reading Monday — is in a rebuilding mode, according to its head coach, Courtney Wanner.

“We’re a young team that was playing back-to-back games away from home two nights in a row, which can be tough,” Wanner said. “Altoona played a very good game.”

The Lady Lions led, 38-4 at halftime and 49-6 after three quarters. All 13 players on the Altoona roster got substantial game time, and 11 of them got into the scoring column.

“Our upperclassmen played well, and a freshman (guard Jaiden Krull) scored the last bucket of the game for us,” Fleegle said. “It was a good overall team effort.”

Game notes: With Corbin grabbing a game-high six rebounds, Altoona fashioned a 27-18 advantage on the boards … Senior forward Janaya Ritter led CD East scorers with 5 points … CD East made 5 of 17 floor shots for 29 percent, while Altoona converted 23 of 49 for nearly 47 percent … Altoona hosts Carlisle in a Mid-Penn Conference game Friday night, while CD East visits State College in another conference game Friday.

CENTRAL DAUPHIN EAST (11): Jackson 2 0-2 4, Sinkler 1 0-0 2, Penigar 0 0-0 0, Ritter 2 1-3 5, Fields 0 0-0 0, Wertz 0 0-0 0, Townsend 0 0-0 0, Lago 0 0-0 0, Smith 0 0-2 0. Totals – 5 1-3 11.

ALTOONA (56): O’Keefe 2 0-0 5, Rupert 1 1-3 3, Corbin 3 1-2 7, Cherry 5 5-7 16, Cree 1 0-0 2, Smith 4 0-1 8, DeGennaro 1 0-0 3, McGirk 1 0-0 2, Barron 2 0-0 4, Lane 0 0-0 0, Gibson 1 0-0 2, Burchfield 1 0-0 2, Krull 1 0-0 2. Totals – 23 7-11 53.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Central Dauphin East 2 2 2 5 — 11

Altoona 22 16 11 7– 56

3-point field goals: Altoona 3 (O’Keefe, Cherry, DeGennaro)

JV: No game.

Officials: Ray Wotkowski, Randy Burket, Keith Redfoot.

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