Key injury doesn’t derail Altoona entry
HOLLIDAYSBURG — About seven minutes before the Altoona girls summer basketball team Beard Legal Group took the court for its Blair Regional YMCA championship game against Hollidaysburg’s entry McLanahan Corporation, Brooklyn Barron made her way into the gym on crutches.
Barron, who is about to begin her senior year, was expected to be a top player in the Mid-Penn Conference this season but suffered a knee injury this summer. She recently had surgery and is expected to be out until at least February.
Her teammates got to see her for the first time since her surgery Thursday night and stopped warm-ups to greet and hug Barron.
“When that happened, we decided it was next person up,” Altoona coach Chris Fleegle said. “This whole summer, with kids on vacation and kids at AAU, it was whoever showed up, we were going to play our best basketball. When Brooklyn went down, the girls decided to do that. To have her here supporting us and being part of our family, I think it was uplifting for the girls.”
Beard Legal Group made Barron, who sat on the bench cheering for her squad, proud in a 37-27 High School Division championship win.
Melana Eyer led Altoona with 11 points after she and some teammates cut a vacation short to make it back for the title game.
“It was a very nice lift,” Fleegle said. “They let me know they may come home yesterday. I had a conversation with the kids that they should enjoy their vacation, but I told them they would play if they came. It was good to have her and Harley (McGirk) back for size purposes.”
Eyer’s 3-pointer with 11 minutes to play put Beard Legal Group ahead, 29-20, but McLanahan held Altoona to just one field goal the rest of the game.
“We’ve got a lot of guts,” Hollidaysburg coach Deanna Jubeck said. “We’re going to leave everything we have on the court. We played really well this summer against the alumni teams who gave us a challenge and also against the high school division.”
Sydney Lear stole a pass, one of 20 turnovers Hollidaysburg forced, and made a layup, and Hannah DiPangrazio hit two free throws with 3:20 left to cut the lead to five. Abbie Herncane made two free throws for Altoona, but Lear responded with a 3-pointer with 46.7 seconds left that made it 31-27.
But Lear’s shot accounted for McLanahan’s final points of the game.
“We’ve always hung our hats on defense,” Jubeck said. “Today, we just couldn’t find the bottom of the net.”
Altoona, which lost just one game at the YMCA this summer and went undefeated against high school competition, made all six of its free throws in the final 38 seconds and went 12-for-14 in the game.
“That is excellent to see,” Fleegle said. “Taylor (Lane) stepped up and made her free throws. Abbie made two free throws, and then Lanie (Wilt) made free throws. That was important. When we were last in the gym together in a meaningful game, we got a little tight at that time of the game. It was a good ending to the summer, and it will be a good start for when we get back in the gym in September.”
Alison Hatajik finished with a game-high 13 points and five rebounds for McLanahan Corporation.
“We saw some things we liked, and we saw some things we’ve got to work on,” Jubeck said. “Come November, we’re going to be a different team.”
HOLLIDAYSBURG (27): Hatajik 3 6-7 13, Stitt 1 0-0 2, Vent 1 1-4 3, Stevenson 0 0-0 0, Lear 3 0-0 7, Steiner 0 0-0 0, DiPangrazio 0 2-2 2, Heim 0 0-0 0. Totals — 8 9-14 27.
ALTOONA (37): Lane 0 4-4 4, McGirk 0 0-0 0, Krull 2 3-4 7, Wilt 2 3-4 9, Eyer 5 0-0 11, Herncane 1 2-2 4, Hollobaugh 0 0-0 0, Nguyen-Moore 1 0-0 2. Totals — 11 12-14 37.
SCORE BY HALVES
Hollidaysburg 14 13 — 27
Altoona 20 17 — 37
3-point goals: Hollidaysburg 2 (Lear, Hatajik); Altoona 3 (Wilt 2, Eyer).
Officials: Bill Pfeffer, Craig Andros, Vicki Markiewicz.