Bet on this: There will be better nights for first-year Bellwood-Antis coach Nick Lovrich than last night’s season opener against Tyrone.
The 30-year old coach who has instructed everything from basketball to track and field to football in six years at his alma mater is too good for there not to be.
But it may be a while before the Lady Eagles play any better than they did in their 77-40 win over the Lady Blue Devils at the Bellwood-Antis High School gymnasium.
Tyrone shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, placed three players in double figure scoring and forced 21 turnovers in racing to its second-consecutive season-opening win over the Lady Blue Devils.
“That first half may be as good as we can play,” said Swaney, whose teams are now 4-0 in their last four season tip-offs. “We did very well in both phases of the game. We scored and controlled the tempo on that end of the floor and we defended very well. We changed defenses a few times and I think that may have confused them a little.”
But while Tyrone played as well as it had since the first round of last season’s District 6-AAA playoffs, the Lady Blue Devils were playing at a disadvantage, with two starters, Katie Gardner and Rachael Meredith, declared ineligible in the week preceding the game.
“It’s tough,” said Lovrich of playing without two key contributors from a year ago. “But because we didn’t have a couple of players, that’s no excuse. Tyrone was the better team tonight. They did all of the little things. They boxed out and hustled to lose balls – they were unbelievable. Their big guns did everything they were built up to do.”
They did that and more. Senior Joanna Turner, lauded by Swaney in the preseason as the premier post player in Blair County, scored a game-high 22 points, pulled down 11 rebounds, and still had time to occasionally help the Lady Eagles break Bellwood-Antis’ full-court pressure by bringing the ball up the floor.
Classmate Marie DelBaggio scored 10 points and ripped nine boards, Amber DelBaggio scored nine points and dished out seven assists and Lauren Haag scored nine points on three three-point baskets.
In all, Tyrone received 36 points from its guards, an area that concerned Swaney before the season began.
“I’ve said all along that if we get consistent guard play, we will be tough for a lot of teams to defend,” Swaney said.
Hilary McNelis, in her first varsity start, scored 15 points and grabbed 14 boards and the Tyrone bench, another preseason question mark, combined for 12 points, led by freshman Emily McKenna’s four.
The Lady Eagles started the game as well as Swaney could have hoped for, outscoring B-A 11-3 and holding the Lady Devils without a field goal through the first five minutes. Turner scored seven in the first quarter, Marie DelBaggio had eight, and Lauren Haag nailed a pair of treys as the Lady Eagles went ahead 24-7 after one.
The onslaught continued in the second quarter. Turner looked confident and comfortable in the low post, scoring six of the Lady Eagles’ first eight points of the period to extend the lead to 32-13. Tyrone then ran off 12 unanswered midway through the quarter to take a 46-15 lead into the locker room.
The Lady Blue Devils showed signs of improvement after the half, outscoring Tyrone 6-2 in the first two minutes of the third quarter while fighting for rebounds and diving to save lose balls. Junior Ashley Edevane, who led the Lady Devils with 16 points, scored eight in the frame but B-A still trailed 55-30 heading into the fourth quarter.
Tyrone ended the game with a pair of 7-0 runs over the last eight minutes.
“We’re still in the beginning phases of doing some new things,” said Lovrich. “We need time to gel. Tonight was a character builder. We got behind early but we played hard the whole game. We still scrapped and played with pride. For a lot of our girls, this was there first time playing varsity basketball.”
HOOP NOTES: All of Amber DelBaggio’s seven assists came in the first half ….B-A sophomore Stephanie Hatch blocked three shots in the first quarter…. Tyrone had four players score their first varsity points….Tyrone has beaten B-A three straight times dating back to January of 2000 ….while the Lady Eagles started four seniors and played five, the Lady Devils have just two seniors on their roster…. Bellwood-Antis travels to Mount Union Tuesday while Tyrone hosts Hollidaysburg Wednesday.
The Bellwood-Antis junior varsity team topped Tyrone 34-21 in the preliminary game led by Lauren Carter’s game-high 11 points. Teammate Lindsay Claar added 10 as eight Lady Devils checked into the scoring column.
Emily Ingle fronted Tyrone with six points and Heather Stanton scored five. Ashley Roth had nine rebounds.
TYRONE: M. DelBaggio 2 0-0 10; Turner 10 2-3 22; A. DelBaggio 4 1-2 9; Haag 3 0-0 9; McNelis 7 1-1 15; McKenna 1 1-2 4;
Bryan 1 0-0 2; Wallace 1 0-0 2; M. Hoover 1 0-0 2; Stanton 0 2-2 2. TOTALS: 30 7-10 77
3-POINT GOALS: Haag (3), M. DelBaggio (2), McKenna (1)
BELLWOOD-ANTIS: Worthing 3 0-0 6; Edevane 6 2-2 16; Hatch 2 3-4 7; Smith 3 0-0 6; Erickson 1 0-0 3; Ridgeway 1 0-0 2.
TOTALS: 16 5-9 40
3-POINT GOALS: Edevane (2), Erickson (1)
Score by quarters
TYRONE 24 22 9 22 – 77
BELLWOOD 7 8 15 10 – 40
TYRONE: McKenna 0 0-0 0; Wallace 0 0-0 0; Stanton 2 0-0 5; Hoover 1 1-2 3; Lloyd 1 0-0 2; Ingle 2 2-2 6; Lewis 0 0-2 0; Russell
0 0-2 0; Roth 1 1-1 3; Hoover 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 7 4-9 18
BELLWOOD-ANTIS: Erickson 1 0-2 2; Ridgeway 1 0-0 2; Swanson 0 2-2 2; Claar 4 2-3 10; Ralston 1 0-0 2; Sinisi 0 1-2 1; Carter 4
3-6 11; Smith 1 2-2 4. TOTALS: 13 10-19 34