Lady Blue Devils close with big win over non-conference Bald Eagle Area

Not even the weather cooperated. The Bellwood-Antis and Bald Eagle Area girls weren’t going to any playoffs. The first try to get this season-ending game in was postponed by the weather. There had been few wins between the two of them over the course of the 2006-07 season. Bald Eagle Area, playing in the MAC Section II had won four of 23 games coming in to their own Senior Recognition Night at Wingate on Thursday. Bellwood-Antis with practically no experience and a new coach won only one of their first eight ballgames, playing in the Juniata Valley League. Now they were playing out the string, finishing a season that had the Lady Blue Devils at 7-16 before the BEA contest.
The difference was huge however. The Lady Eagles relied on seniors for much of their game. Bellwood-Antis starts a junior and two sophomores every game. Bellwood-Antis provided first year coach Ali Stodart, the returning players and the fans in the crowd something to think about for the future with a solid 41-31 victory.
Saying this, in no way takes away the contributions of the B-A seniors. Shalee Hunter, arguably the Lady Blue Devils most complete player, despite having played basketball for just three years, pulled down a dozen rebounds to lead the B-A girls in that category, and scored seven points. Chelsea Young gave the Lady Blue Devils a big push by burying a trey that moved Bellwood-Antis in front 8-5 in the first quarter. Brittany Webb came up with several steals and rebounds, and put the Lady Blue Devils in front again at the beginning of the third quarter with a bucket, after Sam Weaver had sent the Bald Eagle Area girls into the locker room at halftime tied 18-18 on a buzzer-beating three-pointer. That basket by Webb started a third quarter run in which the Lady Blue Devils took over the game, outscoring BEA 11-2 to take a 29-20 lead going into the final eight minutes.
“That three that she (Young) knocked down was very significant, going into the locker room 18-18, and coming back from an injury in the second half showed some real heart and determination. A tribute is due to all the seniors,” said Coach Stodart. “They worked hard the whole year. I told them at the beginning of the season and just told them again in the locker room that ‘they are the start of the rebuilding.’ We are going to build on the success we had this year and the improvements we made. We know that we have a lot of work to do before next year, but I have a group of underclassmen that I think, are willing to do that.”
Both Webb and Young were knocked down hard during the game, but both returned later.
After both teams began slowly, B-A sophomore Liz Erickson, who had another in a long series of monster performances with 17 points, 13 rebounds, eight blocks and four steals, put the first two baskets on the B-A side of the scoreboard, although the Bald Eagle girls kept coming back to tie the game at 5-5 and twice took over the lead in the second quarter.
“She doesn’t know how good she can be,” commented Stodart about Erickson, a 5-10 sophomore after another huge effort. “Liz is still not as good as she is going to get. If she is willing to work, the sky’s the limit.”
First, BEA scored the final four points of the first quarter and first four of the second stanza to jump out in front 13-10. Second, Weaver tied the score at halftime with her trey.
In both cases, the B-A girls refused to fall by the wayside. First, Erickson hit one of two from the charity stripe and then a basket, and Amanda Ingram buried a trey to replace the BEA lead with a 16-13 Bellwood-Antis margin. Second, Webb and the rest of the Lady Blue Devils made the third quarter their own special space, to take a nine-point lead. Hunter followed the three-pointer with one free throw and then rebounded her own miss and put in back in the hoop. After the lone BEA score of the quarter, Hunter added another basket, junior Victoria Lombardo delivered a steal and drove the length of the court for a layup, before Erickson capped the quarter with a basket.
“I think it was nice for us to send the seniors out with a win,” Lombardo commented after the game.
Brittany Doran opened the fourth quarter with a score for Bald Eagle Area, but a Hunter basket and Ingram’s second trey of the game, along with a bucket by Lombardo gave the Lady Blue Devils their largest lead of the game, 36-24. Bald Eagle Area’s Whitney Griedrec pumped in two baskets in a late attempt to close the score, but Erickson countered those with two baskets of her own to maintain the 10-point advantage.
“It feels nice to end our season with a win,” said sophomore point guard Ashley Lechner, who along with Erickson were the only returning starters as freshmen on last year’s Lady Blue Devils.
“Our goal was to come out early and do what we have been good at all year. In the first half, after not playing for the last couple days, we kind of came out a little bit sluggish,” said Stodart. “Definitely in the second half, we came out with a little bit more fire, and desire to win.”
Junior Varsity
Bald Eagle Area won the junior varsity game 44-29, although the Lady Blue Devil JayVees, behind Amanda Ingram, who finished with 11 points and Jenna Nevling, who scored seven points, outscored BEA 15-12 in the fourth quarter.
Megan Granite led the Bald Eagle Area junior varsity with 12 points.
Bellwood-Antis 41 Bald Eagle Area 31
Bellwood-Antis – Ingram 3 0-0 8, Webb 1 0-0 2, Young 1 0-0 3, Lombardo 2 0-0 4, Lechner 0 0-0 0, Lender 0 0-0 0, Hunter 3 1-2 7, Erickson 7 3-5 17. TOTALS 17 4-7 41.
Bald Eagle Area – Simpson 1 0-0 2, Weaver 3 0-2 7, Hoover 0 0-0 0, Kristofits 0 0-0 0, Mann 2 0-1 4, D. Reese 1 2-2 4, N. Reese 0 0-0 0, Masters 0 0-0 0, Granite 0 0-0 0, Doran 1 5-6 7, Griedrec 3 1-3 7.
Bellwood-Antis 10 8 11 12 – 41
Bald Eagle Area 9 9 2 11 – 31
Three-point goals: Bellwood-Antis 3 (Ingram 2, Young)
Bald Eagle Area 1 (Weaver)