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Free throws too much to overcome for Bellefonte girls


By Kenny Varner


BELLEFONTE – Foul shots proved to be the deciding factor Friday night when the Bellefonte girls basketball team went up against District 6 foe Central at the Red Raiders’ gym.

Getting to the foul line a total of 24 times, the Dragons made the most of the charity stripe opportunities by hitting all but seven. Bellefonte also missed seven free throws but only got to the line 13 times in the contest.

The game went into the final quarter with Bellefonte trailing by 12 points. Despite a late Red Raider rally at the lead, the Dragons were able to hold on and best the home team, 45-32.

“We had it there at the end. We had it close at the end. We had an inbounds pass to Lea (McCartney). The ball just didn’t go down. It went halfway down and it just didn’t fall for her,” Bellefonte coach Adam Gearhart said. “ I think if that shot goes down it is a whole different game. Lea got it and got a good shot and it 2/3 to 3/4s of the way down and all of the sudden it just popped out off the rim. That’s not Lea’s fault. But the girls fought the whole game. They played well offensively and defensively we just couldn’t get the shots to go down.”

Leading scorer in the contest, Central’s Mikaela McGraw made the most of her opportunities, going a near perfect 10-of-11 from the line en route to a game high 17-point effort. For good measures, McGraw also posted a triple.

Teammate Marissa Snyder followed McGraw’s effort with a 9-point night, good enough to be the Dragons second leading scorer on the night.

Bellefonte’s Alexandra Steen kept her team in the contest for much of the game, finishing with a 12-point tally, including two from beyond 3-point range.

Jessica Book finished with a 7-point effort for Bellefonte.

“It was similar to the first game. McGraw is a good driver and we couldn’t stop her. We wanted to stop the drive so we switched to a 2-3 zone to try to stop it but she still found a way to keep going,” Gearhart said.

Going into the final stanza, Bellefonte got the game to within 10 when Mara Tamminga went right at the heart of the Central defense and was fouled in the process. She hit 2-for-2 at the line, making it 34-24.

On the following possession, the Dragons took the lead back up to 13 when sharp shooting Snyder stepped back from beyond the 3-point line and sunk the basketball, upping the lead to 6:15.

However, the Red Raiders weren’t going to go away that easy. Less than a minute later, Bellefonte got those three points back thanks to Steen who blasted a triple of her own, giving the Red Raiders back the momentum.

After forcing the Dragons to a miscue on the following possession, Bellefonte got the ball up court and got it to Book underneath. As she was going up for the shot, she was fouled and went directly to the line. After hitting one-of-two, the Red Raiders cut the Central lead to under 10 at 37-28.

Unfortunately for Bellefonte, Central got another chance to get back to the charity stripe and for like most of the game, they came up with a perfect 2-for-2 attempt. McGraw went to the line and made both shots, upping the lead to 11 at the 5-minute mark.

The Red Raiders narrowed the lead to single digits one last time before the Central defense took over.

On a fast break attempt with 4:20 left, McCartney went into the lane at made a crucial two points, cutting the lead to 39-30.

From there the Central offense did just enough to pull out the 13-point victory, outscoring the Red Raiders 6-2 down the stretch for the victory.

In the opening period, both teams put on a defensive show when Central allowed only four points and Bellefonte managed to keep McGraw and company in check with only a 7-point first period effort.

In the second quarter, the game remained a close one as the Dragons pulled to a 19-14 lead thanks to a 12-10 second quarter scoring effort.

Things started to get away from the Red Raiders in the third quarter when Central got its biggest offensive output of the night, banging out 15 while holding the Bellefonte offense to eight.

Bellefonte will be back in action Monday when it goes down the road to Cocolamus to do battle with the East Juniata Tigers.

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