Devils toss Trojans in D6 game

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Ana Hollen’s parents must not have taught her how to share, or at least they gave her permission to take the ball and not give it back on the basketball court.

Wednesday, the Bellwood-Antis junior had more steals than a pickpocket in Rome against Mount Union during the first round of the District 6 Class AA tournament, and the 72-21 final ended the Trojans’ season.

By to the numbers, the early departure at No. 5 seed Bellwood-Antis’s hands was not a surprise for No. 12 Mount Union. The Inter-County Conference champion Blue Devils and the Trojans are not strangers – and in both regular season matchups Bellwood-Antis won by at least 40 points.

“They (Bellwood-Antis) are a great team. They’re very disciplined, they pass well. All around, they are the real deal. And we knew we had to come out and play our A-game; we just didn’t,” Mount Union coach Jenny Cunningham said.

Call it the Blue Devils’ talent or a flat effort by the Trojans, but in either case Mount Union was outmatched in every regard, and this was apparent early in the game. The Blue Devils had a notable height advantage over Mount Union, and the Trojans had trouble keeping up with Bellwood-Antis’ scrappy full-court man press from the very first quarter, as two straight Mount Union turnovers to start the game were indicative of how the rest of the contest would go.

In the first quarter, Aaliyah Gilbert-Walker opened the scoring for the Trojans, but it was already four minutes into the contest after an early 8-0 run by the Blue Devils. The Trojans eventually put up three more points before the quarter was over, but it didn’t get any better in the second stanza.

Led by Hollen, Bellwood-Antis’ guards put plenty of pressure on during the press, and Mount Union had trouble getting the ball down the court. Point guard Gabby Morder’s efforts to get the ball in scoring range were frustrated time and again, and often it was Hollen who cashed in on the breakaway layups after she or a teammate came away with the steal. Hollen finished with a game-high 24 points, and 10 of those came in the second quarter after she hit 12 in the opening quarter.

Despite the frustration caused by the press, Mount Union put up its highest offensive effort in the second quarter, but the mere nine points weren’t anywhere near what the Trojans needed to keep up with the Blue Devils, and by the half, Bellwood-Antis had a 49-14 lead.

In the third, Mount Union’s only offensive success was from the charity stripe. Tynita White – who hit a team-high 12 points – went 2-for-2 while Gilbert-Walker hit 1-of-2. On the whole, Mount Union made too many turnovers on offense, while the Blue Devils made quick, crisp passes to consistently find the open man.

Although Cunningham admitted frustration with the result of Wednesday’s game, she was proud with the effort her girls put forth to reach the postseason.

“I’m proud of them for getting here. Mount Union girls basketball hasn’t been to districts in a long time, so it’s a big year for us,” Cunningham said.

Mount Union, which was the lowest seed, finished the season at 12-11. The No. 5 Blue Devils (14-2) will face No. 4 Bishop McCort on Friday.