Mifflin County falls to Altoona
Huskies to play Lions in home playoff game
ALTOONA — Mifflin County and Altoona entered Saturday’s game one-two, respectively, in the District 6 Class 6A rankings. The two teams were close enough that the outcome would decide which one finished first.
Altoona broke open a close game late in the third quarter and held on for a 53-49 win to secure a spot in the district championship game.
The consolation prize for Mifflin County is a district semifinal game against State College, which the Huskies will have to beat for a third time before thinking about a rematch with Altoona in the finals.
This marks the second straight year Mifflin County will host State College in the District 6 Class 6A playoffs.
“We played hard, but everything we got we really had to fight for. I’m proud of that, but the bottom line is we didn’t get a win. Our kids feel like we could do that. For us right now, it’s making sure we have another opportunity to play this team,” Mifflin County coach Roger Herto said.
Mifflin County defeated the Little Lions twice in the regular season. The Huskies won by four points at State College before winning by 11 at home.
“That means nothing,” Herto said. “Either way, we hope to go through two teams we played already. That’s just how it is being a big school in District 6.”
Eleana Eckley led Mifflin County with a game-high 19 points while Rylie Rittenhouse added 15 points.
With her performance, Eckley surpassed Ashleigh Williams as the all-time leading scorer in program history.
“It was a playoff caliber basketball game. Tight the whole way. They fought us tooth and nail to the very end,” Altoona coach Miriam Colledge said. “You can’t discount anyone on their team. The two freshmen (Molly Wagoner and Emma Yeager) are nice players for them. Eckley’s really hard to stop. We try to plan for her, but no matter what you do, she just gets her points. Rittenhouse played very well for them.”
Olivia Hudson scored a team-high 17 points for Altoona, and Bridgid Fox had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Jess Stevens scored in double digits as well with 11 points.
“We played smart, but the difference in the game was (Hudson). Their game revolves around her. As a coach you’re a fool if you don’t make it revolve around her,” Herto said. “I told her going through the line after the game that she’s a difference maker. She’s athletic, but not just that. She has good judgment. She’s a good, solid player.”
Altoona for the most part held a slim lead up up until the middle of the third quarter. At that point, Fox scored on a driving layup to give Altoona a 33-30 lead, but Rittenhouse made 1-of-2 foul shots and scored on a driving layup of her own to tie the game.
Wagoner then blocked a Hudson shot on the defensive end, starting a fast break that ended with an Eckley 3-point play.
Altoona promptly called timeout to slow the Lady Huskies momentum and make a key change.
“We moved some people around and went to our two post players more,” Colledge said. “That started to open the game up for us. Switching up what we were doing was the momentum-changer for us.”
After honoring six Mifflin County seniors before the game, Altoona paid tribute to its three seniors — Jess Stevens, Kayley Burke and Shaina Lear. All three made big plays during the decisive 15-1 run.
Following the timeout, Lear made a nice pass out of the high post to Fox for an easy lay in, and Hudson swished a 3-pointer, Stevens closed out the third quarter with a layup following a Fox miss on the fast break.
Burke’s layup off another assist from Lear out of the high post to open the fourth quarter continued the run. After Fox scored again down low, Stevens drained a long-pointer for a 10-point lead with 5:44 left.
Rittenhouse scored back-to-back buckets to make it a 50-43 game, and Eckley added three late buckets to set the final score.
“We’ll be better the next time. It’s the first time we’ve seen them. We’ll have a slightly different approach. We found out a couple things about some of their other players I didn’t know as much about.”
The game marked the first time the team has had a healthy lineup in about a week or so, Herto said.
“I was really worried about our health coming into this game. We haven’t had our full team on the floor due to the flu. We had some players who missed the last couple games. We played hard for the most part, but there were several plays where you have to make your own breaks. We just didn’t get any,” he said.
Altoona won the JV game, 50-35. Hanna Rittenhouse scored a team-high 11 points for Mifflin County.
Mifflin County ends the regular season with a 17-5 record.
Altoona 53, Mifflin County 49
Eleana Eckley 8 3-3 19, Hannah Aumiller 1 3-4 5, Rylie Rittenhouse 6 2-5 15, Molly Wagoner 3 0-0 6, Emma Yeager 2 0-0 4. 20 8-12 49.
3-point goals: Rittenhouse
Did not score: Jamie Mahigel, Megan Harshbarger.
Lear 3 0-0 7, Stevens 3 3-5 11, Hudson 7 1-2 17, Burke 2 0-0 4, Fox 5 4-6 14. Totals: 20 8-13 53.
3-point goals: Lear, Stevens 2, Hudson 2.
Did not score: Wilson.
Score by quarters
Mifflin County 15-11-10-13 — 49
Altoona 17-10-13-13 — 53