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Former local athletes succeed at next level

Two Huskies thriving at MAC schools

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Eleana Eckley, a former Mifflin County Husky, has found success at the collegiate level playing for Messiah. Eckley finished her sophomore season starting in all 27 games.

Eleana Eckley and Rylie Rittenhouse certainly left lasting basketball legacies at Mifflin County High School. Now the two former teammates have spent the past two college seasons tearing up the Middle Atlantic Conference circuit.

Eckley (Lewistown/Mifflin County) started all 27 games this season for Division III Messiah College, averaging 12.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 33 minutes of action. That production from the 5-7 sophomore guard propelled the 17th-ranked Falcons to a 25-4 mark overall and ended the year with 16-straight wins and a berth in the NCAA Sweet 16. Messiah racked up a 15-1 record in the league to win its fourth-straight MAC Commonwealth crown.

Rittenhouse (McVeytown/Mifflin County) mostly came off the bench for Division III DeSales University and averaged 10.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.0. The 5-9 sophomore guard did have two starts for the Bulldogs, who went 23-5 overall and finished as the MAC Freedom champions. DeSales ended the season 23-5 after falling to Smith College, 81-72, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 6. Rittenhouse came off the bench to score 13 points and grabbed eight boards in 13 minutes.

Eckley posted season highs at Alvernia University on January 25, a 72-45 win for Messiah, by scoring 27 points and draining 7-of-9 three-point attempts. She posted season-highs with eight rebounds and six assists during a 74-68 victory over Albright College on February 22.

The Falcons steamrolled their way through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. In the opening round, Eckley played 33 minutes against Keystone College and racked up 10 points, two rebounds, four assists and two steals in a 72-47 win on March 6. She scored five points in a decisive third quarter, which saw Messiah outscore Keystone, 26-3.

Photo submitted
Rylie RIttenhouse takes on a defender in DeSales matchup against Moravian. RIttenhouse has helped DeSales win the MAC Freedom title in each of her first two season.

The Falcons advanced to face Eastern Connecticut State and advanced with a 60-50 win, thanks to a 21-point effort by Eckley. She went 6-of-16 from the floor and a perfect 7-of-7 from the charity stripe to go with three rebounds, two assists and a block in 40 minutes.

Messiah was set to face Smith College on March 13 before that game was cancelled. Smith knocked Rittenhouse and DeSales out of the postseason in the tournament opener. Rittenhouse chipped in 13 points, eight rebounds and two steals in 23 minutes, but it was not enough in an 81-72 defeat.

Rittenhouse had a season-high 21 points and seven field goals in an 81-58 win over Eastern University on February 18. She had a season-best 4-of-7 shooting night from three-point land in a 74-68 win over Stevens on January 22.

Rittenhouse racked up a season-high 14 rebounds and four assists in a 104-66 victory over Gwynedd Mercy University on December 7. She also turned in five steals in a 75-46 win over Misericordia University on January 25.

Rittenhouse has earned MAC Freedom titles and NCAA Tournament berths in both of her seasons at Messiah.

Amey Shines At PSU-Harrisburg

Laurel Amey (Thompsontown/East Juniata High School) finished as the third-leading scorer for Division III Penn State-Harrisburg, averaging 11.5 points. The 5-5 junior posted double-digit scoring numbers in 16 of the Nittany Lions’ 26 games. She also averaged 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

Amey opened the season with a bang, dropping 18 points, with two three-pointers, in a 78-61 loss to Notre Dame (Md.). She followed that up by scoring double-digits in four of Penn State-Harrisburg’s next five games. She hit for 15 points in a 76-69 win over Delaware Valley on November 24 and again against Clarks Summit, a 74-69 loss on December 10.

Amey connected on four treys en route to a 14-point showing against Washington Adventist, a 72-45 loss on January 4. She posted 18 points against SUNY-Cobleskill on January 12 and 15 more against Penn College on February 1.

Amey had 16 points, hitting 7-of-16 field goals, in a 63-58 win over Keuka on February 15 and her season-best 21 points at Cazenovia, a 76-73 nail-biter on February 21.

She chipped in 11 points in a season-ending 103-64 setback to Penn State-Berks in the first round of the North Eastern Athletic Conference playoffs. She made 5-of-11 shots from the floor, including a three, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out five assists and added one block. The Nittany Lions led 21-20 after the first quarter, but were outscored 27-9 in the second quarter. Penn State-Harrisburg finished 12-14 overall and 10-6 in the NEAC.

Perhaps the biggest accolade for the Juniata County native was that she was named a team captain this past season.

Packer Off Bench For Ursinus

Jack Packer (Lewistown/Mifflin County) completed his junior season with the Ursinus Bears. The 6-2, 190-pound guard played in 11 games for Division III Ursinus, who contributed off of the bench.

Packer came off the bench to play eight minutes in the Bears’ season opener against St. Vincent, a 73-58 win on November 8. He finished with three points, making a three-pointer on his only shot. He played five minutes in an 85-76 win against Lycoming on November 9. He pulled down two rebounds.

Packer came back to drop in six points against Clarks Summit on November 16, a 92-62 victory. He hit 2 of 3 shots from the floor, grabbed two boards and dished out an assist in 13 minutes. On November 21, Packer had two points in an 80-78 win over Rosemont. He played 15 minutes and hit 1-of-2 shots from the floor, grabbed three rebounds, had a steal and added an assist.

Packer saw action in a January 11 contest, an 86-67 win over Dickinson. He did not score in two minutes and missed his only shot from the floor. He also played nine minutes and went scoreless in a 78-64 loss to Muhlenberg on January 15. He went 0-for-2 from the floor.

Against No. 15 Johns Hopkins, Packer played six minutes and missed one shot in a 92-62 loss. He did not play in the Bears’ final 10 games. Ursinus dropped its final three contests to finish 12-13 overall and 7-11 in the Centennial Conference.

Mahigel Contributes at Juniata

Jamie Mahigel (Lewistown/Mifflin County) saw action in 11 games for Division III Juniata College, averaging 1.7 points off of the bench. The Eagles struggled through a 5-20 campaign, including a 2-12 mark the Landmark Conference.

The 5-5 sophomore guard did not play in Juniata’s first five games. Her season debut came against Penn State-Schuylkill on December 2. In eight minutes, Mahigel scored two points on 1-of-2 shooting in the Eagles’ 93-44 victory. She also dished out two assists.

She followed that up with a memorable night in a 78-69 loss to Susquehanna on December 7. Mahigel notched a season-high 10 points in six minutes on 3-of-3 shooting, including a pair of three-pointers. She also pulled down one rebound.

Against Grove City, a 75-45 loss on December 21, Mahigel played eight minutes and had four points, with a three-pointer and a free throw. On January 18, in a 76-52 setback to Moravian, Mahigel had three points, with another trey, in four minutes.

In the other seven games played, she did not score. She had a rebound against Drew, a 72-55 loss on January 11, and another rebound against Scranton, a 69-57 defeat on February 15.

Hibbs Debuts at Penn State-Altoona

Alyssa Hibbs (Richfield, East Juniata High School) complete her first season at Division III Penn State-Altoona. The 5-10 freshman forward averaged 1.1 points for the Nittany Lions coming off of the bench.

After playing in Penn State’s first four games but failing to score a point, Hibbs finally found the scoreboard in game seven of her college career. In an 87-49 win over Alfred State on December 7, she finished with six points, three rebounds, a block and an assist in eight minutes of action.

Hibbs followed that up with two-point nights against Mount Aloysius on December 11, Medaille on January 4 and February 1 and Alfred State on January 20. She closed out her first college campaign with a five-point night in a 70-52 victory over Mount Aloysius on February 19. Hibbs went 2-of-4 from the floor, hit a foul shot and pulled down a rebound in eight minutes.

She did not play in the Nittany Lions’ season finale against Hilbert on February 22 or their first-round Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference loss to D’Youville. Penn State-Altoona finished its season at 12-8 in the AMCC and 14-12 overall.

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