Bald Eagle Area’s postseason isn’t finished yet, but the Lady Eagles’ district championship hopes are.
Four days after advancing to the District 6 Class AA girls’ basketball semifinals for the first time in school history, Bald Eagle Area couldn’t get by a speedy, opportunistic Blairsville squad.
Bald Eagle Area lost to Blairsville 53-33 at Hollidaysburg High School on Wednesday. The top-seeded Lady Eagles will play in Friday’s consolation game against No. 3 Westmont Hilltop with a PIAA tournament berth on the line.
The Lady Eagles hung with Blairsville, despite shooting just 9-for-22 in the first half and headed into the locker room at halftime trailing by just four points.
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But the Lady Bobcats (23-1) would build on their 26-22 lead as soon as the second half got started.
“When you get to the final four in the district, I told them, ‘You can’t have a bad quarter,’” BEA coach Troy Butterworth said.
BEA missed its first seven shots to start the third. In that span, the Lady Eagles turned the ball over six times to help Blairsville on a 16-0 run. By the time BEA scored its first points of the half — Kaitlyn Miller put back her own rebound with 2:12 remaining in the quarter — the Bobcats led 42-24.
Meanwhile, MacKenzie Livingston drew foul after foul and shot 5-for-5 from the free-throw line in the period. She added a short jump shot while Nicole Boyer, Laurel O’Barto and Chelsey Koren combined for eight points in the frame for Blairsville. Courtney Kanyan provided secondary scoring with a jumper of her own and a three-point play when she was fouled on a layup try.
On the other side, the Lady Eagles couldn’t get any secondary scoring help even as the game wound down.
Marissa Ward finished with a game-best 15 points while Lexi Josefik added 12. The only other BEA player to get on the board was Miller who finished with six points.
“We came out and missed three basically point-blank baskets,” Butterworth said of his team’s third quarter start. “They’ve got to keep their heads up. We missed three and then their defense, I think they fed off of it.”
The Lady Eagles tried to close the gap as the fourth period stretched on. But as their shots continued to lip out of the hoop or ring harmlessly off the rim, their Blairsville counterparts were nailing freebies at the other end.
Livingston and Kanyan combined to go 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth to keep the game out of reach.
As the final seconds ticked away, a rowdy Blairsville student section jeered the Lady Eagles with chants of “Overrated!”
Butterworth is hoping to use it as motivation before the Lady Eagles attempt to qualify for states on Friday.
“I told them, I said, ‘You’ve got to prove it now. Everybody says you’re overrated, shouldn’t be the No. 1 seed,’” Butterworth said. “‘Now you’ve got to prove it. If you don’t want your high school season to be over, especially the six seniors, you’ve got to win the next one.”