It would be hard to top the hot streak Kyla Irwin has been on lately.
She certainly put on an impressive showing for one of her future college coaches who was in town Wednesday night.
The State College senior matched her career high, and the team’s single-game scoring record, with 43 points, just missing a triple-double, as the Lady Little Lion basketball team dominated Hollidaysburg in the second half for a 76-23 victory. The point total was a season-high for State College.
Irwin also had 14 rebounds and nine steals in the final home game of her high school career, with Connecticut assistant coach Marissa Moseley watching from the bleachers. Irwin said there was no change in her game with the Huskies’ coach in town.
“I wasn’t going to not play my same way,” said Irwin, who has scored 152 points in her last four games — an average of 38 points per game — and has 1,948 points for her career. She also scored 43 points against Harrisburg on Jan. 29, matching Katie Glusko’s record set in 2002.
The Lady Little Lions (18-3) also are flying with their eighth straight win.
“Things are just clicking in with the whole team,” Irwin said. “It’s good timing. We’re starting to get to the most important part of the season. The girls are just really working hard.”
Kayla Hawbaker added 19 points and Abby Allen netted eight points. Casey Witter picked up six assists and five steals.
Steals were a big story for State College. The team collected 20 of them out of 24 Hollidaysburg turnovers, turning plenty of them into fast break points.
It contributed to State College scoring 44 of the game’s final 48 points. After a 3-pointer by Annie Ruggles with 2:26 left in the first half, the Golden Tigers would net just two field goals the rest of the game.
“That’s crazy,” Hawbaker said. “We just really stepped it up in the second half, kept our hands up, which is the main thing, and getting deflections and turning them into steals.”
And for all those steals that did materialize, it seemed like they had just as many deflections that didn’t result in turnovers, mostly blocked by State College legs and feet.
“It was like soccer, wasn’t it?” coach Bethany Irwin joked.
Irwin’s team used the combination of that tight defense and superior size to control the game, combining Hawbaker’s 3-point shooting and quickness with Kyla Irwin’s 6-foot-2 frame in the paint.
“Hollidaysburg’s really low on height right now, so we knew post play was going to be there for Kyla,” Bethany Irwin said. “The girls fed the ball really well to her. You know, drop step and there it goes.”
The Golden Tigers (8-12) were led by six points apiece from Ruggles and Makenzie Wilkinson.
The night was special for a number of reasons. It was Think Pink Night for State College, with the culmination of a number of fundraisers allowing the team to present an oversized check to the Foundation of Mount Nittany Breast Health Fund a check for $7,408.25.
It was also the final game in the North Gym for Kyla Irwin and fellow seniors Witter, Allen, Jess Orndorff and Allison Williams.
“I’m just really proud of the senior class,” Bethany Irwin said. “They worked really hard for this game.”
The team closes its season Saturday at Williamsport before heading into the District 6 tournament, likely as the No. 1 seed.
“Just for the senior class and how much work we’ve put in,” said Hawbaker, a junior. “Coming into the season, not knowing how we would finish, but it’s been an unbelievable journey and I’ve just loved it the whole time.”