It was a festive night inside the Bellefonte gymnasium Wednesday.
A couple dozen students, including the Red Raider cheerleaders, were dressed in their best ugly sweaters and sang Christmas carols through most of the second half.
The Lady Red Raiders seemed to be inspired.
Lauren Young and Mallorie Smith paced a big offensive outburst after halftime in a 51-36 victory over Philipsburg-Osceola.
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Young scored 10 of her game-high 16 points after the break while Smith netted 11 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter to pace Bellefonte (3-4, 3-1 Mountain League), which has won three of its last four heading into a two-week break through the holidays.
“I wish we had something,” coach Adam Gearhart said. “I’m going to have to come up with something to keep this momentum going. We have a nice little run going here.”
Abbie Carr added 10 points for the Lady Raiders.
Halle Herrington’s 15 points led the Lady Mounties (2-3), followed by 11 for Lacey Potter and eight for Loryn Hughes as the trio accounted for all but two of the team’s points.
While Smith caught fire with her scoring in the fourth, it was her defense on Herrington, who averaged 27 points over three games last week, which also made the difference. Herrington was held to eight points until just over three minutes remained, when the Lady Raider lead was up to 21 points.
“They did the game plan to a ‘T,’” Gearhart said. “Mal harassed Herrington all night, the wings were denying who they had to deny, they were (double-teaming) who they had to double. I’ve been yelling at them, I kind of know what I’m talking about as a coach sometimes. … Tonight they realized I kind of know what I’m doing.”
After holding P-O to nine first-half points, the Lady Mounties rallied on four 3-pointers from Herrington and Potter to pull within 31-21 at the end of three quarters.
Then it was time for Smith and Young to take control, scoring 18 of the team’s 20 fourth-quarter points. Smith, a freshman, was slashing to the basket and drawing fouls, making 7 of 8 from the line in the quarter.
“We put a lot on her little shoulders,” Gearhart said. “She’s not a big kid by any means, but she played big tonight.”
Young, meanwhile, was battling in the paint for put-backs.
“She is a power player,” Gearhart said. “We keep telling her she doesn’t have to score, she’s going to be the one to clean up messes. That’s her game. She’s there, she picks up the scraps, she puts them away and she’s starting to realize that.”
The Lady Mounties dealt with some inconsistencies, with some inspired stretches and some runs when it seemed a lid covered the rim.
“Whenever we’re on, we’re on,” P-O coach Alexis Bacher said. “Whenever they’re confident, it’s a good night. Whenever they’re not, it’s not a good night. They like to learn and they keep learning from their mistakes and that makes practices go a little better.”
P-O has one more game before starting the holiday break, but Bacher sees a lot of potential in her team.
Gearhart definitely likes what he’s seen from his team over the last week.
“You just don’t know where it’s coming from with us this year,” Gearhart said. “This is the type of team I’ve wanted for three years.”