Bellefonte coach Kris Glunt has coached two different programs over six years. But he was hard-pressed to name a better defensive performance than the one he witnessed Tuesday night.
The No. 2-seed Red Raiders refused to give up easy shots and hit the boards hard in a 46-34 overtime win against No. 3-seed Hollidaysburg in the District 6 Class 5A semifinals. Bellefonte will next take on top-seed Greater Johnstown in the district championship at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Penn State-Altoona, with the winner advancing to states.
“With the exception of the third quarter, that’s one of the best defensive performances any of my teams have ever played,” Glunt said. “It was an outstanding defensive effort.”
Although the defensive stats won’t become official until later Wednesday, Glunt estimated that his trio of Caleb Rockey, Noah Badger and Ben McCartney racked up about two dozen rebounds. And Bellefonte (15-7) held Hollidaysburg sharpshooter Sam Servello to just seven points — including a contested final shot in regulation that bounced off the side of the rim from long-range.
After that miss, it all came together for Bellefonte in overtime.
Although the team sputtered early on offensively, it made it count in the extra period. Badger led the way by scoring six of his 11 points in overtime, and Nate Tice was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe in overtime. Overall, the Red Raiders outscored Hollidaysburg 15-3 in the extra period.
“The overtime was really just about moving the basketball and getting great looks,” Glunt added.
Other game highlights included Rockey leading Bellefonte with a game-high 19 points and the team going 7-of-8 from the free-throw line in overtime.
The road to the state tournament won’t get any easier next week. Greater Johnstown (18-2) is a formidable opponent — and Glunt didn’t try to pretend otherwise.
“Tonight was an outstanding performance, but I think we can play better and we need to play better,” Glunt said. “Johnstown, they only have two losses. They’re long, athletic and well-coached, so we got a tough matchup — but I just think it’s about playing the game together and coming together, trusting in one another and not overthinking the result.”
He continued: “I’m just so proud of our guys. They put in the work over the last three years for us to make it this far.”
All District 6 basketball games scheduled for Wednesday have been moved to Thursday due to the weather forecast. With the exception of Obama Academy vs. Portage Area, all Thursday games will then be moved to Friday — and all Friday games will be moved to Saturday.
The Class 4A championships will now take place Saturday at Hollidaysburg, with the girls tipping off at 1 p.m. and the boys at 2:30 p.m. Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy will also host a doubleheader Saturday, with the girls tipping off at 6 p.m. and the boys at 8 p.m. Other times for Saturday games will be released later in the week.