Note: This story first appeared in the Mirror on Sunday, March 12, 1989
By Michael V. Emery
Mirror Sports Staff
LORETTO — The Hollidaysburg Lady Tigers are standing tall in District 6, claiming their first Quad-A championship ever Saturday night at St. Francis College.
After beating perennial-champion Altoona in the semifinals, the Lady Tigers clawed their way past State College in the finals, 51-49, behind the efforts of 6-foot-4 center Becky Rabold.
Rabold personified the gutsy team effort Hollidaysburg utilized to claim the title. The Lady Tiger senior crashed to the floor with a sprained right ankle in the second quarter, but returned in the second half, hobbled though she was, to lead Hollidaysburg to the championship with 18 points, including the game-winning basket with just four seconds left in the game.
“Winning the school’s first-ever district championship is great for me as a coach and it’s great for the players as well,’’ said beaming Hollidaysburg Coach Joe Hurd. “This is a terrific group of girls on this team and the last thing I said to them before we took the court tonight was that they had a chance to put their names in the school record book. I don’t think they wanted to let that chance slip away.’’
“This really meant a lot to us,’’ said Hollidaysburg senior Tricia Greaser, who finished with four points and a key 10 rebounds. “We felt like we had a team capable of winning the last couple years, but this was our season. State College beat us in the playoffs two years in a row, so this win means a lot to the seniors on the team. I’m glad we finally beat them, and for the district championship makes it especially sweet.’’
Sophomore point guard Pam Webber, who played a solid all-around game with 14 points, including a vital 3-pointer in the final minutes, guiding the offense, and hounding State’s gifted point guard Jenny Kretchmar on defense, said the Lady Tigers’ confidence never waned, even when State held an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“Weíve had a really good season; we’ve played some of the best teams in the country, and we’ve had to come back before, so we believed we could do it,’’ Webber said. “We were down eight, but there was still time left.’’
Hollidaysburg played determined and with great poise, chipping away at State’s eight-point lead, before pulling even on Webber’s 3-pointer with 2:14 left.
“Pam’s 3-pointer did the job,’’ Hurd said. “Pulling even on a 3-pointer seemed to pick us up and I think I saw State College put their heads down after that shot.’’
“I wasn’t really thinking that we needed a 3-pointer because there were still a couple minutes left,’’ Webber said. “So it wasn’t a desperation 3-pointer, but that was the shot that was there, so I took it.’’
Hollidaysburg took the lead on a four-point play with 1:42 left, when Jill Colabrese canned an outside jumper and Rabold was fouled underneath while the ball was in flight. Rabold made both ends of the one-and-one to give the Lady Tigers a 48-46 lead.
State’s 6-foot-5 center Tina Henry and Hollidaysburg’s Stephanie Currier sank one free throw apiece to make the score 49-47 in Hollidaysburg’s favor with 40 seconds left.
State went to its other twin tower, 6-3 Meredith McKnight, to tie the game at 49-all with 25 seconds left.
That set up Rabold’s heroics to win it for Hollidaysburg.
Rabold and Henry have battled each other inside since ninth grade and this could go down as their most memorable battle. Henry was a force with a game-high 26 points and eight blocked shots, but as tremendous a game as she played, it was Rabold who finished with the upper hand.
With Rabold neutralizing Henry in the first quarter, Hollidaysburg jumped out to a 14-6 lead. Rabold continued her strong play into the second quarter, before twisting her ankle with 5:55 left in the half. When she limped to the locker room with assistance, Hollidaysburg held a 16-10 lead.
Without Rabold in the lineup, State tied the score at halftime, 23-all.
“When I went out on the court after Becky went down I saw right away that she was in a lot of pain,’’ Hurd said. “I knew that we were going to find out what kind of character we had on this team.’’
Krista Potter replaced Rabold and Hurd credited the sophomore for holding her own in a difficult situation.
“Krista Potter stemmed the tide for us,’’ Hurd said. “She hasn’t gotten a lot of varsity time, but she did the job when we needed her tonight.’’
“Everybody on the court knew we had to pick our game up when Becky went out,’’ Webber said. “It’s really tough to lose Becky against State College, because they have two very big centers. Krista Potter did a good job, but I was still really glad to see Becky come back.’’
Rabold never returned from the locker room until the second half was under way and checked back into the game with 6:20 left in the third quarter and the game tied at 25.
“Our trainer, Sue Barkman, gets the co-MVP Award,’’ Hurd said. “At halftime I asked her how long Becky would be out, thinking in terms of weeks and days, and she said she’d be back in the second half.’’
“I was going back in, there was no doubt in my mind,’’ Rabold said. “When the other girls came in the locker room at halftime I was getting my ankle taped. They weren’t sure if I was going back in or not, but I told them I wasn’t going to let them down. This is our season and I wanted this to be my game.’’
Rabold made it her game and Hollidaysburg’s season with 14 second-half points and, just as importantly, for her inspirational return to the game.
“When Becky went back in, the spirits of everybody on our team seemed to rise,’’ Hurd said.
Still, State had the game tied at 49 with the clock winding down under 20 seconds. With 12 seconds left Rabold took an off-balance baseline jumper that missed. Hollidaysburg’s Joy Hammers gathered the rebound and took a running jumper along the other baseline that bounced off the back of the iron. In the swarm of arms underneath, Rabold came away with the ball in the middle of the lane, turned toward the basket and sealed the fate with four seconds left.
“I just took the shot, figuring I had a 50-50 chance of making it,’’ Rabold said. “It was just a great feeling to see it go through.’’
“They worked hard and hit some very clutch shots when they needed to,’’ said a very dejected State College Coach Frank Guerra. “I’d just like to congratulate them and say nothing more.’’
Holding the district championship trophy, along with the game ball, Hurd had his arms full in the Lady Tigers’ post-game celebration, but he needed no help when asked if he needed assistance.
“No, I’m fine. I can carry 10 more of these trophies,’’ Hurd said, “and I hope I have to.’’
GAME NOTES: Rabold (18) and Webber (14) were Hollidaysburg’s double-digit scorers ... Henry (26) and Kretchmar (14) scored in double figures for State ... Hollidaysburg will meet Hempfield (fifth place team in District 7) Tuesday at St. Francis College in the first round of the interdistrict playoffs.
Hollidaysburg (51): Greaser 2 0-0 4, Webber 5 3-4 14, Rabold 5 8-11 18, Colabrese 1 2-2 4, Hammers 4 0-0 8, Currier 1 1-2 3, Heinbaugh 0 0-0 0, Potter 0 0-0 0. Totals — 18 14-19 51.
State College (49): Henry 10 6-7 26, Kretchmar 4 6-6 14, Mangan 1 0-0 3, Walsh 1 0-0 2, Liszka 1 0-0 2, McKnight 1 0-0 2, Moerschbachen 0 0-0 0. Totals — 18 12-13 49.
3-point goals — Hollidaysburg 1 (Webber); State College 1 (Mangan).