Note: This article originally appeared in the Mirror on Wednesday, March 20, 1996.
By Neil Rudel
Associate Sports Editor
INDIANA — Jill Humbertson almost wasn’t here to be the star.
Humbertson, the Lady Lions’ 6-foot senior center, left the team at the beginning of her junior year and did not rejoin it until after the Rotary Tournament was completed in December.
She did so only after the team voted to welcome her back.
“Jill Humbertson proved tonight that the decision made by her teammates and myself last year was the right one,’’ Altoona coach Art Taneyhill said Tuesday after Humbertson’s 8-foot bank shot with six seconds left lifted the Lady Lions to a 56-55 victory over Woodland Hills in the PIAA Class AAAA western final. “She’s had a great run in the playoffs.’’
Humbertson wasn’t sure she wanted to be a reserve last year. She anticipated playing behind Krista Thomas, Jessica Montrella and Julie Sommer and “I lost my focus.’’
She found out she missed the game, and wasn’t comfortable with squandering an opportunity to possibly gain a college scholarship. She signed in November to play at Robert Morris next year.
“There was a lot of pressure to go back last year and I’m glad I did,’’ she said. “I felt there was a lot of potential that I didn’t want to waste.’’
Humbertson scored 12 points Tuesday night, including two field goals after Altoona rallied from a five-point deficit in the last minute.
As she was hugging teammates and fellow Altoona High School students, Humbertson was beaming.
“We didn’t have a lot of players coming back this year,’’ she said, “and I knew they were counting on me.’’