HOLLIDAYSBURG - The saying goes that if you can beat them, join them.
Of course, it's even better if you get them to join you.
"I've been saying for the past couple of summers,'' Sam Downey, star forward for the Mitch Grace Construction entry in the Hollidaysburg Area YMCA Women's Summer Basketball League, said, "that we have to get Brittany Sedlock on our team.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Mitch Grace Construction team members include (from left):?First row—Jess Beegle, Kristi (Streightiff) Watkins, Elaina Hummel, Claudia McDowell, Shelley McCune. Second row—Coach Ed McGinnis, Sam Downey, Britni Greenleaf, Jess Conner, Marcee Petrarca, Brittany Sedlock, coach/sponsor Mitch Grace.
"She's a tough player. I was thankful not to have to play against her this year.''
Especially so on Sunday night. A perennial playoff team and title contender, Grace Construction got a combined 40 points from its inside tandem of Sedlock and Downey, giving the team its first Alumni Division championship - and an undefeated season - with a 58-42 victory over second-seeded Andrews & Beard Law Office on Sunday night at the Y's Reliance Bank Gymnasium.
"It's scary to go into the playoffs with no losses, but, with the way we've been playing, and the way that we've been playing together, there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to come into the playoffs as strong as we did,'' Downey said.
It helped having added two players usually on teams vying with Grace Construction for championships - Sedlock and Claudia McDowell. Coming off the bench for her new squad, Sedlock poured in a game-high 26 points to help secure her third division championship in five years. Sedlock's team lost in last year's finals.
"I've been coming off the bench the whole season up here. I kind of like it,'' Sedlock said. "I knew we had a good team, with a lot of current and past college athletes. We certainly had our fair share of competition, but we were able to stick together and do what we needed to do and were able to pull away.''
Jess Conner - Downey's sister - chipped in with nine points, all from 3-point range, for Grace Construction. Kelsey Livoti paced Andrews & Beard with 13 points, while Jordan Speck netted 12 and Kate McDonald 10.
"We knew they like to get the ball inside, so we really wanted to focus on defense, because we're not really a tall team,'' Livoti said. "I know every summer league I'm in, they're always a team to beat. We knew they were a good team, but we wanted to see what we could give them.''
For the first five minutes, it was a lot: Andrews & Beard jumped out to a quick eight-point lead.
However, that's when Sedlock entered the game. Using an array of spins and fakes, scoring with either hand and outhustling everyone to rebounds and loose balls, she accounted for 14 of her team's next 19 points to turn a 10-2 deficit into a 27-18 halftime lead. Grace led by double-digits most of the rest of the game.
She also had a couple of assists, a couple of blocks and combined with Downey to help Grace forge a 27-19 rebounding edge.
"It's from a lot of practice, a lot of hours in the gym, every day since I was about 12,'' Sedlock, the former Northern Cambria High School and St. Vincent College star, said of how she developed such a versatile offensive game. "I played with the guys in my neighborhood. You have to be crafty to play against the boys.''
Sedlock formerly won two alumni championships with ProActive Sports. Last year, she suited up for Diamond Bridal Collection, but she had to leave that team because of college regulations - she is becoming an assistant coach, and several members of the Diamond Bridal team are her players.
So, she called Downey, who used to coach her in camps, to get hooked up with a new squad.
"They were nice enough to put me on the team,'' Sedlock said.
They were more than happy to help Sedlock out.
"Everybody was always excited and aggressive, and we just fed off of each other all through the year,'' Downey said. "It's nice to play with somebody that aggressive.''
ANDREWS & BEARD LAW OFFICES (42): Sellers 1 0-0 2, Speck 4 0-0 12, Hileman 1 0-0 2, Livoti 4 4-5 13, McDonald 5 0-0 10, Wortman 1 0-0 3, Matter 0 0-0 0, Edwards 0 0-0 0, Strouse 0 0-0 0. Totals - 16-36 4-5 42.
MITCH GRACE CONSTRUCTION (58): Hummel 0 0-0 0, Watkins 1 0-0 2, McCune 1 0-0 3, Downey 5 4-4 14, Greenleaf 0 0-0 0, Sedlock 9 7-8 26, McDowell 1 0-2 2, Petrarca 0 0-0 0, Conner 3 0-0 9, Beegle 1 0-0 2. Totals - 21-43 11-12 58.
Halftime-Mitch Grace Construction, 27-18. 3-point goals-Andrews & Beard Law Offices 6-16 (Speck 4, Wortman, Livoti); Mitch Grace Construction 5-10 (Conner 3, McCune, Sedlock). Officials-Sue Kovensky, Bill Pfeffer, Jim Klausman.