By John Hartsock
The silver lining for Altoona Area High School’s women’s basketball team — in Monday night’s game with Mid-Penn Conference Commonwealth Division favorite Central Dauphin — was that the Lady Lions limited a talented, taller and more seasoned opponent to just 40 points.
The downside for Altoona was that the Lady Lions only scored 25 themselves.
Led by 6-foot-3 senior center Caroline Shiery, a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds, Central Dauphin improved to 10-2 overall and 6-1 in the split using a quick start to take a lead. 24-10 at halftime. en route to a victory at the Fieldhouse.
Battling a front line that included Liberty University Division I commit Shiery and 6-foot-2 junior forward Alexis Buie, as well as Niagara University Division I commit and main guard Marlie Dickerson, Altoona held on in the second half, but converted just 10 of 34 total rushes in the game for 29.4%.
“We had our opportunities tonight, but Central Dauphin are the best team in the conference for a reason,” said Altoona coach Chris Fleegle, whose team fell 9-5 overall and 6- 3 in the division. “I thought we could have pushed the ball more in transition, but they really discourage peripheral play with their size.
“I don’t have a player who goes over 5-10, and they have a 6-3 and a 6-2,” Fleegle added. “Caroline takes away a lot from opponents near the basket. She is a handful.
Buie scored two field goals and Shiery had two defensemen and two free throws in the first quarter, which Central Dauphin carried, 14-5.
Shiery dominated the paint throughout the game, but particularly so in the second quarter, when she scored four goals from close range to help her team take a 14-point halftime lead.
“Altoona are a very talented team, and it’s definitely a learning week for us,” Shiery said. “We are working on things that we need to improve.
“It’s really nice to play with four seniors in our squad,” added Shiery. “He’s never just one player who does well for us in games.
Nonetheless, Shiery stood head and shoulders above the other players on the court Monday, but literally and figuratively.
“Not only does she have height and can score around the rim, but she also has a good shooting touch and she has a good jump shot at medium range,” Central Dauphin coach Randy Gambelunghe told AFP. about his star player.
Central Dauphin’s game plan was to stop Altoona’s solid shot from beyond the 3-point arc, according to Gambelunghe.
“We know that when we face Altoona it’s always a scrappy, well-drilled team,” Gambelunghe said. “They’re a good 3-point shooting team, and we really tried to focus on defending against 3-point shooting and taking advantage of our height tonight.
Altoona’s young team, with two freshmen in its starting lineup, was trailed by eight points from Nevaeh Gibson. Junior guard Brooklyn Barron and frosh guard Melanie Eyer had six points apiece, with Eyer shooting in a pair of 3-pointers.
Altoona cut the deficit to 10 points twice in the third quarter on field goals from Barron and Gibson, but couldn’t get closer. Central Dauphin’s biggest lead was 40-23 late in the fourth quarter on one of Dickerson’s two free throws.
Central Dauphin went 16 of 39 from the floor for 41% and, with Shiery leading, had a 26-19 advantage in rebounds. Barron and Gibson had five rebounds apiece for Altoona, who visits State College for another conference game tonight.
“Our kids are still going to compete, but there’s not a single person in our locker room who thinks we gave (Central Dauphin) our best shot tonight,” Fleegle said. “It’s probably best that we get back on the field so soon (against State College). I know our children will be ready to go.
DOLPHIN CENTRAL (40): Marlie Dickerson 1 5-8 7, M. Carolis 0 0-0 0, C. Shiery 10 2-7 22, Buie 3 1-2 7, A. Green 1 0-0 2, McGarvey 0 0-0 0, Ferguson 1 0-0 2, L. Cavoli 0 0-0 0, Maya Dickerson 0 0-2 0, Cooper 0 0-0 0, Ferguson 0 0-0 0. Totals – 16 8-19 40 .
ALTOONA (25): Wilt 0 0-0 0, Barron 2 2-2 6, Gibson 4 0-1 8, Burchfield 0 0-0 0, Eyer 2 0-0 6, Smith 1 0-0 2, Lane 0 0 -0 0, Krull 0 1-2 1, McGirk 1 0-0 2. Totals – 10 3-5 25.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Center dolphin 14 10 6 10–40
Altona 5 5 6 9 –25
3-point goals: Altoona 2 (Eyer 2).
Records: Central Dauphin (10-2 overall, 6-1 in the Mid-Penn Conference); Altoona (9-5, 6-3).
Officials: Ray Wotkowski, Bud Johnson, Jordan Forester.
JV: Central Dauphin, 34-14. Top scorers — Leah McGarvey, CD, 10; Savion Lyles and Anlyah Wright, A, 4 each.