B-A girls basketball keeps on winning


PIAA championship and homecoming reception; March 26, 2018. (Kyra Woomer)

Colin McCaulley, Sports Writer

The Lady Blue Devils’ magical basketball season has been over for a month, but the honors that go along with winning a state championship continue.

Sophomore Alli Campbell was named the Class 2A player of the year on the 2018 PA Sports Writers All-State Girls Basketball team. Coach Jim Swaney earned the top honor by winning the 2A Coach of the Year.

This is Campbell’s third player of the year award with the first two coming from the Altoona Mirror and from Gatorade for the state’s player of the year. Campbell was able to average 26.4 points, 8.2 boards and 5.1 assists per game at the point guard position. Alli has been held under double digits just once in her two-year, 61-game career against Mount union on February 2, 2017 when she scored nine points.

“Alli Campbell is the best player in Pennsylvania, period,” Coach Swaney said.  “She is very deserving of every award she gets.  Alli will be the first to tell you that this also is a team award.  Without the hard work and sacrifice of Alli and all of her teammates these awards do not happen.”

The sophomore’s last game of the year is what really validated all of the accolades she has received and made her deserving of even more when she netted 24 out of the lady Blue Devil’s 25 second half points in the 2A state championship game against West Catholic in Hershey. She would finish the title game win  with 34 points.

Coach Swaney has a 185-32 record in his eighth season with Bellwood-Antis and this was his first time being honored as the Coach of the Year. Swaney has been involved with the youth Bellwood-Antis basketball program and this team he has now truly is one of his own creation. He has been around most of his players since they were a couple years old running around in the elementary school gym.

“As I get toward the end of my career as a coach I have learned to slow down and appreciate the small things even more,” Coach Swaney said.  “It is the relationships with our players I will always remember.  I will never be able to thank this team enough for allowing me to share in this moment.  I will never forget them.”

Before coming to B-A, Swaney coached at Tyrone, where he earned more than 200 wins from 1987 through 2006, and he won a District 6 3A title in 1994. In his career he has won more than 400 games.

Even with all of those accolades, the Coach of the Year award is special for Coach Swaney.

“I am very honored and proud to accept this award.  They do not hand these out to coaches though unless you have very good players and a great staff,” he said.  “I can never say enough about the outstanding work that both Coach Longo and Coach McGarvey do every day to make our program a success. Without this talented and hard working group of kids, this award never takes place.  When a coach receives an award like this it is really a team award and everyone takes a piece of the award.”