Lady Devils looking for three-peat

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Mya Decker

B-A's girls are looking to make it back to the Giant Center for an unprecedented third straight PIAA title.

Troy Walker, Sports Editor

After posting an impressive 22-1 regular season record, and winning a decisive ICC championship game against an Everett team who is still fighting for a chance to play in Hershey, the Lady Blue Devils basketball team suffered a somewhat surprising loss in the second round of the 2020 District 6 playoffs to Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic.

The 2020 season was one filled with success, 1,000 points scorers, team records, and individual records.  Despite the amazing season, it all could be gone with the wind because of the extremely high expectations set by the Lady Blue Devils FOR the Lady Blue Devils.

B-A opens the PIAA playoffs today in New Castle against Laurel, looking to become the first Blair County team in history to win three straight state titles.

“We are a senior-dominant team. We want to play hard to win our conference, district, and then a state title,” said Senior Alli Campbell back in DECEMBER when asked about what the expectations for the 2020 season looked like.  Despite not meeting one of the goals, arguably the main goal is still alive, and the path to a state title starts tonight.

First, let’s take a look back to where the Lady Blue Devils were in the past years:

In 2018, the Bellwood-Antis Lady Blue Devils headed into the state playoffs as the third seed in the PIAA District 6 playoffs (sound familiar?), coming off of a loss in the semi-finals to Blairsville in the 2018 District 6 playoffs.

For most of the players, and people in the community this memory is fresh in their minds because 2018 marks the first of 2 back-to-back state titles for B-A, and despite not winning the D6 title, B-A found a way to extend their season and eventually avenge their loss to Blairsville in the state semi-finals, and then defeated West Catholic in the state championship 45-42 in a game that then Sophomore Alli Campbell basically put the team on her back scoring 34 of the teams points.

The 2019 state title was a different story.

A dominant season with a 27-3 record, and 12 straight wins to end the season, ultimately propelled B-A to their second straight title, led by then Junior Alli Campbell who averaged 29.1 points per game and 9.6 rebound on the season.

In the 2019 state championship game at the Giant Center in Hershey, the team was yet again led by Alli, who poured in a game-high 24 points, but the unsung hero may have been then Junior Macy Decker who hit 3 three-pointers on her way to 9 points, and a victory of 66-57 win over West Middlsex.

The 2020 state playoffs will test the Lady Blue on their way to a state title:

Despite what seems to be a similar path to 2018, one that is most likely tougher than 2019, there is no reason to count out the 2-time defending state champs.

With two Division 1 players in Alli Campbell (Notre Dame), and Sakeria Haralson (Monmouth), it’s tough to not give the Lady Blue Devils an advantage over anyone else they play.

Laurel comes into tonight’s game with a record of 17-8, and if the role players for B-A can step back up into the light, a cruising win could definitely be on the horizon.

A much shorter travel would come in the second-round.  B-A would play either Redbank Valley or Cochranton.

Later in the state playoffs, B-A could be severely tested with a rematch against West Middlesex, the team they beat in last year’s state title game. Some other teams that could be seen in the semi-finals could be Bishop Canevin, Everett or a Bishop McCourt team that B-A already beat. If they are fortunate enough to make it back to the Giant Center, there’s even the possibility of a rematch against Bishop Guilfoyle, which is competing in the PIAA playoffs out of the east.

Expectations are high, and the Lady Blue Devils have everything they have right in front of them to make a long state title run in the month of March.