Fourth-quarter surge leads Devils to title

B-A blows open close game in the fourth to win the school’s first title since 2003

Bellwood-Antis+went+up+at+the+half+and+then+battled+back+to+win+it+all+against+West+Branch.

Kerry Naylor

Bellwood-Antis went up at the half and then battled back to win it all against West Branch.

Christina Kowalski, Sports/Social Media Editor

 

As time expired in the third quarter Friday at the Altoona Fieldhouse, you could almost see West Branch lose hope when Nathan Davis drained a three point buzzer beater from just inside half court that put the Blue Devils ahead 45-43.

As Davis drained the shot, Bellwood-Antis regained momentum and went on to with the District 6-AA Championship 70-64.

This championship is a true testament to the players buying into what we knew they could do.”

— Coach Gerwert

There were high hopes heading into the game and right from the start you could tell that B-A wanted to bring home its fourth District 6 title.

The Blue Devils were leading by two heading into the final quarter, and as West Branch essentially kept its starting five on the court, B-A continued to pull both Noah D’Angelo and Trent Walker off the bench. Walker, who has been scoring double-digits throughout playoffs, scored 11 points in the title game while D’Angelo added solid defense along with 4 points.

“We wore West Branch down as the game went on,” said Jarrett Taneyhill, “We work really hard on our stamina and they were showing signs of fatigue toward the end.”

The Blue Devils and Warriors almost went bucket-for-bucket the entire game, but B-A was able to outscore the Warriors by a couple points each quarter to bring home the win.

In the first half West Branch held Nathan Davis to just five points, but they were unable to stop Joe Padula, who scored 14 of his 19 points.

“As we all know on the team, we are not a one man show,” said Coach Brent Gerwert, “Obviously, Nathan is a huge part of our team, but when teams try to take him away, we have more than enough guys who can pick up the load.”

Heading into the half B-A had a three point lead, but against a team like West Branch a three point lead can slip right through your fingers in a matter of seconds.

Coming out after halftime B-A knew it was going to have to play hard, disciplined basketball in order to win, but would the win have to be without Davis?

Just ten seconds into the second half Davis took an elbow right above the eye which required him to leave the game, not once but twice. Davis was only out of the game for 2:23 as trainer Jesse Glass worked on his cut, but that was long enough for West Branch to take a 43-42 lead late in the third.

Bellwood-Antis basketball/YouTube

In the fourth quarter Davis, who would later need stitches, put up 13 points, including a pair of threes and a 5-for-5 run at the foul line, as he led his team to a championship. Davis was the game’s leading scoring with 22 points followed be West Branch’s Kody Trude with 21 points.

B-A put on a true team performance as they pulled away from West Branch in the final minutes of the game.  The defense was getting rebounds off of West Branch’s missed shots and then quickly getting the ball down the court so the offense could score.

“Whether it is having others step up to score, or get stops on defense, our success is based on the players believing in themselves and sticking together when times are tough. This championship is a true testament to the players buying into what we knew they could do, and believing they could do it,” added Coach Gerwert.

It was B-A’s first District crown since 2003, and it propels the Devils, now 24-2, into the PIAA playoffs, where they will face 20-6 Quaker Valley from the WPIAL Saturday in Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School at 4:30.

Taneyhill also added, “This was a huge win because it was our main goal this season. We hung a banner up in the gym and because of this people will remember our team.”