FRIDAY, Jan. 22, 2021
ALTOONA-MIDWAY MIDDLE SCHOOL BASKETBALL
PARSONS – Thursday’s middle school doubleheader between Altoona-Midway and St. Patrick’s was billed to feature the boys’ contest, which would probably decide the Mineral Belt League regular-season title.
Instead, it was the girls’ game that stole the spotlight.
The opening game was highlighted by a dramatic comeback by the AMMS girls that sent the game into overtime before the Lady Saints squeezed out a thrilling 35-33 victory.
The nightcap proved to be somewhat anticlimactic, as St. Pats jumped out early and rolled to a 48-35 win over the Jets.
The Lady Jets were down 24-15 entering the final period, and still trailed 25-17 with just two minutes remaining. AMMS tallied five straight points, but a St. Pat bucket with just 25 seconds left made it 27-22.
Enter Emmalynn Pupanek, who came up with an old-fashioned three-point play with 17 seconds left, then calmly hit two free throws with nine seconds left to send the game into overtime.
The Lady Jets suffered a major blow when Pupanek (who finished with 20 points and eight rebounds) fouled out at the 2:24 mark of overtime, but buckets by Chantel Morales and Abby Relph pulled AMMS within one, and the Lady Jets had two free throw and two field goal attempts in the final minute, but came up just short.
“That was a nail-biter for sure,” noted AMMS head coach Michelle Morales. “The girls played well tonight. I am so proud of the team they have become. This was the first time we have taken a game into overtime. They played smart and they were strong with the ball. There were some mistakes and turnovers that we will go over in practice.
“I’m super proud of Emmalynn tonight. She proved that she is a threat under the basket. She played with strength tonight and was a great leader for the team,” Morales added. “All the girls showed up to play tonight. Yes, we lost by two in overtime, but the girls left tonight with their heads held high. They are pumped and ready for Monday’s game.”
In addition to Pupanek’s output, the Lady Jets saw five other players reach the scoring column. Autumn Raymond had four points (to go along with 14 rebounds), Morales netted three, and Relph, Lexi Foundry and Lexyn Bracken added two apiece.
The Lady Jets now stand 3-6 overall and 3-4 in MBL action.
The Jets needed a win to split the season series and share the regular season league crown with St. Pats. Instead, the Saints jumped out early and AMMS was unable to recover.
St. Pats led 22-5 at the quarter and 28-9 at halftime. AMMS actually won the second half 26-20, but it was not enough as the Saints remained unbeaten in MBL action, while the Jets fell to 5-2 in league and 5-5 overall.
“We came out pretty sluggish and just could not get it clicking the first quarter. We didn't shoot well at all,” noted AMMS coach Jeff Almond. “The kids played tight and that's on me. They always play hard; I never have to question that.
“We played pretty even after the 1st quarter, but we just dug ourselves too deep a hole.”
William Stackhouse led the Jets with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Kieran Foster fired in 13 points and added eight caroms.
“William stepped up and was our driving force tonight,” Almond said. “He earned a double-double for the second consecutive game.”
Rounding out the scoring for AMMS were Kage Beck with four points and Joey Lamendola with two. The Saints were led by Drew Schibi with 18 and Wyatt Schultz with 12.
“We'll be ready for St. Paul on Monday,” Almond said. “It will be our last home game of the season and the boys will want to protect their house.”