JOHNSTOWN - Here's what made the difference for McConnellsburg on Saturday afternoon: Quigley Catholic won the third quarter, 26-10.
After trailing by a mere seven points at halftime, McConnellsburg did not play up to its ability in the third. It committed eight turnovers in the frame, shot just 28 percent from the field and watched a seven-point deficit turn into a 23-point lead for Quigley.
Quigley went on to win the PIAA Class A first-round girls basketball game, 59-39. It will face Bishop Carroll (23-4) in Round 2.
"We just had too many turnovers," McConnellsburg junior Bridgette Ritchey said. "We were trying to push the ball, and we weren't taking the time like we should. We were forcing it into the middle, and we relied on that a little too much."
The middle is certainly a strength for the Spartans (18-9), who were led by Bronwyne Mellott's 21 points. But the rest of the team combined for just 18 points.
McConnellsburg finished the day with 23 turnovers, nine of which came directly on steals from Quigley (20-6).
"We play our 1-3-1 pretty well, and some teams aren't used to it," Quigley coach Bill Del Tondo said. "That can throw them off track a little bit. Also, our girls do a good job of reading the ball and stepping in front and getting the pass."
Out of halftime, Quigley got a long jumper from Clara Stephenson before the teams traded 3-pointers. But after that, it was all Quigley for the next several minutes. It scored eight consecutive points, including six straight from leading scorer Gabbie Smith.
Smith scored 14 points in the frame, and she finished with an incredible stat line. She piled up 34 points to go along with 10 rebounds and five steals.
"Their big girl was incredible," McConnellsburg coach Brent Seville said. "We never match up well with any big players, but I was hoping to contain her to 20 points. Obviously that didn't happen. Also, it was hard to get into any type of offense with her being right on top of their 1-3-1."
Del Tondo said, "Gabbie is a great player, and she knows how to play within herself and within our system. I think some teams when they have a really all-star player, they try to throw everything to her. Luckily, we've been able to let her play the way she plays within the framework of our team."
For McConnellsburg, Mellott had the lone double-double. She grabbed 11 boards to go along with her 21 points. Ritchey finished with six points, 12 rebounds, four assists and a trio of steals. Justice Seville scored three 3-pointers.
"It was a good season for us," Ritchey said. "Nobody expected us to be here. Everybody is so proud of us, and I'm proud of us, too. We accomplished a lot for being a little team and having everyone doubt us in the beginning."
Quigley Catholic 59, McConnellsburg 39
Quigley Catholic (59)
Gabbie Smith 11 11-14 34, Julia Etherson 3 1-2 7, Hannah Broniszewski 0 0-0 0, Ashley Mineard 1 0-0 2, Taylor Kirschner 4 1-2 11, Clara Stephenson 2 0-0 5, Madison Pingley 0 0-0 0, Gillian Mazar 0 0-0 0. Totals — 21 13-18 59.
Alexis Mellott 1 0-0 3, Justice Seville 3 0-0 9, Bridgette Ritchey 3 0-0 6, Bronwyne Mellott 7 7-11 21, Kylie Keefer 0 0-0 0, Kellyn Perry 0 0-0 0. Totals — 14 7-11 39.
Quigley Cath. _ 9 _ 13 _ 26 _ 11 _ — _ 59
McConnellsburg _ 5 _ 10 _ 10 _ 14 _ — _ 39
3-point goals — QC 4 (Kirschner 2, Smith, Stephenson), McC 4 (Seville 3, A.Mellott).