Check out plays from each of McConnellsburg's scorers against Tussey Mountain on Monday, Feb. 6. Video by Lindsey Smith
In McConnellsburg's first year in District 5 Class 2A, the Lady Spartans have a solid chance at bringing home a trophy - but one team still stands in the way.
Tussey Mountain looked to be the lone District 5 team that could give McConnellsburg trouble in the final - that is, until Monday night.
McConnellsburg redeemed itself from an earlier five-point loss to the Titans with a 51-34 Sideling Hill League/Inter-County Conference win, potentially previewing the upcoming District 5 2A final.
The most recent District 5 power rankings were released earlier Monday, putting McConnellsburg (12-6, 8-5 SHL, 6-5 ICC) in a tie for second with Meyersdale, while Tussey held the No. 1 slot with an 11-5 record.
Now with two games left before the district cutoff, McConnellsburg's only second-half loss to a 2A team came at the hands of Northern Bedford, who is ranked one spot out of making the district tournament.
In the final stretch of the season the Lady Spartans have not only consistently put multiple scorers in double figures, but they are also learning to control the ball to reduce turnovers and pull down important rebounds - which was the game changer Monday against the Titans.
"We knew we had to get our own rebounds to help us out because last time we didn't rebound that well," McConnellsburg's Bridgette Ritchey said. "We moved the ball around a lot more now and now we are playing better as a team together."
After a slow start with a less-than-impressive shooting percentage, the Spartans came out in the second half and began piling on the points before pulling out to a 20-point lead late in the game. The team had 28 rebounds in each of its last two games, which to coach Brent Seville is one of the most important parts of the team's strategy moving forward if shots are not falling.
"I think this is a preview of (districts) so I'm glad to see our girls were able to get up early, and continue to protect the basketball," Seville said. "We failed at the beginning of the season to get rebounds, and that's what lost us this game at the beginning of the season. I told the girls if you want to win ballgames you have to get 25 rebounds, and especially against a big team like this."
Bronwyne Mellott led the Spartans with 30 points, 18 in the second half alone, and was the only McConnellsburg player to reach double figures. Ritchey, who is normally a defensive standout for the Spartans, scored a season-high eight points in the win.