THANK YOU, SENIORS: Bald Eagle Area High wins against Bellefonte on Senior Night, 30-24

Bald Eagle Area High School Girl’s Basketball seniors (Alexis Bucha, Mariah Veneziano, Cheer Oriana Conaway, Madison Watkins and Morgan Chambers) pose for a photo during a senior ceremony before a basketball game against Bellefonte. (The Express/Tim Weight)

Bald Eagle Area High School Girl’s Basketball seniors (Alexis Bucha, Mariah Veneziano, Cheer Oriana Conaway, Madison Watkins and Morgan Chambers) pose for a photo during a senior ceremony before a basketball game against Bellefonte. (The Express/Tim Weight)

WINGATE — Bald Eagle Area showed signs of improvement in recent outings, but wasn’t quite able to climb back into the win column.

But the euphoria from it being senior night boosted the Eagles as BEA defeated rival Bellefonte, 30-24, to end the season on a high note.

“It’s just nice to go into the offseason with a win and send these seniors off with a really good emotional high against a rival school,” BEA coach Darin Hazel said.

BEA’s stingy defense surrendered a season-low 24 points Thursday night.

“Our defense has just been rock-solid the second half of the year,” Hazel said. “Holding a team to 24 points is just a great [team] effort. Bellefonte’s got some kids who can shoot the ball and I thought our girls really rose to the occasion. They really stepped up and played defense.”

Lacee Barnhart recorded a team-high 15 points. She was the Eagles’ go-to player and drained two shots from beyond-the-arc.

“She has to score for us,” Hazel said of Barnhart who is the team’s top-scoring threat. “She’s really evolved as the season’s gone on and she’s really become a scorer for us. She shot the ball well from the perimeter and she’s one of those kids who stepped up on the offensive end.”

SECOND HALF RALLY

Bald Eagle Area trailed Bellefonte, 14-13, entering intermission, but played lights-out to open the third quarter with a 12-0 run.

The Eagles quickly regained the lead after Lacee Barnhart knocked down a three to put BEA up, 16-13. Rachael Veneziano then had a bounce pass to Barnhart underneath the basket for another score. Veneziano followed that assist with a layup of her own to extend BEA’s lead, 20-14.

Barnhart continued the rally after recording a steal at mid-court and racing to the basket for a layup. Soon after, she knocked down a three widening BEA’s lead, 25-14, with 5:13 remaining in the quarter.

Barnhart recorded 10 points in the third period as BEA headed into the fourth ahead 25-18.

In the fourth, Bellefonte was able to come within four of tying the game, but a last-second layup by Lexi Skripek sealed the 30-24 win for BEA.

SENIOR STARS

Seniors Morgan Chambers, Mariah Veneziano, Madison Watkins and Alexis Bucha all played their last game in a BEA uniform.

“These seniors deserved to end on a high-note, just because of the leadership they provided for us,” Hazel said.

Senior Morgan Chambers recorded six points against Bellefonte. Hazel said she shines on both sides of the ball.

“Morgan’s just a really good and solid all-around player,” Hazel said of Chambers. “I think for us, she’s just the defensive stopper who protects the rim.”

Mariah Veneziano took on a new role this season and grew into one of the team’s primary ball handlers.

“She took the challenge and ran with it,” Hazel said of Veneziano.“She’s just a really gritty player, but also really supportive of all [her teammates].”

Madison Watkins battled through an injury early in the season, but bounced back to play solid defense.

“Madison’s a really hard-working kid and good defensive player,” Hazel said of Watkins. “She really gets after it and plays extremely hard.”

And Alex Bucha brought to the table her strong shooting and burning passion to win.

“She had that inside-post presence and a really nice shot,” Hazel said of Bucha. “She’s super competitive and wants to win more than anybody.”

TEAM SCORING

BF 10 4 4 6 – 24

BEA 9 4 12 5 – 30

INDIVIDUAL SCORING

Bald Eagle Area: Lacee Barnhart- 15 points, Morgan Chambers- 6 points, Rachael Veneziano- 4 points, Lexi Skripek- 3 points, Sarah Holler-2 points

Bellefonte: Abbey Bruni- 8 points, Bella Corman- 4 points- Maddie Tice- 3 points, Mia Johnson-3 points, Hannah Lauck- 2 points, Mallorie Smith- 2 points, Maddie Steiner- 2 points.

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