Bellefonte Girls Basketball History
The newspaper headline in 1969 read as follows: “Finally . . . A Team”. Bellefonte finally got its first interscholastic girl’s basketball team in the Winter season of 1969/1970. Coach Jeanne Wagman had 85 girls try out for the team and after first eliminations and final cuts, the roster was reduced to 24 players. The first year was a learning experience as the team went winless at 0-14.Linda Lowe took over the Red Raiderettes for the Winter 1972/1973 season. The next year, the season moved to Spring 1974. Coach Lowe led the team for 9 seasons, totaled 99 wins and her 1975 team were the Central Penn League Champions.Bucky Quici became head coach in 1981 as the season was moved again, this time to the Fall season. The Fall 1982 team won the league title with an undefeated 14-0 regular season mark. A playoff loss was the only blemish on their schedule. Two years later, the season was switched again back to the Winter season where it has stayed ever since. In 1985, Coach Quici approached the Athletic Director about changing the name from the “Red Raiderettes” to the “Lady Raiders”. The 1986/1987 team finished with 18 wins, was District 6 runner-up and qualified for the state playoffs. Bucky coached for 8 seasons and earned 101 victories.The 1990’s saw five different coaches lead the Lady Raiders. Coaches included Bethany Irwin, Mark Feldman, Traci Wolfe, Dave Schaub and Terry Glunt. From 1993-2002, the program struggled, going 44-172 over a 10 year span. One bright spot during these years occurred during the 1992/1993 season, when Amy Facer became the first Lady Raider to break the 1,000 point milestone. Facer went on to earn a Division One basketball scholarship at Saint Josephs University in Philadelphia. Patti Longenecker took over as head coach for the 1999/2000 season, and the program started to gain momentum over her five-year tenure, going 14-12 in her final 2003/2004 campaign.In 2004/2005, new head coach Tina Gaughan witnessed the 1,000 point milestone broken for the second time in school history as Kristin Irwin joined Amy Facer in the record book. This year’s team also tied the school record of 18 wins in a season and was the District VI runner-up. The team win record was broken the very next year, as in Gaughan’s final season, the 2005/2006 team piled up the accomplishments. They set a team record of 20 wins on their way to winning the first District VI Championship in Lady Raider history (see photo below). This season included beating Bishop Guilfoyle and Hollidaysburg for the first time ever, beating Lewistown for the first time in 20 years and also winning their first game in the state playoffs.
The 2006/2007 team almost equaled the previous year. In Neil Cronin’s only season as head coach, the team posted 19 wins, was District VI runner-up and again earned a spot in the state playoffs. During this season, Missy Clouser became the third Lady Raider to score 1,000 points.
The 2007/2008 team continued to be successful. Playing in a new gym and for another new coach (Darin Hazel), the Lady Raider team won 22 games (school record) and also won the program’s second District VI title (see photo below). The Lady Raiders then won 2 games in the state playoffs to reach the Elite Eight and finished the season ranked #7 in the state. Angie Proper became the fourth Lady Raider to score 1,000 points and also became the first Lady Raider basketball player to earn All-State honors when she was named to the Associated Press PA All-State Third Team.
Coach Hazel stepped down as head coach after the 2010/2011 season, which saw the Lady Raiders go 7-15. A rebuilding process began in 2011/2012, when Roger Herto, the longtime coach at Indian Valley, was hired as the 12th head coach in the 43-year history of Lady Raider Basketball. The young group of Lady Raiders struggled through his first two seasons, posting a 7-37 mark. At the conclusion of the 2012/2013 season, Herto left the Lady Raiders and returned to coaching at the newly combined Mifflin County high school. Without a head coach for the off-season, the Lady Raider Basketball Booster Club, with coaching assistance from parent volunteers Brian Book and Tom Urban, made sure the team practiced and competed in the summer months. The girls ended the summer with a 13-12 record from playing games at the Millersville and Clarion camps, the Bucknell shoot-out, and the Juniata Valley YMCA summer league.The 2013/2014 season welcomed yet another new coach to the Lady Raider Basketball program. Brett Leister was hired as the 13th head coach, and he assembled a group of dedicated assistant and volunteer coaches to work with the team. Adam Gearhart, who had joined the Lady Raiders as a Junior Varsity coach under Hazel, and had been the Junior High coach under Herto, stayed on as the Assistant Varsity coach. Leister's winning season ended with a final record of 12-9 and included a first-round game in the District 6 Championships. For all the players, this was their first experience at the playoff level and a tough 3-point loss. The Lady Raiders also had two players named to the Mountain League All-Star teams: Jessica Book (sophomore, 2nd team), and Alexis Wetzler (junior, honorable mention).At the start of the 2014/2015 season, four-year assistant coach, Adam Gearhart, stepped up to lead the Lady Raiders' basketball program after the resignation of Leister. Gearhart intends to provide stability to the program and plans to remain for many years. The Lady Raiders were competitive during their first season under Gearhart, and Junior Jessica Book was named to the Mountain League All-Star First team.Following another season of competitive play and Jess Book being named first-team all-Mountain League, The Lady Raiders began moving back in the right direction. In the third season under Coach Gearhart, the team finished the season 12-13, reached the District 6-8-9 championship game and finished the season in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. Senior Lauren Young was a second-team Mountain League selection at the end of the season.The 2017/2018 season saw a youth movement in the program. The team started one senior, two sophomores, and two freshmen, with three to four freshman coming off the bench. The team finished 5-17, but finished with back-to-back wins. The team gained valuable experience for the upcoming years.In 2018/2019, the youth movement continued. The starting lineups featured 3 juniors and 2 sophomores, 2 juniors and 3 sophomores, and 1 junior and 4 sophomores throughout the season. The record improved to 9-14 in the regular season, and the year ended with a first-round loss in the District 6-8-9 playoffs to DuBois. Playing short-handed due to injuries, the Lady Raiders fell to DuBois, 45-40, in a back-and-forth matchup. The season did end with an individual accolade as Maddie Tice was voted to the second team of the Mountain League All-Stars.Coach Gearhart resigned following the end of the 2018/2019 season and 1st year volunteer assistant coach Marcus Toomer was hired as the 15th head coach in program history. Looking to build upon the previous season, the team returned 100% of the scoring from last year. After a season-ending injury to one of the seniors and a 3-9 start to the season, the 2019/2020 Lady Raiders were able to finish the season 10-13 and earn another first round matchup with DuBois in the 6-8-9 district playoffs. The Lady Raiders fell again to the Lady Beavers, 43-40 in a closely contested matchup. Though a tough end to the season, the Lady Raiders saw a lot of positives throughout the campaign. On January 22, 2020, the Lady Raiders reached a significant milestone. With a 54-30 victory over Philipsburg-Osceola, the Lady Raider basketball program earned its 500th victory. For the first time since 2011, the Lady Raiders defeated Penns Valley 44-38 after losing the previous matchup in December 45-32. Junior forward Sara DeHaas was voted a second team Mountain League All-Star at the conclusion of the season.The 2020/2021 season was a shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The season's start was delayed a couple of times due to rising cases and multiple quarantines across the region. The season finally started in January and saw the Lady Raiders get off to a rough 0-5 start. However, the team showed resolve and were able to bring their record to 8-8 in early March with a win over Central (Martinsburg). This was the first time since 2010 that the Lady Raiders defeated the Lady Dragons of Central. The Lady Raiders, unfortunately, finished the season on a 3-game losing streak to end with an 8-11 record. Their final loss came at the hands of Central Mountain in the semifinals of the 6-8-9 district playoffs. Senior forward Maddie Tice was voted a first team Mountain League All-Star at the conclusion of the season.The 2021/2022 season was a rebuilding year for the Lady Raiders. With the graduation of 5 senior starters, the Lady Raiders saw many players earn valuable Varsity playing experience. The team finished the season with a record of 3-19, but saw improvement throughout the season. One such improvement saw the Lady Raiders lose to Huntingdon at home by 4 points in overtime after losing the first contest by 34 points. Coach Toomer was very proud of the team's effort as they never gave up and continuously supported one another. Senior guard Emalee Neff and sophomore guard Maria Cotter were voted to the Mountain League All-Star team as Honorable Mentions at the conclusion of the season.
Last Modified on March 29, 2022