Maizee Fry, Bria Bair

United’s Maizee Fry, right, celebrates at the buzzer beside Bishop McCort’s Bria Bair after a PIAA District 6 Class 2A semifinal playoff game in Johnstown, PA., Friday, March 5, 2021. Fry was the game's high scorer with 34 points.

Maizee Fry attracted two and sometimes three defenders throughout Friday night’s District 6 Class 2A girls basketball semifinal.

On one possession, as the 6-foot United senior center got the ball in the paint, four Bishop McCort Catholic players quickly surrounded Fry.

Still, Fry managed to make 16 field goals and score 34 points. She also grabbed 18 rebounds, as fifth-seeded United came back from an eight-point deficit with 5:36 to play and beat the top-seeded Crimson Crushers 68-60.

“Maizee has just been stepping up big-time,” said United coach Paul Hall, whose 17-4 Lions will face Heritage Conference rival Penns Manor in the district title game on Wednesday. “Up and down the court. I need her to get up and down the court. When she’s around the boards, she dominates. Clutch shots. She comes up with big plays for me.”

During the back-and-forth second half, Fry, who is headed to NCAA Division I Robert Morris University to compete in track and field, scored 19 points and had seven rebounds and three blocks.

“That’s a good team,” Bishop McCort Catholic coach John Hahn said after his team closed a 14-5 season. “And, Miss Maizee, as I call her, just destroys us. She hurt us last time we played her. They just have a good ballclub.”

Bishop McCort Catholic seemed to hold the upper hand after junior guard Lexi Martin converted both free throws following a technical foul called against the Lions bench with 5:36 left. The Crimson Crushers led 52-44.

Complicating matters for the Lions was a shaky stretch on the free-throw line, as United missed the front end of three straight one-and-one situations. But that trend changed in the closing minutes.

“I’m very proud of our team,” Fry said. “(Bishop McCort) got on that little run and their fans, the intensity of the gym, was not going towards us. I’m glad our guards started to calm down and started to understand that they’re open and they should shoot the ball. We’ll get the rebounds. I’m glad I finally started to slow down in the paint and not rush. I focused on my shot.”

Mollee Fry hit a 3-pointer, and Maizee Fry scored a basket to close the gap to 52-49.

McCort added a Martin free throw, and then United’s Brooklynn Murlin made a 3-pointer, and Maizee Fry, United's top all-time female scorer, completed a three-point play to put the Lions ahead 55-53 with 2:49 left.

“I wanted to get the girls together and understand that this could be our last five minutes and I didn’t want that to end on a bad note,” Maizee Fry said. “We came together as a team, calmed down and just brought the intensity back this way.”

Martin pulled McCort to a 55-all tie at 1:45, but the Lions outscored the host Crushers 13-5 down the stretch.

United’s Lauren Donelson went 8 of 10 on the line in the final quarter, including six straight to close the contest. She made 10 free throws overall and had 13 points.

“It’s all heart tonight,” Hall said. “They made runs. We were down 7 or 8 points, and we answered.

“I told them we started getting out of our game plan,” the Lions coach added. “Their transition game, that’s what (Bishop McCort) scores on. They started getting a lot of easy baskets. We’ve got to slow it down and then we’ve got to keep the ball coming into Fry. Then that opens everything else up with our shooters.”

Martin led Bishop McCort Catholic with 21 points. Sophomore Bria Bair had 11 points and 15 rebounds.

United led 11-9 after one quarter and 22-19 at halftime. The score was tied 42-all through three quarters.

“I told the girls at halftime, ‘This is going right down to the wire,’” Hahn said. “They shot the ball extremely well. Went to the foul line. Did what they had to do. It was a good game.”

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

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