Albert Gallatin girls rally past Connellsville

| Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, 11:12 p.m.

For most of Thursday night, Albert Gallatin was forced to play catch-up.

However, a huge fourth-quarter effort by Taylor Spence allowed the visiting Colonials to storm back from a 12-point deficit and pull out a 51-47 victory over Connellsville in a Section 1-AAAA girls basketball game.

“We got down early, but I'm just so proud of them,” Albert Gallatin coach Dawn Spence said. “They played with a lot of heart to get back in the game. They played with pride.”

The come-from-behind win avenged a 73-29 loss to the Falcons less than a month ago.

And, for Connellsville, it was a disappointing way to end the 2013-14 season.

“The whole second half of the season we haven't scored well,” Connellsville coach Kenny Johnson said. “We go on dry spells. We just have to put the ball in the hole.”

Connellsville was outscored 21-7 in the fourth quarter.

“The energy changed a little bit, and they had a couple of seniors that wanted to go out the right way,” Johnson said.

Senior Diamond Madison kept the Colonials (7-13, 4-10) in the game with a strong effort. She finished with a game-high 22 points. Ally Rudolph also provided some consistent scoring on her way to a 13-point night.

Taylor Spence was kept off the scoreboard for the first three quarters.

But when it mattered most, she stepped up big, hitting three clutch baskets and knocking down 5 of 6 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter.

“Diamond and Ally were giving it all night, and I told Taylor she had to start putting points on the board, and she did it,” Dawn Spence said.

Before Taylor Spence heated up, it looked like the game would belong to Connellsville.

The Falcons (7-14, 4-10) got points from seven players, but only Ashton Grimm (11 points) hit double digits. Still, the Falcons appeared in control thanks to some solid defense.

Connellsville led 35-23 in the third after Maria Merendino, who finished with nine points, drained a 3-pointer to give the Falcons a seemingly comfortable lead.

However, trailing by nine to start the fourth, the Colonials dominated the final quarter.

Several clutch shots by Spence pulled the Colonials to within 44-43. Then with less than two minutes to play, Rudolph hit a putback to give the visitors the lead.

In the waning moments, Rudolph and Spence hit big foul shots to help the Colonials complete the comeback.

“Free throws were the game-changer because we were going back and forth with baskets,” Dawn Spence said.

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at

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