Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School's Pleasant Valley gymnasium can be a difficult place for opposing teams to visit.
The gym's bandbox dimensions are much smaller and cozier than most venues, and the Marauders and Lady Maruaders - both of whom have traditionally played a style of basketball that is as gritty and tenacious as any in the state - are much more familiar with those dimensions.
BG honored its three graduating seniors - Collin Sullivan, Tai Irwin and Sam Dunning - in a ceremony preceding its Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference, Section I matchup with visiting Penn Cambria Monday night. Guilfoyle, true to form, took the high road, making Penn Cambria feel right at home by also honoring its three seniors - Justin and Joel Myers, and Jordan Conrad.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Penn Cambria’s A.J. Leahey pulls in a rebound over BG’s Sam Dunning.
Once the game started, Penn Cambria became even more comfortable, breaking out in the third and fourth quarters after leading by only four points at halftime, and cruising to a 55-40 victory.
Penn Cambria's three junior big men - 6-foot-7 A.J. Leahey, 6-4 Nate Keagy, and 6-2 Devin Lawhead - helped the Panthers control the boards, 40-28, with Leahey grabbing 18 rebounds to go along with his game-high 21 points. Lawhead added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Keagy scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Penn Cambria improved to 16-5 overall and 9-1 in the section, while BG dropped to 6-4 and 12-9.
"We knew we had an edge inside with our size and athleticism,'' Penn Cambria coach Jim Ronan said. "Our game plan was to be physical. We missed a ton of layups in the first half, but we attacked the same way in the second half, and got some of our shots to fall.''
After making only eight of 29 shots in the first half and leading just 18-14 at intermission, Penn Cambria converted 14 of 25 floor shots in the second half, finishing with a 50 percent (22 of 44) ratio overall.
"BG is always so good defensively that when you play them, especially here, we wanted to use our size and play the post,'' Ronan said. "We hit the glass hard tonight. BG didn't get many second shots.''
Marauders coach Josh Baker noted that his team didn't make many of its first shots.
"Our kids did a great job of staying aggressive tonight,'' Baker said. "I thought we played a pretty good game. We just didn't make anything, and their length and athleticism wore us down in the fourth quarter.''
Penn Cambria actually started gaining separation in the third quarter, after Marauders' guard Patrick Irwin had pulled BG to within four points, 22-18, on a 3-pointer from the left side. PC's James Mardula responded with a 3-pointer from the wing, and Joel Myers fired in another 3-pointer from beyond the top of the circle, giving the Panthers a double-digit (28-18) lead. Lawhead's two free throws and Leahey's length-of-the court layup capped off a 14-4 quarter for Penn Cambria, which led, 32-18 after three stops.
"We started going after Joel Myers hit that 3-pointer,'' Leahey said. "In the first half, we were getting the looks we wanted, but we couldn't make any shots. In the second half, we started finishing shots.''
BG, which got 11 points from Tai Irwin, could get no closer than nine points (36-27) on C.J. Fulare's 3-pointer midway through the third quarter. Penn Cambria answered with the next eight points for a 44-27 cushion, as Leahey and junior Mack Behe both hit a pair of free throws and scored a field goal.
BG hosts archrival Altoona in the renewal of the city rivalry Thursday night.
'Our kids are really looking forward to that,'' Baker said.
Game notes: Marauders won the junior varsity game, 49-43, behind 11 points from Damon Rickens. Nate Przybys scored 11 for Penn Cambria's jayvees ... Penn Cambria hosts Ligonier Valley tonight.
PENN CAMBRIA (55): Behe 3 2-2 8, Mardula 1 0-0 3, Leahey 9 2-2 21, Keagy 3 1-2 7, Lawhead 5 3-7 13, Jo. Myers 1 0-0 3, Tsikalas 0 0-0 0, Schwaderer 0 0-0 0, Przybys 0 0-0 0, Ju. Myers 0 0 0-0 0. Totals - 22 8-13 55.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE CATHOLIC (40): P. irwin 2 0-2 5, Sullivan 2 1-2 6, T. Irwin 5 1-3 11, Patterson 1 0-0 2, Dunning 0 0-0 0, Drenning 0 0-0 0, Rickens 1 3-3 6, Nardelli 0 0-0 0, Fulare 3 0-0 8, Snyder 1 0-0 2. Totals - 15 5-10 40.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Penn Cambria9 9 14 23 - 55
Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic8 6 4 22 - 40
3-point goals: Penn Cambria 3 (Leahey, Mardula, Joel Myers); Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic 5 (Fulare 2, P. Irwin, Sullivan, Rickens).
Records: Penn Cambria (16-5 overall; 9-1 in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference, Section I); Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic (12-9 overall, 6-4 in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference, Section I).
Officials: Brian Smith, Lynn Smitt, Jim Klausman.
JV: Bishop Guilfoyle, 49-43. High scorers-Przybys, PC, 11; Rickens, BG, 11.