JOHNSTOWN?- Saturday's Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference boys championship game between Johnstown and Penn Cambria was a rematch of a game played in early January.
In that game, Penn Cambria took a 39-33 lead into the locker room at halftime, but Johnstown rallied in the second half to earn a hard-fought 68-67 victory.
The LHAC title game, however, did not come close to living up to that first game. Johnstown jumped out to an 11-0 lead, and took a 41-20 cushion into halftime. Unlike the Trojans in the first game, the Panthers were not able to mount a second-half comeback. Not even A.J. Leahey's eight three-pointers and 28 points could get Penn Cambria back into the game, as the Panthers fell, 84-59, at Richland.
"They didn't miss a shot," Penn Cambria coach Jim Ronan said. "We had three or four layups that were just simple layups that we missed, probably because we were nervous. If we make those three or four layups, it's a different start right there."
One of those missed layups came off the opening tip. Penn Cambria also missed three shots under the basket on its next possession. Johnstown, however, had no trouble putting the ball in the basket. The Trojans jumped out to an 11-0 lead just three minutes into the game.
"You can't get down that quick that early against Johnstown because the hill is so steep after that," Ronan said. "You have to expend so much energy to try to even get back into the game. The guys played extremely hard for us, but Johnstown was clicking on all cylinders. There aren't many teams that were going to beat them tonight."
With his team struggling to make short shots, Leahey took to the outside. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the Trojans' lead to 11-6.
Johnstown responded with a 6-0 run, pushing the lead back to 11 points, before Mac Behe scored at the 2:18 mark to make the Trojans' lead 19-8.
Leahey followed up with his third triple of the quarter. However, the Trojans finished the quarter on a 5-0 run, including a 3-pointer by Phillip Madison in the final seconds to take a 24-11 lead after eight minutes of play.
Things only got worse for the Panthers in the second quarter. They were held to three field goals, and nine total points. Johnstown had six different players score in the quarter, including field goals from five different players, and took a 41-20 lead at halftime.
Leahey and Joel Myers put on a shooting display in the third quarter. They combined for seven 3-pointers and 23 points.
Leahey hit five of those triples from all over the court, often drawing double coverage. His shooting cut the Trojans' lead to 15 points three different times in the quarter.
Unfortunately, that was the closest the Panthers got. Each time the lead was cut to 15 points the Trojans made key baskets to extend the lead.
Johnstown pushed the lead to 59-37 late in the quarter. The Panthers closed the frame on an 8-3 run to cut the lead to 61-45 with 8 minutes left in the game. However, Johnstown used a 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
"The last time we played them we didn't come out with any energy, and they got up on us" Johnstown coach Neil Cobaugh said. "They are a good basketball team. Leahey is a tremendous player. We talked all week in practice and before the game that we need to get off to a good start and come out with energy, and if we do that, we can control the tempo of this game."
Myers added 11 points for Penn Cambria. Johnstown was led by Dwight Andrews' 27 points.
PENN CAMBRIA (59): Behe 4 0-0 8, Mardula 0 0-0 0, Leahey 10 0-0 28, Keagy 0 0-2 2, Lawhead 2 3-4 7 Jo. Meyers 4 0-0 11, Schwaderer 0 1-2 1, Bastian 0 2-2 2, Hile 1 0-0 2, Conrad 0 0-0 0, Tsikalas 0 0-0 0, Ju. Myers 0 0-0 0, George 0 0-0 0, Kost 0 0-0 0. Totals - 21 6-10 59.
JOHNSTOWN (84): Watson 6 1-4 14, Madison 4 4-4 15, D. Andrews 12 1-4 27, A. Williams 10 0-2 20, Fields 1 0-0 2, Dam. Barfield 1 0-0 3, Subich 0 1-2 1, Dan. Barfield 1 0-0 2, Lanzendorfer 0 0-0 0, P. Williams 0 0-0 0, Brinkley 0 0-0 0. Totals - 35 7-16 84.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Penn Cambria11 9 25 14 - 59
Johnstown 24 17 20 23 - 84
3-point field goals: Penn Cambria 11 (Leahey 8, Jo. Myers 3); Greater Johnstown 7 (Madison 3, D. Andrews 2, Watson, Dam. Burfield).
Records: Penn Cambria (16-6); Greater Johnstown (21-2)