EBENSBURG - Teams playing the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic high school girls basketball squad in the District 6 playoffs the last six years have had about as much of a chance to win as if they entered the Powerball drawing.
No one knows that as much as Conemaugh Valley, which lost to the Lady Marauders in the playoffs for the third straight year, 61-32, Tuesday night at Central Cambria High School.
"It's just like any other year we've played them," Conemaugh Valley coach Teri Cruse said. "This group of juniors BG has have been playing together for a long time and have had a lot of playing time since they were freshmen. They added some good players inside, and that made their team even stronger.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
BG’s Halee Adams drives on Conemaugh?Valley’s Abby Menett.
"It's kind of hard to compete with that. Their first six people are just so good. You try and pick weaknesses, and someone else capitalizes on what you're trying to do."
Bishop Guilfoyle led 20-2 after the first quarter and was never challenged while advancing to Saturday's District 6 Class A championship against Homer-Center. That game, a rematch from last season's title tilt, will be at DeGol Arena at 2 p.m.
The Lady Marauders scored at will in the first half. Kayla Bates led all scorers in the half with 13, and in the game with 17.
"I knew that when we were without Halee [Adams] earlier in the year, I had to step up as a leader on the team," Bates said. "I started to shoot a lot more, because as a leader, I wanted to step up."
Bates scored BG's final nine points of the first half, including a pair of free throws with 0.2 seconds left, and the Lady Marauders took a 36-8 lead into the locker room. Bates finished 7-for-7 from the line.
"Kayla has improved immensely defensively," Bishop Guilfoyle coach Mark Moschella said. "I know how hard she's worked on her offensive game too in the offseason. She does a great job handling the basketball, and really she's developed a great outside shot."
Bishop Guilfoyle stretched its lead to as many as 35 in the second half before Conemaugh Valley put together a string of field goals against the Lady Marauders' bench in the fourth quarter. The Lady Blue Jays got 11 points, including three 3-pointers, from Carly Gruss.
"It's a great feeling every year to be going back to the district championship," Bates said. "We know that we can never take anything for granted, and we work really hard for everything we do."
Adams scored 15 points despite sitting out parts of the game with foul trouble. Courtney Becker added 10 points and nine rebounds inside for the Lady Marauders.
"Offensively, we were finding players for high-percentage shots," Moschella said. "I really thought we were ready to play defense tonight. That was a pretty nice combination to start the game."
Bishop Guilfoyle forced 11 of Conemaugh Valley's 15 turnovers in the first half and outrebounded the Lady Blue Jays, 35-25 for the game.
"Our teams trusts each other out on the floor," Moschella said. "They communicate really well with each other, and I just can't ask for anything more than them playing like that as one unit."
CONEMAUGH VALLEY (32): Menett 2 0-0 4, McCallay 1 0-0 2, Pollino 0 0-0 0, Cekada 1 4-4 6, Gruss 3 2-2 11, Hody 1 0-0 2, McCray 0 0-0 0, Smith 0 0-0 0, Glass 0 2-2 2, Stiffler 0 0-0 0, Angus 1 0-0 3, Roles 1 0-0 2. Totals - 10 8-8 32.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (61): H. Adams 6 3-4 15, Ehredt 3 0-0 6, Bates 5 7-7 17, Stessney 2 1-2 5, Becker 4 2-3 10, Boslet 1 0-0 2, Meck 0 0-0 0, Bender 2 1-2 6, Craig 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, Luciano 0 0-0 0. Totals - 23 14-18 61.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Conemaugh Valley2 6 6 18 - 32
Bishop Guilfoyle20 16 11 14 - 61
3-point goals: Conemaugh Valley 4 (Gruss 3, Angus); Bishop Guilfoyle 1 (Bender).
Records: Conemaugh Valley (17-7); Bishop Guilfoyle (22-2).
Officials: Chuck Glasser, Greg Sipos, Doug Steve.