HOLLIDAYSBURG - Northern Cambria simply ran out of gas in the second half of its PIAA Class A first-round boys basketball playoff game against VisionQuest Friday night at the Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School.
But VisionQuest's speed and athleticism no doubt had a lot to do with that.
VisionQuest fashioned a 40-12 edge in overall rebounds and forced 19 Northern Cambria turnovers while sidelining the Colts from the playoffs, 72-50.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Northern Cambria’s Adam Polites drives to the bucket during Friday’s loss.
Ahead by just one point, 37-36, late in the third quarter, VisionQuest put together a 13-5 run to build a 50-41 lead after three quarters.
VisionQuest, a third-place finisher out of District 10, improved to 14-9 and moves on to the second round of the playoffs next Tuesday against District 7 Vincentian at a site to be named. Northern Cambria, which won the District 6 championship, closed its season with a 20-6 record.
Senior forward Darrian Brown scored a game-high 24 points, junior guard Nasir Mitchell added 14, and senior guard Curtis Gibbs came off the bench to score 12 for VisionQuest, which took control of the game in the final minutes of the third quarter.
"For whatever reason, it felt like we lost our energy and got extremely tired in the third quarter,'' Northern Cambria coach Dan Weber said. "We were able to get into an offensive flow in the first half, but our shots weren't falling in the second half.''
With VisionQuest holding its 37-36 lead, junior forward Derrick Rollins got the winners on a roll with a field goal, and Mitchell added a pair of fielders - polishing off a fast break for the first and driving through the lane for the second. Senior guard Dominique Henderson added a steal and layup to put VisionQuest ahead, 50-41 as the third quarter ended.
"Their 40-12 advantage in rebounding tells it all,'' Weber said. "Coming into the game, my biggest concerns were rebounding and turnover margin. I thought we'd need to be within 10 on the plus-minus [ratio] in rebounding to win this game.''
Once VisionQuest pulled out ahead, the momentum turned in its favor for good.
"Things started to snowball,'' Weber said. "While we were hitting our down spurt, they were playing to a level that we weren't ready for.''
VisionQuest led only 33-32 at halftime, but carried the third quarter, 17-9, and controlled the fourth period, 22-9.
"We play hard and try to force a lot of turnovers, and we were able to do that in the second half,'' VisionQuest coach Richard Gordon said. "I told our guys to try to push the ball up the floor in the second half. We played our brand of basketball in the second half, and we came together as a team.''
Brown had 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers, as VisionQuest put the game out of Northern Cambria's reach.
Northern Cambria, which starts five juniors and played them all almost the entire game, got 16 points from Adam Polites and 11 apiece from Jeff Hogan and Nick Lee.
The Colts had the better of things throughout the first half before VisionQuest dominated the second.
Weber is looking forward to having his entire starting five return next winter.
"We get to come back and do this over again next year,'' Weber said. "We made memories along the way this year, but with all five [starters] back, I can't wait until next year.''
VISIONQUEST (72): Mitchell 5 3-4 14, Brown 10 2-2 24, Lloyd 0 0-0 0, Rollins 3 0-0 7, Roberson 3 0-2 6, Gibbs 5 0-0 12, Henderson 2 0-0 5, Dickey 2 0-0 4, Amore 0 0-0 0, Taylor 0 0-0 0. Totals - 30 5-8 72.
NORTHERN CAMBRIA (50): Bearer 2 3-4 8, Bonatesta 2 0-0 4, Polites 6 1-4 16, N. Lee 5 1-1 11, Hogan 4 1-1 11, Hartman 0 0-0 0, Z. Lee 0 0-0 0, Bowman 0 0-0 0, Eckenrode 0 0-0 0, Olish 0 0-0 0. Totals - 19 6-10 50.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
VisionQuest14 19 17 22 - 72
Northern Cambria19 13 9 9 - 50
3-point goals: VisionQuest 7 (Brown 2, Gibbs 2, Henderson, Rollins, Mitchell); Northern Cambria 6 (Polites 3, Hogan 2, Bearer).
Records: VisionQuest (14-9); Northern Cambria (20-6).
Officials: John Thompson, Jeff Heider, Steve Searer.