Northern Bedford and Central Cambria saw different results in the opening round of the Mountain Cat Tournament at UPJ. The Panthers earned a hard fought victory over Conemaugh Township, while the Red Devils lost to Shade in the opening game of the evening.
The Panthers saw an 11 point early fourth quarter lead shrink to one point with just over two minutes left in the game. However, Northern Bedford closed the game on a 9-2 run to grab a spot in the title game with a 61-53 victory over the Indians.
"We go eight deep, and we don't drop off too much at number eight," said Northern Bedford head coach Barry Crawford. "That's pretty rare, so we can keep people moving up and down the floor pretty good. This is a bigger floor. Most teams aren't used to the bigger floor. I think that late in the game we work them down, from the mid third quarter to the end of the game. It looked like we had a better step than they did. They had to press, and it takes a lot of energy to come back when you are down. They had to exert a lot of energy pressing."
Township closed the gap in the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run over a five minute span early in the fourth quarter. Jeff Fisher capped the run with a steal and layup to cut the Panthers lead to 52-51 with 2:12 left in the game. Following a Northern Bedford timeout, Zane Snyder scored and added the free throw, then added another basket to push the lead back to 57-51. The Panthers hit four of six free throws in the final minute to secure the victory.
The first half of the game was back and forth. The Indians held the lead for most of the first quarter, with their largest cushion reaching six points at 15-9. However, Northern Bedford closed the frame on a 7-2 run, punctuated by a dunk by Tayler Pressel and putback by Zachary Pressel just before the buzzed than gave the Panthers a 16-15 lead after eight minutes.
Just as they did in the first quarter, Township had the better of the play in the early part of the second quarter, and grabbed a 29-24 lead with 2:16 left in the half. Northern Bedford responded, though, with another late quarter streak. They outscored the Indians 7-0 to finish the half, and went back in to the lead at halftime with a three pointer by Blake Over at the buzzer that sent the Panthers into the half with a 31-29 lead.
Northern Bedford outscored Township 17-10 in the third frame to take what seemed like a comfortable nine point lead, 48-39, lead going into the final quarter, before the Indians made their fourth quarter run.
Zachary Pressel led all scorers with 17 points, while Kyler Diehl and Zane Snyder both chipped in 14 points each to propel the Panthers into the title game against Shade.
"We will have our hands full," said Crawford of the Panthers, who defeated Central Cambria 56-44 in the opening game of the evening. "They are a nice ball club. (Ryan) Fyock is a very good ball player, and the Walker boy is pretty tough. You saw tonight what they did to Central Cambria, so we'll have our hands full, but we'll come and play. We came with the goal to compete, and we'll do that. Our kids will enjoy the challenge, I think."
Shade punched their ticket to the title game with a 12 point victory over the Red Devils. After a back and forth opening quarter that saw five lead changes and two ties, the Panthers took control in the second quarter. They outscored Central Cambria 17-2 in the second frame, turning a two point Red Devils lead into an eight point Panthers cushion at the half.
Central Cambria cut the Shade lead to six points twice in the third quarter, but could not get any closer. Fyock hit a floater to stop one mini Red Devils run, and Nash Walker hit a key three pointer to squash another Red Devils charge. Shade ended the third quarter with a ten point lead, and was never challenged again in route to a 56-44 win.
"The second quarter had been our Achilles heel all year," said Central Cambria head coach Adam Stephan. "I thought we came out and played really hard to begin with, and then in the second quarter we just went flat. We missed three or four layups right at the rim. Then in the second half we had a ten point deficit and we tried to battle back in, and we just aren't deep enough and the guys ran out of gas there toward the end to get back into the game."
Tanner Ambrisco led the Red Devils with 18 points, and Will Seymour contributed 11. However, Seymour only netted three of those points after the first quarter. Fyock led all scorers with 28 points, and Wade Walker added 11 for the victorious Panthers.
Central Cambria will battle Conemaugh Township in the consolation game at 6:00 p.m. The Indians beat the Red Devils 54-44 in the first round of the Ron Davidson Roundball Classic last Friday night. Northern Bedford will play Shade in the title game, following the consolation game.
SHADE (56): Medva 2 0-2 4, W. Walker 5 1-2 11, Fyock 10 5-7 28, Kiser 0 2-2 2, N. Walker 2 3-5 9, Pyles 1 0-0 2, Holland 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 11-18 56.
CENTRAL CAMBRIA (44): Hodgson 0 0-0 0, Ambrisco 7 1-1 18, Holsinger 2 0-2 4, Bowman 3 0-0 7, Seymour 5 1-2 11, Tsikalas 1 0-0 2, Zearing 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 2-5 44.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central Cambria17 21510-44
3-point field goals: Shade 5 (Fyock 3, N. Walker 2); Central Cambria 4 (Ambrisco 3, Bowman 1)
Records: Shade (5-0); Central Cambria (1-4).
NORTHERN BEDFORD (61): England 0 0-0 0, Z. Pressel 7 3-8, 17, Diehl 5 4-4 14, T. Pressel 3 2-2 8, Over 1 1-4 4, Litzenberger 0 2-2 2, Barnes 0 2-4 2, Snyder 6 1-1 14. Totals 22 15-25 61.
CONEMAUGH TOWNSHIP (53): Speigle 1 2-3 5, Boyer 5 1-3 12, Fisher 7 2-2 16, Sotosky 2 4-4 8, Burns 2 3-7 7, Maurer0 0-0 0, Callihan 1 0-0 2, Steeves 0 0-0 0, Formica 1 1-2 3. Totals 19 13-21 53.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
3-point field goals: Northern Bedford 2 (Over, Snyder); Conemaugh Township 2 (Speigle, Boyer)
Records: Northern Bedford (3-0); Conemaugh Township (2-2).