EBENSBURG - While neither coach was sure if the shot was in time, and both coaches disagreed on its importance, an off-balance three pointer by Brandon Martinazzi at the end of the first half changed the momentum for both Bishop Carroll and Central Cambria in the title game of the County Seat tournament at Central Cambria High School.
Martinazzi's shot came off a scramble with time running out in the first half. The ball rolled out to the top of the three point arc after both teams fought for the ball under the basket. Martinazzi grabbed the ball and tossed it at the basket close to the sound of the first half horn. The ball went into the basket, cutting Central Cambria's halftime lead to 25-24.
The Huskies came out of the locker room with and quickly took control of the game. They opened the second half with a 10-2 run to open up a seven point lead, and controlled the game the rest of the way. Bishop Carroll made 11 of 14 free throws in the final quarter to secure the County Seat Tournament title with a 59-50 victory over Central Cambria.
"I'm not sure if that [Martinazzi's three pointer] sparked us, or if my halftime speech sparked us," said Bishop Carroll head coach Cosie Aliquo. "I don't even know if the shot before halftime was good. I won't even know until I look at. What sparked us is that we came out in the third quarter and we got bucket, and we got a couple of steals. That put us up to seven, and that sparked us. Then Marcus started to attack the basket, and we got some buckets off of that."
Bishop Carroll only held one lead, 11-10 early in the second quarter, before they took the lead for good on a Scott Ranck bucket with 6:47 left in the third quarter. Ranck followed that with a layup that pushed the lead to three points. A Lee reverse layup and a foul line jumper by Ranck capped the Huskies 10-2 run to start the second half, and forced the Red Devils to take a timeout trailing 34-27.
Central Cambria made a run late in the quarter, and cut the Bishop Carroll lead to 38-35 on a Gino Tsikalas layup with 36 left in the third frame. However, Martinazzi made a layup, then stole the inbounds pass and made another layup in a couple of second span to push the lead to 42-35 with eight minutes to play.
Both teams traded points early in the fourth quarter before the Huskies used a 7-0 run midway in the final frame to push their lead to a game high 13 points, at 53-40. Bishop Carroll then secured the win at the free throw line, making 11-14 foul shots in the final quarter to earn the 59-50 win.
"That's something that we do in practice a little more now than we have in the past, is practice foul shots," said Aliquo. "I always tell our guys it comes down that at end of the game. We have five guys out there shooting with confidence."
Central Cambria actually had the better of the play in the first half. The Red Devils twice held a four point lead in the first quarter before taking a 10-9 lead after eight minutes of play. After seeing the Huskies take their only lead of the first half, 11-10, on a Ranck basket, the Red Devils quickly regained the lead, and slowly built it over the rest of the half. A Tsikalas basket with 2:29 left in the half gave Central Cambria them a five point lead at 20-15. Martinazzi immediately responded with a three pointer, but Ambrisco answered with a trey of his own to push the lead back to five, at 23-18. The lead was four points before Martinazzi threw in his off-balance three pointer at the end of the half to cut the Red Devils lead to 25-24 at intermission.
"It was a huge momentum changer," said Central Cambria head coach Adam Stephan of Martinazzi's three pointer. "I'm not sure it was on time, but they called it good and it was a huge momentum swing at halftime. Instead of going in with a four point lead we go in only up one. We kind of got a little out of sync in the second half. We weren't attacking the way we were in the first half, and we weren't moving the ball with confidence like we did in the first half."
Blairsville took the consolation game in a very physical contest. The Bobcats jumped out to an 18-8 lead after one quarter, and pushed their margin to 16 points early in the second quarter. However, some physical play on both sides led to a combined 14 foul shots in the second frame. Penns Manor took advantage and closed the half on a 13-5 run that cut the Blairsville lead to eight points at intermission.
Penns Manor was able to cut the lead to two points early in the second half, but Blairsville recomposed themselves, and pushed the lead back to seven points by the end of the third quarter. They outscored the Comets 15-12 in the final frame to win the consolation game 62-52.
GAME NOTES: Central Cambria alumnus and Penn State quarterback Shane McGregor, along with Cambria County Commissioner Tom Chernisky, handed out the team and individual trophies after the title game. The All Tournament Team consisted of: Casey Jewart of Penns Manor, Troy Williams of Blairsville, Scott Holsinger and Tanner Ambrisco of Central Cambria, and Scott Ranck of Bishop Carroll. Brandon Martinazzi, who scored 50 points in the tournament, 26 of them in the title game, was named the tournament MVP.
CENTRAL CAMBRIA (50): Seymour 1 0-1 2, Bowman 1 0-0 2, Holsinger 5 4-10 14, Hodgson 3 0-0 7, Ambrisco 7 4-4 21, Tsikalas 2 0-0 4, Homan 0 0-0 0, Berzonsky 0 0-0 0, Magley 0 0-0 0, Leary 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 8-15 50.
BISHOP CARROLL (59): Madonna 1 3-5 5, Martinazzi 8 7-8 26, Lee 4 2-2 10, Maruca 0 0-2 0, Ranck 6 2-2 14, Sukinos 1 0-0 2, Lucas 1 0-0 2, Shuty 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 14-19 59.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central Cambria10 15 10 15-50
Bishop Carroll9 15 18 17-59
3-point field goals: Central Cambria 4 (Ambrisco 3, Hodgson); Bishop Carroll 3 (Martinazzi 3).
Records: Central Cambria (2-7); Bishop Carroll (5-2).
PENNS MANOR (52): Hamilton 5 0-0 11, Kowalski 3 2-2 8, Rizzo 3 0-0 6, Horwat 0 3-4 3, Jewart 5 2-3 12, Tomayko 2 1-1 5, Alter 0 1-2 1, Foreback 0 0-0 0, Sink 0 0-0 0, Carrick 3 0-0 6. Totals 21 9-13 52.
BLAIRSVILLE (62): Helm 5 2-2 13, Ratkus 2 1-4 5, A. Horchar 2 0-0 4, R. Horchar 5 0-1 11, Williams 6 1-2 13, Sisitki 2 0-0 4, Faulk 1 1-3 3, McMillan 1 4-7 6, Rydbom 0 2-4 2, Henderson 0 1-2 1. Totals 24 12-25 62.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Penns Manor8 15 17 12 - 52
Blairsville18 13 16 15 - 62
3-point field goals: Penns Manor 1 (Hamilton); Blairsville 2 (Helm, R. Horchar).
Records: Penns Manor (0-7); Blairsville (5-5).