EBENSBURG - Entering Thursday's District 6-8 AAA semifinal with Forest Hills, the Huntingdon Lady Bearcats and first-year coach Amanda Easter weren't all that familiar with the Lady Rangers' squad, as the two teams are from different conferences.
Huntingdon found out just what Forest Hills brings to the table. Fast.
After coming out in a full court press, the Lady Rangers were able to wreak havoc on Huntingdon's rhythm, allowing just two Lady Bearcat field goals on five attempts in the first quarter as Huntingdon fell, 74-25, at Central Cambria High School.
"All year we had difficulties with [the full-court press]," Easter said. "I knew they scouted us a couple times so they knew. I thought we were prepared and ready to go, but obviously that wasn't the case"
It turned out that the press was just one of the problems that Forest Hills presented, along with cousins Casey and Caitlin Gallaher.
The Gallaher duo went on a 13-0 run in the first quarter, propelling the Lady Rangers to a big lead after the first, 19-4.
Eight of those points came directly off of turnovers caused by Forest Hills' defensive pressure.
Senior guard Casey Gallaher led all scorers with 27 points, while junior guard Caitlin Gallaher added 19.
"They had mostly all of their points [29 of 37] at halftime," Easter said. "I give them credit. They out-worked us, out-hustled us and just wanted it more."
Huntingdon senior and leading scorer Tara Smith alluded to the challenges Forest Hills presented.
"We couldn't get open," Smith said. "They made it very difficult to pass."
Smith led the team with 14 points, Sierra Shoemaker added six and Bri Rivello had five to round out the Lady Bearcats' scoring.
The Lady Bearcats held their own throughout the second and third quarters until Forest Hills went on a 16-0 run that stretched from late in the third and into the fourth quarter to seal the game.
Despite the loss, Easter is proud of the effort that her team gave all the way to the final buzzer.
"They never gave up," Easter said. "It's our biggest loss of the season. It's definitely hard to swallow."
Forest Hills will move on to face Ligonier Valley on Saturday for the District 6-8 AAA championship at 1 p.m. at St. Francis University, while Huntingdon's season came to an end.
Smith and Shoemaker, along with five other Lady Bearcat seniors, will not return next season.
"It's hard to replace [the seniors]," Easter said. "They were always willing to work and did what I asked. I'm very proud of the people they are."
"It was great working with them," Smith said. "I'm going to miss it."
HUNTINGDON (25): Smith 4 4-6 14, Rivello 2 1-2 5, Shoemaker 2 2-4 6, Cunningham 0 0-0 0, Hawn 0 0-0 0, Henney 0 0-0 0, Felton 0 0-0 0, Kurtz 0 0-0 0, DeArmitt 0 0-0 0, Campbell 0 0-0 0, McCrum 0 0-0 0, Mansberger 0 0-0 0. Totals-8 7-12 25.
FOREST HILLS (74): Cas. Gallaher 9 8-9 27, Cai. Gallaher 7 1-2 19, Zubek 2 0-0 4, Meier 4 0-2 8, Scott 5 0-0 12, Swanson 2 0-0 4, Richards 0 0-0 0, Walls 0 0-0 0, Peretin 0 0-0 0, Novotny 0 0-0 0. Totals-29 9-12 74.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Huntingdon4 9 10 2 - 25
Forest Hills19 18 17 20 - 74
3-point goals: Huntingdon 2 (Smith 2); Forest Hills 6 (Cai. Gallaher 4, Scott 2, Cas. Gallaher).
Team records: Huntingdon (13-10); Forest Hills (18-4).