PORTAGE - After leading most of the game, the Penn Cambria girls basketball team saw Portage make a fourth-quarter run to cut the Panthers lead to two points on numerous occasions.
However, the Panthers never panicked. They relied on their senior leadership. Kaitlyn Krug hit a key layup and two free throws in the final minute of the game, and Tori Shingler made the game clinching layup as Penn Cambria claimed the 20th annual Art Burkett Tournament title with a 46-41 victory.
"Our seniors really wanted it," Penn Cambria coach Rodger Fair said. "They lost two years in a row in the championship game, and they really wanted it pretty badly. We got a little gassed there in the third quarter, and I was a little leary about how we were going to hold up, and they kind of found a second wind, so I credit them."
Both teams played strong defense, which kept the offenses bottled up until the final quarter. The Panthers took a 30-26 lead into the final frame. They built a five-point lead on two different occasions, but Portage had an answer each time.
The Mustangs hit five 3-pointers in the quarter, allowing them to keep the game close. Lexi Wozniak's third 3-pointer of the frame cut the lead to 44-41 with 13.5 seconds left in the game. However, after a Portage timeout, Shingler took a long pass at halfcourt and had an uncontested layup when the Mustangs defender fell down to set the final at 46-41.
"If you're a fan of high school basketball, that was one to watch and enjoy," Fair said. "It was back and forth, back and forth. I thought ultimately without having their point guard, who is a 1,000-point scorer, it forced them to play the game that they played. They are real tenacious going for the ball, for smaller kids, so we just had to buckle up, so to speak, and hang in there with them."
Mustangs guard Emily Chobany was injured in the first game of the day against Northern Cambria, and was not able to play against Penn Cambria. The Panthers were also able to bottle up the Mustangs other 1,000-point scorer, Olivia McCabe, with a zone defense. McCabe was held to only two baskets and six points in the game.
"It was a great effort by both teams," Portage coach Lance Hudak said. "In the first half, offensively for us it was a lot of work to get open shots. They are a tall, long team and they really spread out that zone and made it difficult for our guards to see passing lanes at times. They baited some passes that we thought were there, but really weren't. Against a tall team like that, we are at a disadvantage, because we are not an overall tall team."
Krug led the Lady Panthers with 14 points, and Shingler added 11. Wozniak netted 18 points on her six 3-pointers for the Mustangs. She was the only Portage player in double figures.
Portage advanced to the title game with a 53-13 victory over Northern Cambria in the first game of the day. The Mustangs held the Colts scoreless for the entire first quarter, jumping out to a 14-0 lead after eight minutes. The lead swelled to 30-4 at the half, and the Mustangs got to rest their players in the second half for the title game.
Despite the lopsided victory, the Mustangs struggled to find their shooting range in the opening game. They missed a number of open shots, and shots under the basket as well. Chobany scored 10 of her game-high 14 points in the first half, and McCabe added 12 points. Many of McCabe's points came on putbacks of missed outside shots. Katie Nolan added 10 points, including two 3-point baskets in the second quarter.
The Colts managed only five baskets in the game. Sam Rocco came off the bench to lead them in scoring with five points. Alyssa Walters added four points in the loss.
Northern Cambria won the consolation game, 53-42, over Purchase Line. The Colts held a slim 23-19 lead at halftime, but used a 9-2 run in the third quarter to push the lead to double digits. However, the Red Dragons made a run of their own, and cut the lead to one point early in the fourth quarter. The game then came down to free throws.
The Colts made 9 of 13 foul shots in the final frame, including for consecutive at one point. Purchase Line struggled at the line in the final eight minutes, going 4 of 15 from the line. When the dust had settled, the Colts earned a hard fought 11 point win and the third place trophy.
"I thought we had a little lapse in the second half," Northern Cambria coach Tony Delfonso said. "We were up by 13, and they cut it to four. I thought foul shooting was the difference. We were able to extend the lead a little bit. I thought defensively at times we looked good, and had some lapses, but we have a young group. We only have one starter back and a couple of lettermen. I give our kids a lot of credit. I thought we hung in there with two games almost back to back."
Tournament notes: Trina Vargo, Stacy Alexander, Angie Kostan, Breanna Shope, Natalie Kittell, McCabe and Chobany were honored before the championship game as the 1,000-point career scorers in Portage girls basketball history. Five of the seven were in attendance. ... Anissa Delfonso of Northern Cambria, Paisley Zatek and Lexi Wozniak of Portage, and Tori Shingler and Megan Wheeler of Penn Cambria were named to the All Tournament Team. Krug was named Tournament MVP.
PENN CAMBRIA (46): Krug 5 4-5 14, Shingler 5 1-2 11, Vincent 1 0-0 2, Little 0 0-0 0, Wheeler 3 0-0 6, Strittmatter 3 1-2 8, Audley 0 0-0 0, Link 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 9-13 46.
PORTAGE (41): Wozniak 6 0-0 18, Nolan 2 0-0 5, Zatek 3 0-0 8, C. Jubina 1 0-0 2, O. McCabe 2 2-3 6, K. Jubina 0 0-0 0, A. Chobany 1 0-0 2, Baker 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 2-3 41.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Penn Cambria13 9 816 - 46
Portage11 8 7 15 - 41
3-point field goals: Penn Cambria 1 (Strittmatter); Portage 6 (Wozniak 6, Zatek 2).
Records: Penn Cambria (2-0); Portage (1-1).
NORTHERN CAMBRIA (13): Sedlock 1 0-0 2, Strong 0 0-0 0, Delfonso 0 0-0 0, Baum 0 0-0 0, Walters 2 0-0 4, Peles 1 0-0 2, Rocco 2 0-0 5, Phillips 0 0-0 0, Lieb 0 0-0 0. Totals 5 0-0 13.
PORTAGE (53): Wozniak 1 0-0 2, Nolan 4 0-0 10, Zatek 0 0-0 0, E. Chobany 5 4-7 14, O. McCabe 4 4-4 12, A. Chobany 3 0-0 7, C. Jubina 0 0-0 0, K. Jubina 1 0-0 2, Baker 0 1-2 1, Crum 0 0-0 0, L. McCabe 0 0-2 2, Caurvina 1 0-0 3, Barton 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 9-15 53.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Northern Cambria0 4 2 7- 13
Portage14 16 14 9-53
3-point field goals: Northern Cambria 1 (Rocco); Portage 4 (Nolan 2, Chobany, Caurvina).
Records: Northern Cambria (0-1); Portage (1-0).
NORTHERN CAMBRIA (53): Sedlock 3 7-8 13, Strong 1 4-4 7, Delfonso 6 1-3 13, Baum 0 6-8 6, Walters 2 1-4 5, Peles 2 3-6 7, Rocco 0 0-2 0, Phillips 0 2-4 2. Totals 14 24-39 53.
PURCHASE LINE (42): Bi. Riva 1 1-2 3, Fleming 1 3-4 5, Al. Goodlin 3 6-9 12, McCoy 3 0-0 6, Stover 0 4-6 4, Br. Riva 3 0-0 6, As. Goodlin 0 0-0 0, McCullough 3 0-9 6, Abrams 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 14-30 42.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Northern Cambria7 16 15 15-53
Purchase Line8 11 15 8-42