Central PA boys make history in win
CRESSON – At halftime, Penn Cambria’s A.J. Leahey knew he was closing in on Ian Vescovi’s Mirror Classic boys rebound record of 14. The problem was that Vescovi’s brother, Isaac, had designs on it, as well.
But the younger Vescovi deferred to his Central PA teammate.
“He told me I had nine,” Leahey said with a smile. “He told me he wanted me to break it.”
They both got their wish when Leahey pulled down his 15th board with 9:07 left. It was that kind of night – a night for setting new standards.
The Central PA boys all-stars didn’t come into Friday night’s eighth annual Mirror Classic with not just one goal in mind, but several. They managed that in not only winning but smashing the record for points in a 144-85 romp over the Blair County seniors at the Mount Aloysius College Health and Physical Fitness Center.
“The most important goal was to win. But our coach [Northern Bedford’s Barry Crawford] said we had to get 36 points in every quarter to get the record,” said Bishop Carroll’s Scott Ranck, who netted 15 to be one of 10 Central PA players to score in double figures. “Coach wanted us to push the ball.”
Leahey led the regional stars with 17 points in addition to his 17 rebounds and four blocked shots, but Johnstown’s Phillip Madison took home MVP honors for Central PA with 15 points and five steals. Northern Cambria’s Adam Polites tossed in 16 points for the victors.
Bellwood-Antis’ Noah Davis led all scorers with 19 points on his way to being voted most valuable player for the Blair squad. Altoona’s DeShae Lee chipped in with 17 points, but no other Blair star finished with more than eight.
The game actually was just an eight-point difference at the halftime after Altoona’s Matt Dry connected on a pair of free throws with six seconds left in the second quarter for Blair County. Central PA, though, carried the third quarter, 41-15, and Blair never could recover, as it shot 14-for-52 in the second half and made just 2-of-21 from 3-point range.
“We were doing well. We were hitting shots. We were hitting the open man,” Davis said. “Then our legs got tired, and we weren’t making the shots we needed. It was tough. And they have a high-powered offense, too.”
In the next eight minutes, Central PA’s eight-point advantage ballooned to 29. Eleven of 12 Central PA players scored in the third quarter – only Leahey, the first-team all-state player, did not.
“We just came out on fire. Jake Close made a couple 3s. We were all making shots, and they were struggling from the field,” Leahey said. “We just were clicking.”
With Blair County not hitting and Leahey and company controlling the glass, Central PA was able to impose its tempo.
“We just got out and ran,” said Vescovi, the Cambria Heights star who scored 14 points. “We knew our five players could beat their five players.”
Madison scored 10 in the second half, when Central PA put 85 points on the board.
“It feels good to win the MVP, because I was on a team where everybody scored a thousand points,” the 5-foot-7 Madison said. “It was good being able to stand out a little bit, being the smallest guy out there.”
Lee had nine points in the first quarter as Blair County actually jumped out to a 16-6 lead.
“I was just looking to have one last run, since I missed half of the season [with a broken wrist]. I just wanted to go out there and make a statement,” said Lee, who had a couple of dunks but was woozy after the game after getting stepped on when he fell to the floor on a blocked shot attempt. “I just wanted to make a name for myself.”
The biggest thing, though, was for the players to have fun and put on a show. Vescovi thought that mission was accomplished, too.
“It was a lot of fun,” Vescovi said. “It was a good way to go out.”
CENTRAL PA (144): Kanaskie 4-6 1-1 10, Ranck 6-8 2-2 15, Renninger 5-14 0-0 11, Vescovi 6-9 0-0 14, Fisher 5-8 0-2 10, Madison 6-16 0-0 15, Fyock 2-4 0-0 5, Cesarz 5-9 0-0 10, Leahey 7-11 0-0 18, Close 4-5 0-0 12, Polites 6-11 0-0 16, Pressel 3-8 1-4 8. Totals – 59-109 4-9 144.
BLAIR COUNTY (85): Davis 8-18 0-0 19, Drenning 2-10 0-0 5, Dry 1-10 5-6 8, Lee 7-14 3-4 17, Ottaway 3-12 0-0 8, Irwin 2-5 0-0 5, Urban 1-3 1-2 3, Fay 3-13 0-0 8, Lytle 1-3 0-0 2, Dishong 1-6 0-0 3, Wyland 1-1 0-0 2, Patterson 2-5 1-2 5. Totals – 32-100 10-14 85.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central PA27 33 41 43-144
Blair County26 26 15 18- 85
3-point goals: Central PA 21-43 (Kanaskie 1-1, Ranck 1-2, Renninger 1-6, Vescovi 2-3, Fisher 0-3, Madison 3-9, Fyock 1-1, Cesarz 0-2, Leahey 3-4, Close 4-5 Polites 4-5, Pressel 1-2); Blair County 11-42 (Davis 3-4, Drenning 1-6, Dry 1-3, Lee 0-2, Ottaway 2-6, Irwin 1-3, Urban 0-1, Fay 2-9, Lytle 0-2, Dishong 1-6). Rebounds: Central PA 60 (Leahey 17); Blair County 45 (Davis, Irwin 6). Assists: Central PA 24 (Renninger 8); Blair County 17 (Davis, Drenning, Irwin, Lytle 3 ). Total fouls: Central PA 12, Blair County 6. Technical foul-Ranck. A-900. Officials: Clark Adelman, Mike Andrews, Jim Buchanan.