PC girls finally solve CC

EBENSBURG — With Penn Cambria senior guard Lexi Strasser only needing 15 points for 1,000, the Lady Panthers never lost sight of the most important objective — beating their rival Central Cambria.

A mature approach resulted in the Panthers finding open teammates on the offensive end, no matter who it may have been. Junior Makalyn Clapper stepped to the forefront to score a game-high 25 points.

Penn Cambria feasted on turnovers and capitalized at the charity stripe to end a seven-game losing streak to the Red Devils with a 61-55 victory at Central Cambria High School.

“It’s great revenge because they beat us the first time. Now we finally beat them,” Clapper said. “It was a high-intense game. We got a bunch of rebounds this time and were hustling a lot more than we did the first time.”

Avenging a 58-53 loss on Jan. 10 improved the Panthers to 11-9 overall and 3-5 in the rugged Laurel Highlands Conference Section 1.

It was PC’s first win over their Route 22 rivals since Jan. 29, 2014.

Penn Cambria forced 22 turnovers and went 23-33 from the foul line, compared to Central Cambria’s 9-25 mark. Junior Emmy Harvey joined

Clapper finished in double digits with 11 points.

“It was a total team effort, both sides of the floor. For the most part, we didn’t beat ourselves. We made the key free throws down the stretch and that was the difference in the ball game,” Penn Cambria coach Keith Saleme said.

Strasser finished with nine points and is now six points away from becoming the first Lady Panther to reach the coveted milestone since 1994.

In a tight game throughout consisting of eight lead changes and five ties, Central Cambria appeared to be playing too fast at times and coughed up the ball in key situations.

“I felt like we panicked. I’m not really sure what happened. It seemed like we were just making really stupid passes,” Central Cambria coach Brittany Sedlock said. “We were being a little bit too unselfish instead of dribbling it ourselves. We were trying to make that extra pass, which isn’t there against an aggressive team like Penn Cambria.

Those turnovers really killed us.”

The Lady Red Devils had four players finish in double figures, led by lone senior Abbie Young’s 14 points on senior night. McKenna Hayward produced 11 points while both Jenna Bauer (10 rebounds) and Paige Wess tallied 10 points.

Central Cambria led by as much as 10 but settled for a 19-12 lead after the first.

Four different Panthers scored during an 8-0 spurt to begin the second to lead 20-19. Two Madison Grove jumpers sparked an 8-2 run as the visitors outscored CC in the second by a 18-10 margin. PC held on to a 30-29 halftime edge.

“We weren’t trying to pick one person out. We kept sharing the ball, which worked really well,” Clapper said of not feeding the ball to

Strasser subconsciously. “So we just stuck with the game plan.”

Considering the Panthers only have one senior in its regular rotation, not forcing the issue spoke volumes.

“Our girls did a great job of running the offense. The 1,000 point milestone is going to come eventually,” Saleme said. “It doesn’t matter whether if it was tonight or not. It sets up for a perfect senior night for her to go over 1,000 (on Wednesday against Cambria Heights). The girls stuck to what we work on every day in practice — if a girl is open, they got to take the open shot.”

Clapper scored the first five points in the third, but later went to the bench after picking up her third foul. Central Cambria later answered with seven straight points, but PC led 44-41 after three.

In the fourth, an early Bauer bucket brought the Red Devils within 44-43. But the fourth was largely decided at the free throw line.

Central Cambria went 4-13 while Penn Cambria made 11-of-18.

“Down the stretch, we couldn’t hit our free throws, which also killed us,” Sedlock said.

Clapper, who scored 10 points in the fourth as part of PC’s 17-14 advantage, netted four straight points to go up 55-47 with 2:51 to go.

The junior went 6-8 from the foul line in the fourth. Central Cambria later pulled within 59-55 with 15 seconds to go. Strasser made both free throws to effectively end it.

PENN CAMBRIA (61): Harvey 3 5-10 11, Strasser 2 3-4 9, McCarthy 2 1-2 5, Guzic 1 3-4 5, Clapper 6 11-13 25, Hockenos 1 0-0 2, Grove 2 0-0 4, Saleme 0 0-0 0, Davis 0 0-0 0. Totals – 17 23-33 61.

CENTRAL CAMBRIA (55): Wess 3 4-8 10, Young 5 2-3 14, Hayward 4 1-2 11, Bauer 5 0-6 10, Bezek 2 0-1 4, Lockard 1 1-1 3, Bopp 1 1-4 3, Kudlawiec 0 0-0 0. Totals – 21 9-25 55.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Penn Cambria 12 18 14 17 – 61

Central Cambria 19 10 12 14 – 55

3-point field goals: Penn Cambria 4 (Clapper 2, Strasser 2); Central Cambria 4 (Hayward 2, Young 2).

Records: Penn Cambria (11-9, 3-5 LHAC Section 1): Central Cambria (13-6, 3-4 LHAC Section 1).

Officials: Don Bachota, Dave Deibert, Charlie Fox.

JV: Penn Cambria, 47-40. High scorers-Lora Davis, PC, 18; Kiersten Szpala, CC, 14.

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