Strasser’s big night leads PC past Heights
CRESSON — All the stars were aligned, as Monday served as a long-awaited night for the Penn Cambria girls basketball program on senior night.
Senior guard Lexi Strasser entered Monday’s Laurel Highlands Conference Section 1 game needing only four points to end a quarter-century drought between 1,000 point female scorers.
A packed crowd witnessed Strasser soar past the coveted milestone in the first quarter. Four Panthers finished in double figures to lead the way in a memorable 73-62 victory as Cambria Heights’ playoff hopes were dashed with the loss.
“Definitely not,” was Strasser’s response when asked if the night could have gone any better. “With a win, it’s perfect. I’m really happy that I got it at home, especially on senior night. I’m just thankful for all the support that I get from everyone, including my family and friends. That’s all I could ask for.”
As luck would have it, Greg Strasser, Lexi’s dad, won the 50-50 drawing to cap off an unforgettable night at Penn Cambria High School.
Strasser became the first Lady Panther to record 1,000 career points since Jennifer Gibbons in 1993.
“It was a pretty awesome night,” Penn Cambria coach Keith Saleme said. “To come and do it on senior night and score 1,000 points, you can’t script it any better than that.”
Juniors Makalyn Clapper and Laken Guzic both scored at least 20 points for Penn Cambria. Clapper (12 rebounds) notched a game-high 21 while Guzic nailed four 3-pointers and ended up with 20. Strasser finished with 16 points on three treys and junior Emmy Harvey added 13 points.
Sophomores Emily Henry and Abby Lobick (five treys) each produced 18 points. Fellow sophomore Chloe Weakland posted a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
“My kids played really hard tonight. We missed a lot of shots that probably would have fell on a different night,” Cambria Heights coach Amber Fees said.
“Penn Cambria’s a great team. I think tonight they had a lot of momentum. This was a tough atmosphere to play in tonight. I think my girls played hard, they handled it well.”
Strasser completed a three-point play just 1:03 into the game to come within one point of 1,000. Cambria Heights scored 10 consecutive points. Penn Cambria was called for a technical foul because six players were on the court. Lobick made both foul shots and a subsequent triple to cap off a five-point possession.
With 1:15 left in the first, Strasser received a transition pass from Madison Grove and finished with a layup to notch points 1,000 and 1,001. Penn Cambria led 15-13 at the time and never relinquished control after that point. Play was stopped for Strasser to celebrate with family members, teammates and coaches.
“It was a relief to get it over with,” said Strasser, who scored 11 combined points in the two preceeding games. “I wasn’t really worried about it. It was more about winning and knocking Cambria Heights out of the playoffs.”
Strasser has improved throughout her career, most notably in her ability to shoot from the perimeter. After making just nine treys her freshman season, she has made 42, 48 and 53 this season, respectively.
“She worked hard on her jump shot. Last time I looked, she was leading the Laurel Highlands in 3-pointers made,” Saleme said. “That just doesn’t happen by accident. That takes a lot of hard work.”
Penn Cambria held a slight 18-16 edge after the first.
A 10-0 Panther surge in the second, combined with Heights’ made field goal drought lasting 7:07 gave Penn Cambria a 31-22 halftime lead.
Guzic produced 10 points as Penn Cambria finished with a 22-19 edge in the third. Heights pulled within six midway through the frame. A late Guzic trey made it 53-41 after three.
Penn Cambria was able to keep at least a 10-point lead in the fourth to hold on to victory.
CAMBRIA HEIGHTS (62): Conrad 0 0-0 0, Lobick 5 3-4 18, K. Weakland 4 0-0 9, C. Weakland 7 1-2 17, Henry 5 7-8 18, Jones 0 0-0 0, McCombie 0 0-0 0, Lansberry 0 0-0 0. Totals – 21 11-14 62.
PENN CAMBRIA (73): Kunsman 0 0-0 0, Harvey 4 3-4 13, Strasser 5 3-3 16, McCarthy 0 1-2 1, Clapper 9 1-2 21, Guzic 7 2-2 20, Hockenos 0 2-4 2, Grove 0 0-0 0, Saleme 0 0-0 0. Totals – 25 12-17 73.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Cambria Heights 16 6 19 21 – 62
Penn Cambria 18 13 22 20 – 73
3-point field goals: Cambria Heights 9 (Lobick 5, C. Weakland 2, Henry, K. Weakland); Penn Cambria 11 (Guzic 4, Strasser 3, Clapper 2, Harvey 2).
Records: Cambria Heights (9-12, 1-9 LHAC Section 1); Penn Cambria (12-10, 4-6 LHAC Section 1).
Officials: Bruno Felus, Mike McDermott, Bill Zamboni.
JV: Penn Cambria, 22-21. High scorers-Maria Weakland, CH, 9; Hannah
Saleme, PC, 10.