Heights clobbers Mo Valley

PATTON — After scuffling to a 6-16 record last season, the Cambria Heights boys basketball team is bound and determined to turn over a new leaf this winter.

“This team is a lot different,” senior guard Liam Wholaver said Wednesday night. “We’re working a lot harder. We’re not laying down. We’re going to put up a fight this year.”

The Highlanders certainly made a statement in their opening-round Cambria Heights Christmas Tournament game Wednesday at Cambria Heights High School.

Led by Wholaver’s 20 points and a potent inside game, Cambria Heights advanced to tonight’s 7 p.m. championship game with a 71-34 thumping of Moshannon Valley.

Heights (3-2) will play Glendale, a 53-43 winner over Northern Cambria in Wednesday’s other first-round game, for the title tonight.

Northern Cambria and Moshannon Valley will meet in the consolation game at 5 p.m.

Cambria Heights led from start to finish against Mo Valley, building a 23-11 lead after one quarter and expanding the advantage to 39-16 at halftime.

Led by Wholaver’s eight first-quarter points and the strong inside game of senior forward Damon Maul, who converted three field goals from the paint, the Highlanders busted out of the gates quickly.

“This is a group that’s played a lot of basketball together, a group that wants to be good,” Cambria Heights coach Eric Nagel said. “We wanted to get after it early.”

The Highlanders used a nine-point run in the second quarter to go on top, 34-12. Senior forward Chris Coover made his presence known underneath the basket and scored three close-range field goals off the bench in the second quarter, as the Highlanders ran away and hid.

“They played very well, they made their shots, they got looks inside, and they controlled the boards,” Mo Valley coach Derrik Eckenrode said of the Highlanders. “They owned the boards.”

Maul added 12 points for the Highlanders, who led, 60-28 after three quarters and coasted in the second half. Junior Ben Murawski led Mo Valley (2-4) with 15 points, including four 3-pointers.

The Highlanders played with rhythm throughout the first three quarters.

“We passed the ball real nice, everybody was cutting to the hoop,” said Heights senior Nathan Lamb. “We’ve been playing together all summer. The chemistry is there. We know each other real well.”

Nagel agreed that this team is playing with a lot of cohesiveness and grit.

“This group of seniors definitely wants to battle and compete every night,” Nagel said. “They’re doing a real good job.”

And succeeding in their own holiday tournament is a very positive step.

“It’s good to play in front of your home crowd, and it’s good for us to see other teams that we typically don’t see a lot,” Nagel said. “We moved the ball and shared the ball well in the first half. We talk about moving the ball — it’s not just an ‘I’ game. It’s a team game.”

MOSHANNON VALLEY (34): A. Kitko 1 4-6 7, Matchock 1 2-4 4, Murawski 5 1-1 15, Bacher 2 0-2 4, Butler 1 0-0 2, Reed 0 0-0 0, Dufour 0 0-0 0, M. Kitko 0 0-0 0, E. Webb 1 0-0 2. Totals — 11 7-13 34.

CAMBRIA HEIGHTS (71): Maul 5 2-4 12, N. Lamb 2 0-0 4, Wholaver 8 2-2 20, P. Lamb 2 0-1 4, Farabaugh 2 0-0 5, Bradley 2 0-0 5, Link 1 0-0 2, Yeckley 2 0-0 4, L. Lamb 2 3-3 7, Bearer 0 0-0 0, Weakland 0 1-2 1, Coover 3 1-2 7. Totals — 29 9-14 71.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Moshannon Valley 11 5 12 6 — 34

Cambria Heights 23 16 21 11 — 71

3-point goals: Moshannon Valley 5 (Murawski 4, A. Kitko); Cambria Heights 4 (Wholaver 2, Farabaugh, Bradley).

Records: Moshannon Valley (2-4); Cambria Heights (3-2).

Officials:Jack McDougal, Brandon Hoover, Randy Burket

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