Defense helps CC girls clear first-round hurdle

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Central Cambria had lost its last three first-round appearances in the PIAA Girls Basketball Tournament.

The Lady Red Devils played much like a team that wanted to halt that trend.

McKenna Hayward scored a game-high 19 points and came away with 10 steals as Central Cambria rolled to a 73-44 victory against Brookville in a Class 3A game at Chuck Daly Memorial Gymnasium. The Lady Red Devils (18-7) will play Shady Side Academy, a 44-36 winner over Greenville, in a second-round game on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.

“My seniors have lost the first round of states the past three years,” Central Cambria coach Brittany Sedlock said. “They were hungry. They worked hard all week. I’m excited to see how far we can go and excited for Tuesday.”

Central Cambria played a swarming defense that kept District 9 champion Brookville on its heels nearly the entire game.

“We came in with the mindset that we needed to play as we know how to play,” Hayward said. “We know we can play that well.”

The Lady Red Devils forced 18 turnovers and smoked the Lady Blue Raiders in transition.

“We knew if we applied full-court pressure and came out with a lot of energy and intensity that we would create chaos and hopefully get some turnovers,” Sedlock said. “And that’s exactly what happened.

“(It’s a) credit to my girls. They came out fired-up, they executed the game plan. They were all over it. Full-court, half-court, whatever defense they were in, I thought they did a really great job defensively.”

Central Cambria never trailed and assumed a 22-6 lead at the end of the first period. The Lady Red Devils led by as many as 30 points.

“We had a lot of early misses. We had opportunities early to score. And for us we need to score and get into the press,” Brookville coach Mark Powell said. “We were unable to get the ball in the bucket early. And, yeah, they were the better team tonight.”

Hayward led a defense that totaled 18 steals. Cassidy Bezek added five steals.

“She played great tonight. I thought she did a good job defensively getting everybody going and offensively finding the open man,” Sedlock said.

Bezek added 15 points, and Liz Bopp contributed 10 for the Lady Red Devils.

“I thought my girls played great team basketball tonight. They were very unselfish. They made the extra pass at the right time but also took it themselves at the right time,” Sedlock said. “And I felt that we were really in sync, and had a lot of chemistry and it really came together tonight.”

“I think this was one of our strongest showings this year, even though I think we can do better,” Hayward said.

Marcy Schindler led Brookville (19-6) with 14 points. Morgan Johnson added 11.

“We’re a much better basketball team than that,” Powell said. “We just didn’t play like it tonight.”

Central Cambria (73): Wess 3 0-0 6, Hayward 7 5-5 19, Bauer 3 2-4 8, Bezek 7 1-2 15, Bopp 4 2-2 10, Szpala 3 1-3 9, Lockard 4 0-1 8, Kudlawiec 0 0-0 0, Stevens 0 0-0 0, Boyles 0 0-0 0. Totals — 31 11-17 73.

Brookville (44): Schindler 6 1-2 14, Mo. Johnson 5 0-0 11, Ma. Johnson 1 1-2 3, Hatzinikolas 0 0-0 0, Powell 2 0-0 4, Hergert 1 0-0 2, Taylor 0 0-0 0, Grant 1 3-4 5, Aikens 0 0-0 0, Sharp 0 0-0 0, Ganoe 0 0-0 0, Kammerdeiner 0 0-0 0. Totals — 18 6-13 44.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Central Cambria 22 15 25 11 — 73

Brookville 6 13 24 11 — 44

3-point goals: Central Cambria 2 (Szpala 2), Brookville 2 (Schindler, Mo. Johnson).

Officials: Bill Barton, Eddie Baumcratz, Barry VasBinder.

Records: Central Cambria (18-7), Brookville (19-6).

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