Lady Panthers find silver lining in loss

LEWISTOWN — The noises coming from beyond the Penn Cambria locker room following the Lady Panthers’ 73-64 loss to Delone Catholic in the second round of the PIAA Class 3A playoffs Tuesday night was not one of a team in mourning.

The Lady Panthers clapped and gave themselves a well-deserved cheer for a historic season.

“It was amazing all we accomplished,” Penn Cambria senior Makayln Clapper said. “We were the first team in school history to get a state playoff win, and we won District 6, which we hadn’t done in 26 years.”

Penn Cambria didn’t just settle for its previous achievements. It gave the Squirettes, a perennial PIAA power under Bishop Guilfoyle graduate Gerry Eckenrode, a run for its money.

In fact, it wasn’t until the Lady Panthers were forced to slow down a bit that Delone Catholic locked up the victory.

The Squirettes got into the bonus in the second half with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter, and Maggie Hughes’ free throws gave them a 46-37 lead.

Clapper, who led Penn Cambria with 23 points, drilled a pair of 3-pointers to bring the Lady Panthers within five, but they had to ease up on the pressure they are known for.

“That was really tough, because our main goal is to be aggressive,” Clapper said. “We wanted to press and make them turn it over, and unfortunately, we couldn’t do that.”

Delone Catholic, and Brooke Lawyer specifically, took advantage. Lawyer finished the game with five 3-pointers and a game-high 32 points.

“We shot the ball exceptionally well, and we had to,” Eckenrode said. “They are a really strong team, and we had to counteract their chaos, as they call it, and I thought we did a pretty good job of beating their pressure for the most part. That was the key of the game.”

The game was tied at 14 after Clapper made a pair of free throws with 2:51 left in the first quarter, but a Lawyer 3-pointer started an 11-0 run to close the quarter that included two more treys.

“The film I watched, we knew they could shoot it a little bit, but they got hot in the first quarter,” Penn Cambria coach Keith Saleme said. “That definitely put us behind the eight-ball.”

Delone Catholic threatened to pull away several times in the fourth quarter, but Penn Cambria seniors Laken Guzic, Ryanna Hockenos, Mia McCarthy, Emmy Harvey and Clapper all made big baskets to try and get the Lady Panthers back into it.

“All five seniors fought until the end,” Saleme said. “That’s in their DNA. They were never going to give up, regardless of the score.”

Guzic and Harvey each finished with 11 points, while Hockenos scored nine points. Penn Cambria forced 17 turnovers, but most of those came in the first half.

“Gerry had his girls ready for the press,” Saleme said. “They didn’t panic when they got double and triple teamed.”

Penn Cambria finished its season 21-7 and declared from behind the locker room doors to get back to this point and build from this season.

“They have raised the bar for the whole program,” Saleme said. “We won a district title, won our school’s first state playoff game, and we had set all these goals at the start of the season. As a coach, I’m extremely proud of those five seniors.”

PENN CAMBRIA (64): Hockenos 3 3-3 9, McCarthy 1 0-0 3, Clapper 8 3-6 23, Guzic 4 2-2 11, Kunsman 2 0-0 5, Saleme 0 0-0 0, Grove 0 2-2 2, Shuagis 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 12-15 64

DELONE CATHOLIC (73): Vingsen 2 2-2 6, Hoddinott 2 1-4 6, Lawyer 9 9-9 32, Felix 2 2-2 8, Zumbrum 5 3-5 13, McCormick 1 0-0 2, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Hughes 0 4-4 4, Wells 0 2-2 2. Totals — 21 23-28 73

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Penn Cambria 14 12 17 21 — 64

Delone Catholic 25 8 20 20 — 73

3-point goals: Penn Cambria 8 (Clapper 4, Guzic, Harvey, Kunsman, McCarthy); Delone Catholic 8 (Lawyer 5, Felix 2, Hoddinott)

Officials: Tona Williams, Ray Hopple, Dave Pray

Records: Penn Cambria (21-7); Delone Catholic (23-4)

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