Hayward, CC girls savor historic night
EBENSBURG — With only 5.5 seconds remaining on the clock in the Stevens Carpet One Holiday Hardwood Classic championship game Saturday night, Central Cambria senior McKenna Hayward came up clutch when her team needed her most.
Assisting on a Liz Bopp bucket to tie the game with 30 seconds remaining, Hayward intercepted an errant Penns Manor pass and dribbled down the court, sinking a shot from just inside the perimeter to give her team a 50-48 lead.
The lead was not relinquished, anointing Hayward as the hero of the night.
“We lost this tournament two years in a row, and if we wanted to make this our year, we knew it all started with this tournament,” Hayward said. “We had a good start to the season, and this is really going to keep propelling us forward. We really wanted this win, and I think that just drove us to keep going when we were down.”
While Hayward came up clutch in the end, she certainly had her struggles early.
Entering action Saturday night, Hayward needed only 13 points to reach 1,000 on her career.
After netting 12 of those, she struggled to find the last point required to etch her name into Central Cambria history books, missing on five straight shots.
With just over two minutes remaining in the game, with her team trailing by five, Hayward made a trip to the foul line in hopes of finally netting point No. 1,000.
The first shot failed, plating even more doubt in her mind.
Persevering through her struggles, Hayward converted on the second and let out a colossal sigh of relief afterward.
“I came into this game telling myself that 1,000 points is going to eventually come,” Hayward said. “We needed to worry about winning this tournament first. You could tell I was pretty nervous, but the tournament was all I was thinking about. We wanted to win this tournament. One-thousand points were eventually going to come.”
Following a consistent three quarters of scoring, both teams hit a stalemate in the fourth.
Needing points from her star player, CC coach Brittany Sedlock told Hayward to “just let it happen” regarding the 1,000-point milestone after the senior seemed to force several shots.
Once Hayward reached her personal milestone, the game flipped a switch, and the Red Devils went on a 6-0 run to seal the win.
“I don’t think she ever lost sight of the ultimate goal, which was to get her team the win,” Sedlock said.
Hayward led the Lady Devils with 15 points.
Much of Central Cambria’s offense could also be attributed to senior guard Jenna Bauer.
Although she did contribute 12 points, the majority of Bauer’s contributions were from below the hoop, where she was able to box out her opponent and jumpstart opportunities on the fast break for her team.
“We rebound and run. That’s where we get most of our points,” Bauer said. “We always focus on rebounding, and Penns Manor has a lot of good rebounders on their team, so we had to focus on that.”
With the tournament supplying four stout teams, Sedlock said it was rewarding to see her team stand above the rest.
“I think everybody here got their money’s worth,” Sedlock said. “It was a really great game between two really good teams. We knew coming in it was going to be a battle, and to come out of it as champions is very rewarding. I’m very proud of my girls, especially in the last two minutes of the game. I thought we played some lock-down defense and really turned it on to hold on to the win.”
In the consolation game, Everett’s Kaitlyn Maxwell weaved through defenders off an inbound pass with 16 seconds remaining and found Madison Hicks on the block for the go-ahead score in a 38-37 win over United.
Maxwell finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven steals and was named to the all-tournament team.
CENTRAL CAMBRIA (50): Hayward 4 7-8 15, Bauer 6 0-0 12, Bopp 1 4-6 6, Bezek 2 1-1 6, Szpala 1 0-0 3, Wess 1 2-3 4, Lockard 1 0-1 2, Kudlawiec 1 0-0 2- Totals — 17 14-19 50.
PENNS MANOR (48) Fennell 5 8-8 18, Dumm 4 0-0 8, Smith 3 4-6 10, Tomayko 3 2-2 9, Zayachak 1 1-2 3, Bagley 0 0-2 0. Totals — 16 15-18 48.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central Cambria 15 10 12 13 — 50
Penns Manor 14 12 16 6 — 48
3-point field goals: Central Cambria 2 (Szpala, Bezek); Penns Manor 1 (Tomayko)
Records: Central Cambria (7-3); Penns Manor (6-1)
United (37): Susick 5 0-0 11, Fry 6 1-5 13, Duplin 2 0-0 4, Morgan 1 4-4 6, Cameron 0 0-0 0, Silk 0 0-0 0, Murlin 1 0-0 3. Totals — 15 5-9 37.
Everett (38): Jay 1 2-4 4, Colledge 3 0-1 7, Ewing 1 0-0 2, M. Hicks 3 3-7 9, Maxwell 7 0-0 15, Bulger 0 1-2 1, Iseminger 0 0-0 0, Treece 0 0-0 0, A. Hicks 0 0-0 0. Totals – 15 6-14 38.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
United 10 10 8 9 — 37
Everett 10 7 11 10 — 38
3-point goals: United 2 (Susick, Murlin); Everett 2 (Colledge, Maxwell).
Records: United (5-3); Everett (6-2).