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PC girls fall at home to Forest Hills

CRESSON — It was a tight affair early in Thursday night’s contest between Forest Hills and Penn Cambria.

Both teams were vying to keep an early blemish off their records in hopes of a Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference title later this winter.

But once guard Carly Stigers, who was in a personal slump shooting-wise to start her senior year, got back into rhythm, the Ranger captain could not be stopped.

She put up 27 points on the Panthers, including four treys, to give Forest Hills win No. 2 of the season as the Rangers defeated Penn Cambria, 78-70.

Stigers, along with sophomore guard Jordyn Smith, combined for eight field goals from 3-point range, which turned out to be the difference.

“We have some really good outside shooters, and I think once we penetrate and get that outside shot, we are unstoppable,” Stigers said of her team’s 3-point game.

A notorious shooter throughout her high school career, Stigers just couldn’t find her mojo to start the season.

Citing several struggles from all around the court to start the year, Thursday night was a chance for Stigers to hit the restart button on the season.

“It was good to finally get my groove back,” Stigers said. “It was rough starting off with such an off-shot shooting game, but tonight I find my groove and hopefully it continues through the season.”

The Panthers certainly did not make it an easy night for Stigers.

Applying pressure all game long, she had to break through multiple double teams, and as a result, drew multiple fouls.

With a packed gymnasium full of Penn Cambria faithful, Stigers was able to block out the pressure and finished 11-for-13 at the foul line.

“You just have to focus on the hoop,” Stigers said of blocking out pressure at the foul line. “I think of my shooting trainer, Dave Roman, and think of all the pressure foul shooting we do. You just have to tone everyone out and focus on your shot.”

While she was responsible for over one-third of her team’s scoring, Stigers said that it was her team’s play on the defensive side of the ball that gave her so many opportunities.

“We’re a very long team, and we’re very good at defense,” Stigers said. “We have some stellar defenders and some really long arms that make some shot almost impossible. We owe everything to our bigs. They stopped everything, and with all the pressure they put on, they were almost impossible to get past.”

One player who contributed on the opposite side of the ball was senior guard and co-captain Victoria Koeck, who said the team’s transition game helped counter the aggressive Panther attack.

“We knew they were really aggressive on offense,” Koeck said. “Our offense hasn’t really been coming together, but I think it really clicked tonight. Our ball movement really helped and finding the girls to hit the shot worked really well tonight.”

Koeck had only 10 points on the court, but her performance was lauded by Rangers coach Carol Cecere, who said Koeck stepped up when she was needed the most.

Claiming the win over Penn Cambria, who expects to be near the top of the LHAC this year, Koeck said her team showed what it was capable of.

“We proved ourselves tonight,” Koeck said. “This was a tough team, and we knew they were gonna be tough. I thought we did a really great job tonight.”

Although it wasn’t the result he wanted, Penn Cambria coach Keith Saleme could not help but marvel in his opponent’s performance from the perimeter.

Penn Cambria could only muster three treys, courtesy of seniors Laken Guzic, Makalyn Clapper and Emmy Harvey.

“I have to say first of all what a great performance by Forest Hills,” Saleme said. “They did a great job shooting the three-ball. We knew they were going to be a tough team, but I thought we gave them a good run.”

With the loss to Forest Hills being its first of the season, Saleme admitted that the team is disappointed to come away empty handed.

But his team can not dwell on the loss. The Panthers host Richland at the Jaffa Shrine in Altoona on Monday.

“We’ll regroup and will be ready to come back and battle another night,” Saleme said. “It should be an exciting game against Richland on Monday.”

PENN CAMBRIA (70): Guzic 7 4-5 19, Clapper 4 5-8 14, Hockenos 4 2-2 10, Harvey 2 4-6 9, McCarthy 4 0-0 8, Davis 1 3-4 5, Shuagis 2 0-0 4, Grove 0 1-4 1.

FOREST HILLS (78): Stigers 6 11-13 27, Smith 7 0-0 16, Cecere 1 5-6 7, Koeck 3 4-5 10, Zajdel 2 1-1 5, Croyle 0 5-6 5, Burda 1 2-3 4, Debias 0 1-2 1, Stohon 0 1-2 1.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Penn Cambria 15 15 18 22 — 70

Forest Hills 23 15 21 19 — 78

3-point field goals: Penn Cambria 3 (Harvey 1, Guzic 1, Clapper 1); Forest Hills 8 (Stigers 4, Smith 4).

Records: Penn Cambria (2-1); Forest Hills (2-0)

JV: Forest Hills, 29-15. High scorers- Forest Hills: Liz Zajdel 2 3-5 7. Penn Cambria: Marah Saleme 1 1-2 3, Bayle Kunsman 1 0-0 3, Taylor Rabatin 1 0-0 3.

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