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Lady Highlanders pass first LHAC test of season

EBENSBURG — Every night is a battle in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference.

In Wednesday night’s intra-conference girls basketball matchup between foes Cambria Heights and Bishop Carroll, that sentiment rang true as both teams were tested early on.

With both teams battling adversity, the Lady Highlanders ultimately outlasted the Huskies and emerged victorious in the leg race, 70-42.

“I think tonight was a test to see how these girls will respond, because every game in this conference is going to be tough,” Cambria Heights coach Amber Fees said.

Though it was opening night for Heights, the team showed no rust from the beginning tip-off.

The Lady Highlanders (1-0), aided by eight points in the first quarter by Chloe Weakland, endured on a 20-6 run to open the game.

“We wanted redemption. We’re so used to being called the underdog, and this is our time to come out and shine,” said Cambria Heights senior forward Emily Henry, who netted 12 points in the victory. “We came out flying.”

But in the second frame, Bishop Carroll (2-1) responded.

On the heels of a 6-0 personal run by Molly Krumenacker, Bishop Carroll allowed only seven points in the second and kept the game within five points heading into the lockers.

“The resiliency was awesome,” Bishop Carroll first-year coach John Bianconi said. “My girls will never quit. They’re hard workers. That’s one thing that (longtime former coach Bob) Gongloff instilled in these girls. They’re never going to quit or back down. That’s just how Bishop Carroll plays. Every punch you give us, we’ll get back up.”

While they was able to evade the Husky press in the first quarter, the Lady Highlanders were having fits in the second.

Heights failed to connect on several passes out of their own zone, and Bishop Carroll forced several takeaways.

That press helped jump-start the Husky offense, which was rocky to boot.

“The press was working. That’s our go-to,” Bianconi said. “We were battling. We had a ton of turnovers. We created the havoc we wanted, we just weren’t able to execute.”

Bishop Carroll continued to cause commotion, and frustration was beginning to boil with the Lady Highlanders.

“We weren’t looking before we dribbled,” said Highlanders junior guard Jade Snedden, who recorded 13 points. “We would panic and just start dribbling. We were giving the ball away. Once we were able to stop, look and focus, we got the ball where it needed to be.”

But during halftime, the Highlanders stayed focused.

While they trying to shy away from holding the underdog mantra, it turned out to be just what they needed in the second half.

“We’re so used to being the underdog and working our way back,” Henry said. “We’re so good at it. We know how to catch people by surprise.”

Experience was also on Cambria Heights’ side.

With three four-year starters in the lineup, the team has learned over the years how to handle adversity when it presents itself.

“I think if this was last year, these girls would have hung their heads low and gave in,” Fees said. “But everyone was talking in the locker room at halftime and staying really positive. They weren’t giving in.”

The Highlanders were without the services of marquee guard Kirsten Weakland, who was in foul trouble for most of the third quarter.

Stepping up to the plate was the junior Snedden, who broke out 11 points in the second half to revitalize her team’s offensive attack.

“We had way too many turnovers. We panicked (in the second quarter) and were rushing things,” she said. “We had to clean it up.”

Following an even third quarter of play, Cambria Heights exploded for a 24-3 run to finish the game.

“This was a good win for us,” Snedden said. “Both (teams) had a really good fight, and were both really hard-working. In the end, we pushed through.”

CAMBRIA HEIGHTS (70): C. Weakland 6 5-6 18, Henry 4 4-7 14, Snedden 5 2-4 13, Lobick 5 2-5 13, K. Weakland 4 0-0 8, Burkey 2 0-0 5, Bills 1 0-0 2, Jones 0 1-2 1, Thomas 0 0-0 0. Totals–26 14-24 70.

BISHOP CARROLL (42): Krumenacker 5 0-0 12, Buynack 5 0-0 10, M. Ostinowsky 3 0-0 7, Yahner 2 1-2 5, Long 1 3-4 5, Pompa 1 0-0 2, McMullen 0 1-2 1, Smorto 0 0-0 0, Wyland 0 0-0 0, Becquet 0 0-0 0, Koscho 0 0-0 0. Totals–17 5-8 42

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Cambria Heights 20 7 18 24 — 70

Bishop Carroll 11 11 17 3 — 42

3-point field goals:–Cambria Heights 4 (C. Weakland, Snedden, Lobick, Burkey); Bishop Carroll 3 (Krumenacker 32, M. Ostinowsky).

JV: CH, 37-34. High scorers: Burkey, CH, 19; Wyland, BC, 8.

Records: Cambria Heights (1-0); Bishop Carroll (2-1).

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