Heights cruises into semis
PATTON — Kirsten Weakland recalled the weekend of March 13-14, 2020, when Cambria Heights awaited an appearance in the PIAA Class 3A girls basketball tournament that was snuffed out by the Coronavirus outbreak.
She wants to return to the state playoffs and finish what the 2020 team was prevented from achieving.
“I want to so bad,” Weakland said. “I was so upset that going into the Trinity game and not knowing it was our last game, and then it was our last game. I just want to redo it this year.”
Weakland and the Lady Highlanders took at least one quarter to shake off one week of inactivity and went on to a 51-21 rout of Bald Eagle Area in a District 6 Class 3A quarterfinal-round playoff game at Cambria Heights High School on Wednesday night. Cambria Heights will play host to Penns Valley at 7 p.m. Monday in the semis.
“I definitely don’t want this year to end — especially (after the way) it got cut short,” Cambria Heights coach Amber Fees said.
The Lady Highlanders, who had not played since Feb. 24, made only one of their first 12 shots from the floor. The first of Bryce Burkey’s three 3-pointers put Cambria Heights in the lead for good, 6-4, with 2:36 left.
“I thought we came out a little flat in the first quarter. I was disappointed with that,” Fees said. “I think our nerves were a little bit getting to us because this is the most people we’ve played (in front of) all year. So, they were excited, but they were nervous at the same time. So, I’m glad we got that out of our system.”
“I think we were all just a bit nervous because we have not had this many fans since last year. It’s been over a year since we had this many fans at a game,” Weakland said. “Looking at the bleachers and seeing all those fans kind of flustered all of us.”
“It was nice that we had a bunch of people come out,” Abbie Baker said. “But I think it was a mix of us being nervous and us being rusty. We didn’t come out as strong, and Bald Eagle definitely came out very strong.”
Cambria Heights began to assert itself under the boards and in transition. Baker raked in 12 rebounds and came away with three steals.
“She did a phenomenal job getting those rebounds,” Fees said. “Before every game we give them each a goal of how many they’re supposed to get. And I think that really helps her put that in her mind set — that she has to get so many to have a good game.”
“I feel like I could have shot better today,” said Baker, who managed five points. “But as we moved the ball around, everyone kept getting open good shots. So, it wasn’t like I didn’t have to score much.”
Weakland fueled the transition with seven steals. Most of her game-high 19 points came off steals.
“Kiki is always everywhere on the floor, no matter what defense we’re in,” Fees said. “She definitely hustles, and she sets the tone for our defense.”
“They’re a complete team. They’re a good team,” Bald Eagle Area coach Shawn Thompson said.
Cambria Heights forced 30 turnovers and held a 41-29 edge in rebounds.
“The turnovers came from them playing solid defense. They mixed up their defensive looks on us a bunch of times,” Thompson said.
“I think our girls, when they want to rebound, do a very nice job. And I’m very proud of when I look down there and I see three or four of our kids going through the boards,” Fees said. “I don’t think we’ve had a successful shooting game so far this year. So, we’ve got to get those second and third chances to put the ball in the hoop.”
Burkey contributed 13 points, and Jade Snedden added 10.
“Everyone got their points. It was a great team effort today,” Baker said.
Sarah Holler and Abigail Hoover led Bald Eagle Area with five points apiece.
BALD EAGLE AREA (21): Perry 1 0-0 3, G.Cingle 2 0-1 4, Onder 0 0-0 0, Holler 1 3-4 5, Serb 2 1-2 5, Hoover 0 2-4 2, Snyder 0 2-2 2, C.CIngle 0 0-0 0, Bucha 0 0-0 0, Moyer 0 0-0 0. Totals — 7 8-13 21.
CAMBRIA HEIGHTS (51): Jones 2 0-0 4, K. Weakland 8 0-0 19, Burkey 5 1-2 13, Snedden 4 2-2 10, Baker 2 1-2 5, Bender 0 0-0 0, M. Weakland 0 0-0 0, Adams 0 0-0 0. Totals — 21 4-6 51.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bald Eagle Area 4 7 4 6 –21
Cambria Heights 8 15 11 17–51
3-point goals: Bald Eagle Area 1 (Perry); Cambria Heights 5 (K. Weakland 3, Burkey 2).
Records: Bald Eagle Area (6-10); Cambria Heights (10-3).
Officials: Sue Kovensky, Lynn Smith, Craig Andros.