T-D HS Basketball

Penns Valley drums out Cambria Heights boys

By: Cory Isenberg

TYRONE — The last time Penns Valley and Cambria Heights boys tangled a couple weeks ago, the Highlanders fell by 18 points.
The Patton squad gave the Rams a much bigger battle on Monday night in the opening round of the District 6 Class AA playoffs at the Tyrone Middle School.
“Our kids battled,” said Highlanders coach Eric Nagel, whose team lost 44-40. “That’s what I said about this group of kids all season long. They are probably the hardest working group of kids that I’ve ever had. They come to practice every day and practice hard. We came into this game against a team that we lost to by like 18 (points) two weeks ago and be down in the third quarter and only lose by 4.”
The Highlanders, who got a team-high 11 points from Zach Strasser along with nine from Josh Serafin, trailed by seven heading into the fourth, but opened the final quarter with baskets by Shawn Lacue and Strasser to narrow the gap to three, but could get no closer the rest of the way.
The Rams, who did not have a basket in the fourth, were of 9 of 15 from the line in the final frame.
“I don’t think there was any part of our game that was totaling outstanding, but it was just good enough to win and that’s OK in my book tonight,” Penns Valley coach Terry Glunt said. “Stepping into this environment of the playoffs is a totally different animal and it was good for some of our younger kids to experience that and our older kids to remember it because we were one and done last year. It’s nice we get to move on and play a second game.”
Penns Valley, which will play Blairsville later in the week at a site to be determined, was led by 10 points each from Will Jackson and Luke Weaver, with Jackson pulling down six rebounds. Zach Engle supplied eight points and six rebounds for the Rams.
“I told the kids to be happy with the win, but it’s a wake-up call,” Glunt said. “Hopefully we come out against Blairsville, probably on Thursday night, ready to play. We’ve had some big games this year and the kids have stepped up and I expect them to again.”
The teams were tied at 9 after the first quarter. Cambria Heights took its only lead of the first half at the start of the second quarter on a basket by A.J. Huber, but the Rams tied it at 11 on an Engle bucket and were able to pull away in the second, leading by as many as 11.
A Serafin 3-pointer at the buzzer pulled the Highlanders to 24-19 at the intermission.
Cambria Heights opened the third with another 3-pointer, this one by Nathan Patrick, to pull to within two points and another Serafin trey gave the Highlanders their final lead of the game with 5:14 left to play in third, but the Rams built the lead to seven heading into the fourth.
“In that earlier game at their place, I think we had 19 or 20 turnovers and it was kind of an unknown,” Nagel said. “We knew what they were going to bring to us tonight.”
The Cambria Heights coach said he was happy with his team’s effort.
“We graduated five starters from last year and six seniors and had just one returning letterwinner,” Nagel said. “These kids worked hard from the summer and through the season and gave it everything they had.”