By Lisa Byers
There are a few numbers teams never want to see on their stat sheets at the end of a basketball game. A total of 37 turnovers, 25 personal fouls and 43 free throw attempts allowed would certainly be among them.
Looking at those numbers, however, is far easier when they come at the conclusion of a win, especially one against an arch rival.
Cambridge Springs took a sizeable lead and then held off a late rally on its way to a 52-40 win over Saegertown on Thursday in Region 3 girls basketball action.
The win is just the second for the Blue Devils in four seasons and the first in region play since Feb. 1, 2010. Cambridge’s last win against Saegertown came in non-region action on Dec. 28, 2011 in the championship game of the annual Elks Holiday Tournament.
The Blue Devils improved to 5-5 overall and 3-2 in Region 3. Saegertown dropped to 7-3 overall and 1-2 in the region.
“Like my son (Justin) told the girls in the locker room, ‘They could have folded,’” said Cambridge Springs head coach Rick Grubbs, a former longtime assistant at Saegertown. “They got to within two points down; we got in some foul trouble. Things weren’t going our way.
“But they stuck with it, played hard, and we scored some baskets when we needed to.”
Yesterday’s tilt was far from pretty as has been the custom between the Panthers and Blue Devils for a number of years. Both teams are traditionally scrappy and rely heavily on wreaking havoc. Saegertown does so by way of its patented zone defense.
Fortunately for the Blue Devils, they didn’t let that get to them too much early on and were able to build a sizeable lead.
Saegertown scored the first point of the game from the free throw line just 21 seconds into the game. But Cambridge answered with seven straight to take a 7-1 lead and finished the first period up 17-7. The first quarter featured a total of 24 turnovers between the two teams and 14 trips to the foul line.
The Blue Devils maintained that 10-point lead (30-20) going into the lockerroom at the half. With 2:44 left in the third quarter that lead had dwindled to just two (33-31). That is as close as Cambridge Springs allowed the Panthers to get.
“We got it close there and had a couple chances to tie it up,” Saegertown coach Steve Scott said. “But we didn’t and they came down and hit their shots. They have kids who can shoot the ball. They have good shooters, good foul shooters and they hit their shots when they needed to.”
At the end of the quarter, the Blue Devils’ lead was back to five (39-34). It was back to 10 (44-34) with 7:13 to play in the game.
“I think what happened was at the end of the game (Saegertown) got tired,” Grubbs said. “I played I think at least 10 girls, maybe 11, and played them full court. We didn’t get a whole lot of steals from it, but we made them work the entire game.
“And I think at the end we were able to get ball down the court. McKayla Zilhaver got a couple fastbreaks. After a while, you only have so much gas left in the tank.”
The Panthers were without point guard Becca Siple and will be without the sophomore for the remainder of the season after she suffered a foot injury against Meadville in the championship game of the Elks Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28. That gave fellow sophomore Sadie Mondi her first start at point guard and she thrived.
Mondi, who picked up two fouls in the first minute and a half, collected at least a dozen steals and got the foul line 19 times.
“She did a good job for us (last night) filling in for Becca,” Scott said. “(Becca) has been running the point for us all year. We needed to get everyone back in the mix and see where everyone fit in, and I think Sadie did a nice job.”
“She caused trouble when we got the ball in the high post, out front,” he said. “She ran the offense for them. She stepped up big.”
Mondi led all scorers with 12 points.
Paige Wolfrom led the Blue Devils with nine points. She also added nine rebounds, eight of which came in the fourth quarter. Zilhaver finished with eight points.
Lauren Posego and Mikayla Newman had nine points each for the Panthers.