By Pete Chiodo
GUYS MILLS —
As are many basketball teams this time of year, the Cambridge Springs girls are wondering where its playoff hopes stand.
A .500 record isn’t everything. But it would definitely help. And that was the mindset of the Lady Blue Devils as they headed into Monday night’s meeting with Maplewood with an overall mark of 9-9.
Cambridge got what it was looking for out of the game, beating the Tigers 41-21. As for the team’s playoff hopes, well, that is still yet to be determined.
“I don’t know if we still have any shot at the playoffs or not,” said Blue Devils head coach Rick Grubbs. “You never know what (the District 10 committee) is going to do. Maybe a play-in game or something, I don’t know.”
The Maplewood game was just the beginning of a busy week for Cambridge, a week that can make or break the season.
“We have to play East (tonight),” said Grubbs. “Then we go to Youngsville Thursday night. Then we go to (Conneaut Area) on Friday. So we have three more games this week. If we can win a couple of those, we’ll have a winning record. You can’t count on anything. But if you keep winning, there is always a chance.”
The win improves Cambridge to 4-6 in Region 3. Maplewood slips to 5-15 overall and 2-8 in the conference.
It was senior night for the Tigers, who will graduate eight 12th graders when the season comes to a close.
“All in all, it was a good senior night,” said Maplewood head coach Ben Mangus. “The girls worked hard. I was proud of them.
“We’ve had quite a few seniors that have stuck with us, which is a testament to them because we’ve had a tough region the last few years. It hasn’t always been easy. But they’ve always continued to work hard and come in during the summer. They’re just amazing girls. I wish we could have gone out with a win on senior night. But, with the way they played, I’m really proud of them.”
Neither team got off to a hot start last night. Both were plagued by turnovers and missed buckets during the first few possessions.
The drought ended when Cambridge Springs’ McKayla Zilhaver banked in a layup to get the Devils on the board with nearly three minutes elapsed. It would be another three minutes before the scoreboard would change. Again it was Zilhaver, this time draining a jumper from the foul line. Finally, with 1:02 left, Zilhaver stole the ball in Maplewood’s end and returned it for a fast-break lay in.
The period would end with Cambridge Springs on top 6-0. Zilhaver had all six points.
Maplewood wouldn’t score until there was 5:15 left in the second period. Madalyn Nicols made both ends of a 1-and-1, trimming the Blue Devils’ lead to 8-2.
At that point it appeared that both team had found some sort or rhythm and they went on to trade buckets for the rest of the second quarter. Cambridge remained in front 17-7 going into halftime.
Maplewood enjoyed a little bit of a run in the third quarter. The Tigers opened by outscoring Cambridge 8-3, cutting the Devils’ lead to five points (20-15).
Nicols, who finished with a game-high 11 points, scored three straight hoops for Maplewood, the last of which made it 22-17 Cambridge with 1:30 left in the third.
“Cambridge plays tough, in-your-face defense,” said Mangus. “And we sometimes have issues with it. But we adjusted to it in the middle quarters and we got back within five. But then I think we ran out of gas.”
Nicols’ final bucket would be the last points scored by Maplewood for the next six minutes plus.
The Blue Devils embarked on a 13-point scoring run that started at the end of the third and lasted until there was 1:45 left in the fourth.
By the time the run ended, Cambridge was ahead 35-17, giving the Devils plenty of cushion for the victory.
“Sometimes we struggle shooting,” said Grubbs. “We did for awhile (Monday), but in the fourth quarter we started scoring some. In the third quarter and fourth quarter we started hitting some of those little shots in the middle. And if we’re doing that than we’re OK.”
Cambridge was led by Zilhaver and Taylor Babb who scored eight points apiece. Brianna Babb and Madison Seher each scored five.