CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — In many ways, one never knows what they’re going to see from the Cambridge Springs boys basketball team from game-to-game.
The starting five seems to be different each night. The rest of the rotation comes off the bench in various orders, creating unique mixes of players. They’ll guard the hoop with different defenses and attack with different offenses (or sometimes not attack for minutes at a time).
However, as the season has evolved, it’s become clear that there is at least one thing you can expect from the Cambridge Springs boys basketball team each night: Whatever the Blue Devils are doing, they are doing it with intensity.
Maplewood was the latest team to find that out, as they traveled to the Devils’ Den for a Region 3 contest on Friday night. And Cambridge, in whatever combination they employed last night, had the motor revving right from the start, pulling away from the Tigers for a 55-26 victory.
“Solid,” said Cambridge head coach Becky Leandro. “Solid performance all the way around. We came out very strong.”
This latest performance has the Blue Devils out to a 9-2 record on the season, and a 4-0 mark in Region 3.
Maplewood, playing their third game in the last four days and their second straight against a region leader (the Tigers lost to Corry on Wednesday), slipped 4-9 overall, 2-3 in Region 3.
“(Cambridge Springs) is big, they’re athletic,” said Maplewood head coach Shawn Rhoades. “And they’re smart. It’s a full-package deal there. They play in a system and they do well. And we’ve got to score.”
The problem for Maplewood was that Cambridge wasn’t allowing the Tigers to do much scoring in the early going, getting straight into the full-court press and forcing the Tigers to hurry their shots from deep before the Devils could fluster the ball-handler and get a turnover.
“They force you to set your offense up from too far out,” said Rhoades. “So, you’re sets are too big. It’s hard to score.
“And their size, I mean, their guards alone, you’ve got Lance (Welker) and Matt (Andrews) are very good size. And Jared (Taylor) is very athletic.”
So, while Maplewood was held to just three points in the opening quarter — scored about midway through on a 3-pointer by Clay Cox — Cambridge Springs was amassing its lead.
The Blue Devils put up 15 in the first period, and then added 22 more in the second to take a 37-13 edge into the half.
Dylan Luktisch gave the Devils something to cheer about while going into the locker room, missing the back-end of a shooting foul before grabbing the carom and going back up for a lay-in at the buzzer.
For the second half, the ever-unpredictable Devils tried a couple different styles of offense. In the third, Leandro told her players she wanted to see at least four passes before an attempt to score. That made things easier on the scoreboard operator, and the Devils edged out Maplewood 10-7 for the period to lead 47-20 going into the fourth.
Then to start the fourth, Leandro put the breaks on, telling her players to hold onto the ball until there was 4:20 left in the game.
The Devils did indeed maintain possession until Leandro called a timeout with 4:19 left. After that, substitutes came in for both sides and the two teams inched to the finish.
Not that the Blue Devils had many subs left. They had been cycling plenty all game long, eventually getting 10 of their 11 players on the scoresheet.
“I like to rotate,” said Leandro. “Say one of my guys fouls out, if I put the next one in, he’s been a starter already. So there’s no, ‘Well, he’s not a starter. He’s not one of my best five.’ Also, too, there’s a complacency. When you start the same five, they get comfortable. And I don’t want them comfortable. I want them fighting for it in practice, I want them fighting in the game.
“So, that’s what I’m trying to do with that. But, I have the skill available to do that. I have the bench, where some teams do not.”
Among that scoring 10, Trent Wheeler led the way with a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double. Lance Welker added 10 points. Matt Andrews, Jared Taylor and Zach Kingsley put up six apiece.
For Maplewood, Clay Cox had a pair of 3-pointers and scored six points.