CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — It was a tale of two halves.
In the opening half, especially the first eight minutes of play, visiting Cochranton looked like a team on a mission. But the second half went to the home squad as Cambridge Springs rallied from as much as an eight-point deficit to beat the Cardinals 59-48 in Region 2 girls basketball play on Monday.
“First of all, Cochranton is a good team,” said Cambridge Springs head coach Rob Dies. “Coach Dave (Zamperini) is doing a great job down there. They came in here ready to go. We were over-hyped, took some silly fouls. Ultimately we had to pick up our defense.”
In the first half, Cochranton’s press forced the Blue Devils to commit several key turnovers and them capitalized on them. And when Cambridge broke the press, several plays broke down and the Cardinals still forced the turnover. That helped the visiting team take a 17-11 lead in the first quarter, with Jaidan Martinec and Riley Harvey each scoring six points. Had Cochranton not thrown the ball away on several occasion, the advantage could have been even bigger.
“I don’t know what it is,” said Zamperini. “We are just having trouble putting a full game together. It was like a tale of two teams. We came out and had some swagger there in the first half. And then, I don’t know what happened. We just kept turning the ball over and not making shots.”
Cambridge Springs needed something to change, and Rachel Swanson changed it.
The 5-foot-5 senior guard took control of the ball on the inbound play. Then, after getting the ball in to the open teammate, she was instrumental in breaking the press by getting the ball back and dribbling through the defense or finding the outlet pass to clear center court. The result was instantly recognizable.
Instead of Cochranton controlling the tempo, Cambridge Springs began to push the pace. The Blue Devils also began to finish underneath. Add in a small run at the end of the half, and the Cardinals’ advantage was shaved to just 26-24.
Key buckets were scored by Makenzie Yanc, who had five points in the period. With the team going inside more, it also led to more fouls. The Blue Devils took advantage there, making 7-of-11 during the period.
“That is from Rachel seeing the court and getting the ball up the court,” said Dies. “And she made the right passes down low, too.”
The Blue Devils put it away in the second half.
Cambridge tied the game on a free throw by Makenzie Yanc with 6:16 to play in the period. Maddie Yanc scored with 5:32 to go to give the home team a lead it would never relinquish. With three minutes to play in the period, Cochranton’s Megan Wright scored to make it a 35-33 game. But Cambridge scored the next seven points to extend the advantage to 42-33 with 25 seconds to play in the third. That run was sparked by an Ashton Hoover 3-pointer with 1:50 to play in the period. Hoover would score seven of her 15 points in the frame.
“Rachel handled the point in the second half absolutely picture perfectly,” said Dies. “We were able to score points on the other side of (the press). That was all due to Rachel.
“Did she have help? Absolutely. But she is the one forced to make the decisions on entry passes.”
Maddie Yanc then capped the final outcome.
With Cochranton still trying to close the gap, Maddie Yanc made several key baskets to help hold them off. She made the first bucket of the period to push the lead to 44-35. The Cardinals were still hanging in there, cutting the lead to 52-43 with 3:06 to play. Maddie Yanc stopped that spurt with a driving bucket and free throw to make it 55-43. After another Cochranton score made it 55-45 with 2:28 to play, Maddie Yanc struck again for layup and-1 to make it a 58-45 lead.
“That was one of the things we talked about at halftime,” said Dies. “We had to finish to the hoop. We are not sharp shooters outside. If its available, we’ll take it. But we would rather take it to the hoop.”
Maddie Yanc finished with a game-high 17 points to pace the Blue Devils. Makenzie Yanc tallied a dozen in the win.
Harvey dropped in 14 to lead the Cardinals, while Martinec contributed 11.
“I thought our defense was much better this time around,” said Zamperini. “I thought our press looked a lot better. We were definitely defending the middle, getting some traps, some easy steals. But we gave up too many foul shots because the help was late rotating over. And we just have to knock down shots. We went cold there after the first quarter.”