Central Cambria takes down Beaver girls in PIAA quarterfinals
By: Dave Mackall
Friday, March 15, 2019 | 9:13 PM
With a lineup dominated by underclassmen, the Beaver girls basketball team still managed to attract some attention this season, playing into the middle of March, despite entering the state tournament as the sixth-place team from the WPIAL playoffs.
The Bobcats, who typically go with three sophomores and a freshman among their starting five, were shooting for a trip to the PIAA Class 3A semifinals when they faced upstart Central Cambria on Friday night.
It won’t happen, but Beaver coach Greg Huston wasn’t too surprised after watching Central Cambria senior point guard McKenna Hayward score 22 points to lead the Red Devils to a 69-35 rout of the Bobcats in a quarterfinals-round game at Hempfield.
“We’re disappointed we lost,” Huston said, “but it’s hard to be too upset after taking as young a team as this as far as we went. They were just more athletic than us. Their experience showed.”
Central Cambria (20-7), the third-place team in the District 6 playoffs, used a first-half, 3-point scoring spree to take control.
Jenna Bauer added 15 points for Central Cambria, which will be making its first appearance in the PIAA semifinals on Monday at a site to be determined against District 3 runner-up Delone Catholic, a 50-41 winner over WPIAL champion Neshannock, in another quarterfinal game.
“It’s surreal,” Central Cambria coach Brittany Sedlock said. “I just said to my assistant coaches, ‘Did we even think we were going to make the final four at the beginning of the season?’ I knew we were capable of it, but did I think it would happen? I mean, we’ve never made it past the first round. It’s awesome. I’m very excited.”
Maddi Weiland led Beaver (19-6) with 14 points. Emma Pavelek added 11 for the Bobcats, who finished second to Neshannock in Section 1-3A during the regular season.
“A lot of teams that were ahead of us in the WPIAL and state playoffs will be losing a lot to graduation,” Huston said. “We have a lot back, and if we can put the time in during the off-season, it should be our time next year.”
Sedlock was wary of the Bobcats coming after Pavelek scored 31 points in Beaver’s comeback victory over District 6 runner-up Penns Valley in the second round on Tuesday.
“They’re a good team, but they’re very young,” she said. “Our girls really wanted it. It all just started on the defensive end, and we kept it rolling.”
Central Cambria bolted to a 9-0 lead at the start and was never threatened as the Red Devils were too quick for the Bobcats. Hayward, a Bloomsburg commit, scored just six first-half points and was shut out in the second quarter.
But Huston understandably was impressed with the 5-foot-5 senior’s overall play.
“She’s not the best scorer we’ve played against, but she’s the best player we’ve played against this year,” he said. “Absolutely. One hundred percent. She’s a nice player. She’s tough.”
Central Cambria dominated the boards and connected on eight 3-point shots, six in the first half.
A pair of three-point plays in the third quarter by Hayward pushed Central Cambria’s lead to 54-29 as the Red Devils held the Bobcats to just one field goal in the third quarter.
Central Cambria used a 17-4 run in the second quarter to pull away to a 39-22 lead at halftime.
The Red Devils shot 4 for 6 from 3-point range during the quarter, including three off the bench by Kiersten Szpala.