PATTON – Following a shocking exit from the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference playoffs in 2019, the Central Cambria girls basketball team was determined not to let history repeat itself.
Traveling to face No. 2 Cambria Heights, the Red Devils also faced a tall task in uprooting a team they had lost to twice this season.
Paced by 23 points from senior Cassidy Bezek, Central Cambria dominated the paint and on the boards to earn the upset and a trip to the LHAC finals, 60-55.
“I am speechless right now. My girls played so hard, and they wanted it so bad,” Central Cambria coach Brittany Sedlock said. “They played unselfish basketball. It didn’t matter who scored, and it didn’t matter who got the rebound. They played wholeheartedly together, and they wanted to win … It was a complete team win, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
All night long, Bezek and Liz Bopp (14 points) wreaked havoc from inside the paint.
With Cambria Heights forward Emily Henry nursing a wrist injury suffered early in the game, the Red Devils were able to power their way to the hoop and crashed the boards to favorable results.
“This is incredible. We’re so happy that we can do this for our program,” Bezek said.
“Coming back from that loss last year against Penn Cambria, that’s never something you want to experience twice. We wanted to play good defense and not let anything like that ever happen again.”
Last season, Central Cambria was upset in the finals seconds of semifinal round with a buzzer-beating trey from Penn Cambria’s Makalyn Clapper.
Late in this year’s game, it appeared as though things were slowly slipping away again.
The Red Devils (16-7) led by 12 midway through the third, highlighted by a personal 7-0 run from Bezek, but Cambria Heights (20-3) clawed its way back.
A bucket from Abby Lobick – the 1,000th point of her career - brought Cambria Heights within two with just over two minutes left to play.
“I never considered it even a possibility for myself,” said Lobick, who joins Chloe Weakland as the second Highlander to net her 1,000th point this season.
“I was always just focused on my role on the team, and that was never really to score. I really liked giving good assists, but I think it’s just because of the amazing teammates and coaches that I’ve had over the years. They brought me to where I am right now.”
Those two points from Lobick were conceded almost as soon as they were earned. As Lobick netted point No. 1,000, all five Highlanders on the court joined together to celebrate.
The buzzer did not sound and play resumed, however, and the Red Devils took the ball down the court uncontested to increase the lead back to four. A pair of successful free throws in the final minute from Abby Walwro closed out the game.
“I think that Central Cambria played the best game this year,” Cambria Heights coach Amber Fees said. “I think they played really hard, and I think we played passive. We were slow tonight.
“I don’t know if it’s because we just played yesterday or what the reason be, but (Central Cambra) deserved this win.”