Northern Cambria survived a last-minute Portage comeback and earned a berth in the District 6-A semifinals against Conemaugh Valley after a down-to-the-wire 45-44 win over the Mustangs Monday night at Central Cambria High School.

The third-seeded Colts (20-3) led by nine heading into the fourth quarter, and were up 45-40 with 1:11 remaining before two free throws by Andrew Maul and a subsequent steal and layup by Ryan Scoran pulled Portage (15-9) within one. Northern Cambria then missed the front end of a one-and-one with 35.6 seconds to play, and the Mustangs took possession.

Following a time out, Portage held for a final shot, but Maul’s baseline attempt in the waning seconds came up short.

“Neither team deserved to lose,” said Colts coach Dan Weber. “We take pride in our defense and ability to hold teams under 50, and in that last time out, I told them that we needed just one more defensive stop stop in order for us to reach another goal. I knew in the back of my mind we would get that stop.

“(Anthony) Penksa and (Joe) Yuhas rotated well and forced a more difficult shot, and we were able to box out and get the rebound,” Weber said.

Yuhas scored a team-leading 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Colts, while Josh Stiles added 11.

“That was a heck of a ball game,” said Portage coach Travis Kargo, whose team dropped a pair of regular-season contests to the Colts. “Both teams played their hearts out.

“We wanted to keep it close and have a chance at the end, we got a good look, and that’s all you can ask,” Kargo said. “I’m proud of our kids. They never gave up.”

Scoran had a game-high 17 for Portage, while Maul finished with 15 and Sean Cronauer 10. Mike Sinosky had a game-best 12 rebounds for the Mustangs.

The Colts led by three at the end of the first quarter, but Portage opened the second with six straight points to go up 15-12 on a Scoran free throw. A Stiles 3-pointer regained a two-point edge for the Colts at the 6:09 mark, and after a Maul jumper later tied it at 19, another 3-pointer by Stiles in the final minute eventually put Northern Cambria ahead 22-19 at the break.

After six consecutive Mustang points pulled Portage within 30-29 on Cronauer’s layup at 2:52 of the third, Northern Cambria’s defense keyed a run of eight unanswered points to finish the quarter. Yuhas hit a 3-pointer and scored six during the surge, which was capped off by a Brennan Dumm layup.

“We showed a lot of intensity and aggression in the third quarter,” Weber said. “We got some separation, and it turned out that we needed it.”

The Mustangs kept the Colts from pulling away further, as Portage trimmed the 38-29 deficit to five with just under five minutes left.

“We stayed even with them, except when we had a couple of careless turnovers in the third quarter,” Kargo said.

Northern Cambria also helped keep Portage in the game with a 1-of-6 effort at the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

“It’s tough to beat a quality team three times in one year,” Weber said. “We did what we had to do to get to our goal of playing for a district title and making it to the state tournament.”

Trending Video

Recommended for you