EBENSBURG – The historic and magical run continued for the Penn Cambria High School girls basketball team on Friday night.
The District 6 Class AAA champion Panthers built an early advantage and never relented in a 70-37 victory over District 7 fifth-place Washington High at Central Cambria High School.
Penn Cambria, which won its first district crown since 1993 this season, collected the first PIAA Tournament victory in girls program history.
“It’s amazing, the first team to win a state playoff game,” said Penn Cambria senior Makalyn Clapper, who scored 12 points.
“To be part of that is just exceptional.”
Penn Cambria (21-6) advanced to play District 3 runner-up Delone Catholic, a winner over Lewisburg Area, in the second round on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. Washington closed a 19-6 season.
“That was history right there,” Penn Cambria coach Keith Saleme said. “We never won a state game. First time in the program’s history. We won a state game.
“I’m happy for the program and the community.
“This shows how hard these girls have worked and how far they’ve come in a short amount of time.”
Senior forward Ryanna Hockenos had a team-high 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Panthers. She had 12 points in the second half as Penn Cambria outscored Washington 38-18 in the final two quarters.
“I think it’s super special that we can be the team that comes together and is achieving the goals where we’re the first in Penn Cambria history to ever do it,” Hockenos said. “It’s amazing.”
Senior point guard Emmy Harvey added 10 points and was a key part of a suffocating Penn Cambria defense that gave Washington fits.
“When we frazzle a team then we are more into it because we can sense their frustration,” Harvey said. “Our press definitely helped us a lot with that because they are used to dribbling through it.”
Washington senior guard Carly Allen scored all nine of her team’s first-quarter points and finished with 13 to lead the Prexies.
“I thought we got out to a little bit of a slow start, maybe some nerves,” Saleme said.
“But as the game went on, we dug our heels in and we got the result we wanted.”