By Pete Chiodo
CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS —
Things got a little u-g-l-y as Cochranton and Cambridge Springs went head-to-head in a contentious Region 3 girls basketball battle at the Devils’ Den on Monday night.
The contest included 40 total personal fouls, including one intentional; 67 total turnovers, including 23 calls for traveling; a whole lot of rolling around on the ground and a few sharp elbows thrown in for good measure.
In the end, Cambridge Springs emerged with the only statistic that really mattered — a win. The black-and-Blue Devils defeated the seeing-red Cardinals 44-40.
“You’ll always take a ‘W’,” said Cambridge Springs head coach Rick Grubbs. “Both teams were playing hard. Both teams were physical. I told them, I said ‘You’d better be ready to play hard today.’ Because (Cochranton) is a solid team, they handle the ball, they rebound, they shoot.”
With the win, Cambridge Springs improves to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in Region 3. Cochranton is now 2-2 on the year and 1-1 in the region.
“I knew it was going to be a pretty good game,” said Cards helmsman Gary Egli. “I had heard that (Cambridge Springs) was pretty good. I think we’re pretty good. And I knew it would be physical. And that’s exactly what happened.”
Neither team started the game real hot. Both seemed to struggle against the other’s high-intensity defense. Cambridge Springs turned the ball over six times in the first quarter, Cochranton had nine turnovers.
Those ball handling issues would persist throughout the game. Cochranton would finish with 37 turnovers. Cambridge Springs would give up 30.
“And a lot of those weren’t necessarily forced,” said coach Egli. “A third of them, anyway, were totally unforced. We were in panic mode a couple times. (Cambridge) is very aggressive and very deep and they keep coming in the game and getting in your face.”
About half way through the opening period, Cambridge caught fire from behind the arc. Taylor Babb knocked down two 3-pointers in the quarter and Brianna Babb had one. That opened things up inside for the Blue Devils as well, and they ended the frame with a 12-point scoring run to take a 17-6 lead going into the second.
In that second period, Cochranton was a little more effective on defense. The result was 11 turnovers for Cambridge and only four points. Cochranton turned the ball over eight times and scored 10 points, cutting the Spa’s lead to 21-16 at the half.
“We were having trouble with their match-up zone a little bit,” said Grubbs. “We tried to run our man offense and it just didn’t work.”
Both teams enjoyed runs in the third quarter. Brianna Babb had five steals in the period, including three during a six-point run at the halfway point that gave Cambridge a 30-20 edge.
Yet, Cochranton answered with a five-point run, bringing it back to a two-possession game.
The Spa’s Nicole Dalbec hit a layup right before the buzzer that that made it 32-25 Devils.
In the fourth, Cambridge got a little too aggressive on the defensive end, sending Cochranton to the foul line 20 times in just that one period. The Cardinals made 13 of those attempts, including seven consecutive freebies, which tied the game at 36-36 with 2:38 to play.
Abby Clulow was 7-for-8 from the line in the quarter. Kendall Dickson was 4-for-6.
The Devils’ aggressive “D” also paid some dividends, though. Cochranton could hardly hit from the floor in the fourth. In fact, the Cardinals didn’t have a field goal over the last seven minutes of the game.
Cambridge, on the other hand, knocked them down when it counted. McKayla Zilhaver hit a jumper that halted Cochranton’s seven-point run and gave the lead back to the Devils.
“We broke down a couple times and let them get a couple easy hoops,” said Egli. “And we missed a couple bunnies down the stretch that we worked hard to get and just didn’t convert.”
Zilhaver then fouled out with two minutes to go, joining Brianna Babb who picked up her fifth foul with 5:47 to play.
But Dalbec added a shot to from the field and Paige Wolfrom added two crucial buckets down the stretch that kept the Devils’ heads above water.
“We just couldn’t get that one break to get us over the hump to make them panic,” said Egli. “We’d come close and we’d get a couple chances at it and we could not convert. Then they’d get a bucket and get the momentum back.”
Wolfrom ended up leading the Devils with 14 points. Taylor Babb had nine points with three treys. Zilhaver finished with eight points. Dalbec added six points and a team-best eight rebounds.
For Cochranton, Dickson and Clulow both scored 11 points. Dickson added 11 rebounds for the double-double. Morghan Egli finished with seven points and had six boards.