Sat. Mar 25th, 2023

Penn Cambria’s Vinny Chirdon (five) and Easton Semelsberger celebrate the victory. / Mirror photo by Michael Boytim

WEXFORD — A year ago, Penn Cambria produced it to the second round of the PIAA playoffs and got “whooped” by Montour in coach Jim Ronan’s words.

In the initial quarter of Wednesday’s PIAA Class 3A second-round game against Steel Valley at North Allegheny Higher College, it was the Panthers carrying out the whooping.

Penn Cambria went six-for-11 from three-point variety in the initial quarter to make a 14-point lead and then got hot from deep once again in the fourth quarter right after the Ironmen fought back in a 66-57 historic win that marked the initial time the Panthers have won two state playoff games in the identical tournament.

“That was our objective going into the season,” Ronan stated. “To build a legacy that no other Penn Cambria group has ever produced. They have been on a mission. They definitely have been.”

Penn Cambria had previously sophisticated into the PIAA quarterfinals by beating District five champion Everett when the “Class B” state playoffs started with 16 teams in 1967 but lost that game to Turtle Creek. This time, the Panthers foe will be District ten champion Franklin in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

Steel Valley star Mahkai Valentine, who came into the game averaging a lot more than 35 points per game and scored 42 in the initial round against Bedford, completed with 29 points, although he had just 3 in the initial quarter.

“This is large,” Penn Cambria senior Vinny Chirdon stated. “To be on the group that sophisticated additional than any other Penn Cambria group and be element of that is amazing. We knew it was going to be dogfight against Mahkai Valentine. He’s a stud. It is hard to quit him. You just have to include him, but we just had guys stepping up all evening.”

Valentine caught fire in the second half and produced a three-pointer although falling more than in the corner with two Penn Cambria defenders draped all more than him to give Steel Valley a 51-48 lead just ahead of the third-quarter buzzer. He also produced a almost half-court three-pointer just ahead of the buzzer went off at the finish of the initial half.

“We wanted to choose him up super higher with two guys, simply because he can shoot from halfcourt with ease,” Ronan stated. “Once we got the ball out of his hands, we wanted to keep up and deny him obtaining the ball back, and it worked. Ordinarily, as soon as he got rid of the ball, he didn’t touch the ball a lot.”

Penn Cambria didn’t blink, having said that, and scored the initial ten points of the fourth quarter, like three-pointers by Zach Grove and Chirdon. In the back of their minds, the Panthers have been determined not to repeat final year’s loss to Montour.

“We stayed the course and didn’t let that influence us,” stated senior Garrett Harrold, who had one more monster game with 23 points and 13 rebounds. “We didn’t hang our heads about what occurred final year. We had larger targets. We knew if we competed and played to the ideal of our capacity, we could do this.”

Valentine scored all six of Steel Valley’s fourth-quarter points, but the Ironmen in no way got inside 5 points right after Penn Cambria’s run to start out the quarter.

“This indicates anything to the players, the coaches,” Harrold stated. “The perform we’ve place in, this indicates anything. We just produced history tonight. It is remarkable to be element of. Our group and our neighborhood have been remarkable.”

Steel Valley was playing devoid of its head coach, Dale Chapman, who was suspended by the WPIAL for the postseason concerning a player-security concern centered about Valentine re-getting into a game right after a fall.

“For what they have been by way of in the final month, I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Steel Valley interim coach Lauren Varacalli stated. “Our head coach was taken away from us, and that plays a element, when he’s a father figure. They fought by way of it. They fought like hell for a month. I told them not to hang their heads. At the finish of the day, they are nonetheless higher college youngsters who do not know how to tackle this and get by way of this. When you drop a father figure like Chap, it hurts.”

The Panthers went six-for-six from the foul line in the final minute to seal the victory.

“I knew we have been going to retain shooting it, and I knew we had a lot of mentally-robust youngsters that think in themselves,” Ronan stated. “That’s what we have completed all year is shoot the 3s and play defense, and we’re going to keep with that. Vinny, Easton (Semelsberger) and Garrett shoot tremendously properly, and Grove hit a clutch three. He’s hit clutch shots, and Gavin (Harrold) hit one particular as well.”

Ronan, who is also Penn Cambria’s baseball coach, stated he’s fine with that season becoming place on hold for now.

“Absolutely,” Ronan stated. “You know how the climate is up our way anyway. I do not want to be out there any sooner than I have to be. I’ll take inside the health club for a couple a lot more weeks, if we can.”

STEEL VALLEY (57): Norris five – 12, Hough – , Yuhas two – five, Brookins two 1-four five, Valentine ten two-four 29, Yersetti two – four, McKeever – , Barksdale 1 – two. Totals — 22 three-eight 57.

PENN CAMBRIA (66): Chirdon four two-two 13, Grove three 1-three eight, Gar. Harrold five 11-12 23, Shuagis 1 two-four five, Semelsberger four 1-two 12, Gav. Harrold two – five, McDermott – . Totals — 19 17-23 66.


Steel Valley 9 21 21 six — 57

Penn Cambria 23 13 12 18 — 66

three-point targets: Steel Valley ten (Valentine 7, Norris two, Yuhas) Penn Cambria 11 (Chirdon three, Semelsberger three, Gar. Harrold two, Grove, Gav. Harrold, Shuagis)

Records: Steel Valley (16-11) Penn Cambria (23-five)

Officials: Dan Coleman, John Lienert, Dave Shinsky

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By Editor

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