Emily McCray helped the Conemaugh Valley girls earn a spot in today’s championship contest of the Richland Holiday Classic as the Blue Jays defeated Richland 52-43 while on the boys side, the host Rams had four players score in double figures and nine players who contributed points as Richland belted Conemaugh Valley 83-43.
McCray scored a game-high 24 points, pulled down nine boards and blocked five shots. Conemaugh Valley will take on Tussey Mountain, a 50-29 winner over Homer-Center, in the title game set for tonight at 6 p.m.
“I knew they were going to press us and probably play man and that we would have to be able to break the press and basically penetrate and drive to the basket,” said McCray, who scored the majority of her points in the paint.
The Blue Jays (3-2) never trailed and were ahead by as many as 10 points in the first quarter before taking a 17-8 advantage to start the second and the Rams were down by nine at the break.
McCray picked up her fourth foul early in the third quarter and had to sit for most of the frame.
“Emily is the one who takes charge out on the floor and when she got that fourth one, it just wasn’t a smart foul,” Blue Jays coach Teri Cruse said. “Emily is our most consistent player right now offensively and as far as rebounding. But I thought Rebecca Hagerich did a wonderful job of coming in and getting some boards and scoring some points (10) that Emily would have been scoring for us.”
The Rams (1-6), who outscored the Jays 14-13 in the fourth, were led by freshman Samantha Ballow, who scored 12 points while teammates Emily Dabbs and Christina Rizzo added 10 points each.
“We lost that game in the first couple minutes,” Richland coach Nathan Gironda said. “We were down 12-2 and we ended up losing by nine points. We have been starting slow and have to figure out a way to get a better start.”
Richland (5-1) will play for the boys crown tonight in the championship set for 7:30, taking on Homer-Center, a 60-46 victor over Tussey Mountain.
Jake Lushko and Jonny Kutchman each scored 18 points for the Rams, who also got 14 points from Matt Shaffer and 12 from Ryan Ball.
“We have so many guys that can play the game of basketball, that we share the ball and if the open guy gets the ball, that generally creates good shots and good shots go in,” Richland boys coach Greg Burke said. “We have that thought process that we don’t care who scores as long as we score and that will make us a lot stronger by the end of the year and I think you saw that out here tonight.”
Richland led 24-13 after the first and outscored Conemaugh Valley 23-7 for a commanding 47-20 halftime lead and never looked back.
Blake Furman paced the Blue Jays (3-2) with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Note: The girls’ consolation between Richland and Homer-Center is set for 2:30 p.m. today with the boys’ consolation featuring the Titans and Blue Jays, to follow.