Sun. Dec 3rd, 2023

One year ago, Jess Valeria won the most valuable player award on her way to leading the Northern Cambria Lady Colts to the championship in the Lady Blue Devil Classic. Wednesday night, Valeria and the Lady Colts repeated history, defending their title with a 51-39 win over host Bellwood-Antis. Valeria once again captured the tournament most valuable player award and scored 11 points in the championship game despite a game plan designed to stop her.
“We were trying to stop Jess Valeria; she\’s a really good player, and we knew we needed to contain her and hope the other girls didn\’t step up and make shots, but they did. You have to tip your hat to those girls for stepping up and making their shots,” Bellwood-Antis Head Coach Nick Lovrich said.
Meanwhile, Northern Cambria held Bellwood-Antis star Lauren Carter to only 12 points, one of her lowest offensive outputs of the season. The Lady Colts used a two-three zone that collapsed on Carter to keep the ball away from the 6-foot center.
Freshman Liz Erickson picked up some of the slack with 12 points, including a 4-5 performance from the free throw line, an aspect of her game in which she has been struggling, to keep the Lady Blue Devils close in the first half of the game.
“We need her to step up and produce for us, and she did that tonight. Defensively she didn\’t do too bad; offensively she stepped up, and she put her foul shots in which is good for her,” Lovrich said.
While the Lady Blue Devils keyed their defense on stopping Jess Valeria, Jen Valeria was lighting up the scoreboard for the Lady Colts with five 3-pointers among her game-high 19 points.
Northern Cambria used four 3-pointers, all by the Valeria sisters, to take a 26-21 lead at halftime. The 11 piints were Jess Valeria’s lowest total of the season.
With the game tied at 13, the Lady Colts took off on a 7-0 run and threatened to put the game away in the first half, but two 3-pointers from sophomore Amanda Ingram brought Bellwood-Antis to within three before Betty Petrisko made a layup for Northern Cambria to set the halftime score.
“Amanda is going to be getting more playing time; she\’s been consistent on her outside shooting, and that\’s something that we need. She\’s not afraid to put it up, and she makes very good decisions out there on the floor,” Lovrich said.
Carter opened the second half with a layup to bring Bellwood-Antis back within three, but Northern Cambria used an 11-2 run to take control of the game.
The shots kept falling for the Lady Colts, and they took a 46-29 advantage into the final quarter.
Bellwood-Antis, a team that concentrates on defense and a methodical, pound the paint and get layups strategy had no chance to recover. Neither team scored a point for almost half of the quarter, and although the Lady Blue Devils outscored Northern Cambria 10-5 in the fourth quarter, it was not nearly enough to chip away the Lady Colts lead.
The win gave Valeria and the Lady Colts (7-1 overall) their second championship win in the Lady Blue Devil Classic\’s five years. Westmont Hilltop also has won the tournament twice.
Bellwood-Antis (3-6) returns to Juniata Valley League competition Monday when they travel to Glendale. The junior varsity game begins at 6 p.m.
Consolation Game
Alyssa Deal nailed a 3-pointer with 1:30 left to seal a 50-35 victory for Moniteau in the consolation game against Northern Bedford. Moniteau played keep-away in the final quarter to assure that Northern Bedford never got within seven points.
Jen and Jess Valeria from Northern Cambria, Alyssa Deal and Amanda Gladd of Moniteau, and Northern Bedford’s Danis Kilgore joined Carter on the All-Tournament Team.
Northern Cambria 51 Bellwood-Antis 39
NORTHERN CAMBRIA – Jen Valeria 7 0-0 19, Mazurak 3 1-2 7, Rocco 2 0-0 4, Jess Valeria 3 4-4 11, Shedock 2 0-0 4, Younger 0 0-0 0, Hancharik 1 0-0 2, Stephens 1 0-0 2, Petrisko 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 20 5-6 51.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS – Smith 1 0-1 2, Lechner 1 0-0 3, Webb 0 0-0 0, Erickson 4 4-5 12, Carter 6 0-0 12, Ingram 2 0-0 6, Hunter 0 0-0 0, Parson 1 0-0 2, Lombardo 0 2-2 2, Riley 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 15 6-8 39.
Score by Quarters
Northern Cambria 11 15 20 5 – 51
Bellwood-Antis 9 12 8 10 – 39
Three-point goals: Northern Cambria 6 (Jen Valeria 5, Jess Valeria).
Bellwood-Antis 3 (Ingram 2, Lechner).

By Rick