CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — It’s no secret that the Cambridge Springs girls basketball team has had the number of the Maplewood Tigers in recent memory. The Blue Devils had won all nine contests since Kyle Krepps took over the Tiger program before the 2015-16 season.
With both teams bringing in identical 6-1 overall records and unblemished Region 2 records into Monday’s matchup in Cambridge Springs, the Tigers couldn’t have picked a better time to end Blue Devils’ winning streak in the rivalry. Maplewood overcame a 12-point first half deficit en route to stunning the pro-Cambridge Springs crowd and dealing the homestanding Blue Devils a 58-50 defeat.
Four Tigers (7-1 overall, 6-0 Region 2) finished in double figures, as Sadie Thomas led the team with 18 points. Liliane Moorhead chipped in a career-high 15 points, while Jordan Roser and Izzy Eimer added 16 and 11 points, respectively.
Brooke Myers scored 18 points to pace the Blue Devils (6-2 overall, 4-1 Region 2). Ashton Hoover (16) and Mackenzie Yanc (10) also contributed double digits in points.
At the start, it appeared that the Blue Devils were in control as normal thanks to an abnormally great performance at the free throw line. Cambridge Springs made all eight shots from the charity stripe in the first quarter and then finished the half with 10 more for a jaw-dropping 18 for 18 showing through the first two quarters.
“I’m pretty sure I told (my players) about four of five times to stop putting them at the line,” Krepps said. “We stressed that it was going to be a tightly called game, and it was. We just got undisciplined at times on defense. We were putting our hands in places they shouldn’t have been.”
Meanwhile, the Tiger offense was cold from the floor in the first 16 minutes. Cambridge Springs held Maplewood without one of its patented 3-pointers until late in the second quarter.
Those two factors allowed Cambridge Springs to take its largest lead of the evening, at 25-13, with 3:53 left in the first half.
Despite the rough start offensively, Krepps wanted his team to keep shooting, knowing the Tigers would eventually break through.
“Even if we are cold at the start, you always have to have the shooter’s mentality that eventually they are going to go in,” Krepps said. “When Izzy (Eimer) made her one-legged, off-balanced first one that banked went in, I think it opened things up a little bit and got us going the rest of the way. We’re not going to stop shooting or slow down, that’s for sure.”
Eimer connected of Maplewood’s first triple with 2:50 left on the clock in the second quarter, and made another following a Cambridge Springs turnover that was part of a 13-0 run that trimmed the Tiger deficit to just one point, at 26-25. Cambridge Springs remained in front at the intermission, 31-28, but Maplewood built some confidence needed for the final two quarters.
Maplewood took its first lead of the night, 40-38, following a three-point play by Thomas with 3:00 remaining in the third period. Thomas and Moorhead began to find a rhythm together in the post for the Tigers in the second half. On multiple occasions, Thomas would drive the ball in the lane, drawing in two defenders, and then dish it off to Moorhead for an easy bucket in the paint. Krepps believed the play of his younger post players was the “key to the game.”
“They were tremendous,” Krepps said. “They shadowed Jordan (Roser), but when Sadie drove and found Liliane a bunch of times, I thought it was the key — those two working inside the way they did. Liliane also had to guard a quicker player on defense, and she did a tremendous job.”
With its 17-9 third quarter, the Tigers took a 45-40 advantage into the final period of play. Maplewood used a pair of triples from Roser and one from Thomas at the beginning of the fourth to grab its biggest lead, at 58-46, with 2:54 left to play.
Following a Cambridge Springs timeout, the Blue Devils began to chip away by creating turnovers using their full-court pressure defense. Maplewood committed giveaways on two of three possessions after the stop in action, and Cambridge Springs cut its deficit to five, at 59-54, with just under two minutes to go. A Maddie Yanc 3-pointer with 24.5 seconds left cut the Maplewood advantage to 62-60.
After keeping the Blue Devils off the free throw line in the third period and limiting them to just a 1 for 4 clip in the fourth, the Tigers showed that they, too, could be clutch in similar situations. In the final minute, Maplewood went 8 for 8 at the charity stripe, as Eimer, Megan Mangus, Roser and Thomas each made a pair of attempts that helped seal the victory.
“We’ve been struggling a while with them, and Cambridge (was) incredibly good with them,” Roser said after the victory. “It was key for us to put those in because it really helped win the game for us.”
Roser, who scored nine of her 16 points in the fourth quarter, is one of four seniors who hadn’t beaten the Blue Devils until Monday. She called the victory “the best thing that could have happened” for her team.
“We’re on a pretty good winning streak, and we needed the confidence that this win gives us,” Roser said. “To show that we play so well as a team, it’s really big, and we’ve been working for this our whole careers.”
Krepps also called the win “huge” for his program.
“I’m not going to go over-celebrate considering I’m 1-9 against (Cambridge Springs coach) Rod (Dies), but we needed this one,” he said. “It’s maybe the one that we needed to go to that next level.”
Maplewood will have a few days to rest up before the Tigers head to Sharon for a 4:30 p.m. matchup on Friday.