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Late Run Lifts Penn Cambria Past Franklin in PIAA 3A Boys Quarterfinals

Cole Buckley had 21 points for Franklin in its loss to Penn Cambria Saturday.

KITTANNING, Pa. – Using a 12-2 run in the last two minutes of the game Penn Cambria advanced to the PIAA semifinals for the first time in school history with a 61-53 win over Franklin in the Class 3A boys’ quarterfinals at Armstrong High School Saturday afternoon.


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“The kids had a great season,” Franklin head coach Jason Fulmer said. “The seniors, I am proud as hell of them. If you had told me three years ago that out of these seniors, I would have two starting seniors I would have said maybe one. Credit to those guys. They stuck with it, battled.”

Battled would be a good word to describe Franklin’s game against Penn Cambria, as the Knights played from behind nearly the entire afternoon.

Penn Cambria, the District 6 champion, led 33-27 at halftime on the strength of eight first-half 3-pointers and then built the lead to 11 twice in the third quarter the latest being 44-33 on two Garrett Harrold free throws with just over a minute to play in the third quarter.


But Franklin got an offensive rebound and putback from Cole Buckley before the end of the third quarter and then turned to their press to start the fourth quarter on a 12-3 run to tie the game at 47 on a Damon Curry bucket with 4:35 to play.

“In that fourth quarter we got them turned up,” Fulmer said. “We got some good steals and got some runouts.”

Harrold, who was a beast for Penn Cambria with a game-high 29 points, gave the Panthers the lead back with four minutes to play, 49-47, but Buckley tied the game at 49 for the Knights with 2:56 left.

Franklin then got a turnover, and Buckley had a chance to give the Knights the lead but missed a short jumper.

On the other end, Harrold got a screen from Luke Shuagis and buried a 3-pointer from about four or five feet behind the arc at the top of the key to put Penn Cambria back in front for good.

Watch the sequence of Buckley missing the shot and Harrold nailing the three

Harrold’s three started a 7-0 spurt by the Panthers with Harrold scoring all seven points, including the last four from the free-throw line.

“Not being so deep, it concerns me to go press early and then run out of gas down the stretch,” Fulmer said. “And a little bit of that had to do with that in the fourth quarter. We pressed, got some easy buckets, and used up a lot of energy in that press flying around, and then the offense gets a little stagnant in the halfcourt. Guys aren’t moving and creating as much as they should.”

Aiden McCracken got Franklin back within five, 56-51, with a baseline drive with 32.5 seconds left, but Penn Cambria hit five of six free throws down in the final 28.2 seconds with the Panthers rebounding the lone miss.

Penn Cambria, which came into the game averaging nearly 10 made 3-pointers per game while shooting nearly 36 percent from behind the arc, used eight first-half 3-pointers on 8 of 16 shooting in the half, to build the six-point halftime lead.

But despite trailing at the break, Fulmer believed his team was in good shape considering it shot just 8 of 24 in the first half with Curry, the Knights’ junior star, being held scoreless in the half.


“We talked at halftime, that was probably the worst percentage we shot all year long,” Fulmer said. “For whatever reason, basketball, they just rattle out every once in a while. Credit to Penn Cambria. They shot well in the first half. But as well as they shot and how poorly we shot I sure would like to do a redo.”

Franklin’s shooting woes continued in the third quarter when the Knights shot just 3 of 12 and didn’t score until an old-school 3-point play by Jalen wood with 4:09 left in the quarter. Those were Wood’s only three points of the game.

The Knights did heat up in the fourth quarter going 9 of 15 from the floor, including a pair of old-school threes by Ethan Owens, and the Franklin defense limited Penn Cambria to just two threes in the second half, both in the fourth quarter. But it wasn’t enough to overcome the cold shooting through the first three frames.

“Guys didn’t hit shots,” Fulmer said. “Jalen didn’t hit a three, and he was shooting 44% behind the arc all year long. Damon struggled behind the arc. They are a big part. Damon and Jalen all year have hit big shots behind the arc for us. Penn Cambria is a good team. We are a good team. I just don’t know if we got all the breaks shooting percentage tonight.”

Vinny Chirdon added 16 points for Penn Cambria.

Buckley led Franklin with 21 points with Owens adding 11.

Penn Cambria will face WPIAL champion Deer Lakes in the PIAA semifinals Tuesday at a site and time to be announced.



Score by Quarters

Franklin 12 15 8 18 – 53
Penn Cambria 17 16 11 17 – 61


Ethan Owens 4 3-3 11, Cole Buckley 9 2-2 21, Jalen Wood 1 1-1 3, Dreyden Payne 3 1-2 7, Jonathan Leccia 1 2-2 4, Aiden McCracken 1 2-2 2, Damon Curry 2 0-0 5. Totals 21 9-10 53.


Easton Semelsberger 1 3-4 6, Luke Shuagis 2 1-2 7, Gavin Harrold 1 0-0 3, Branden Rubish 0 0-0 0, Garrett Harrold 7 12-12 29, Derek Hite 0 0-0 0, Carter McDermott 0 0-0 0, Zach Grove 0 0-0 0, Vinny Chirdon 5 3-4 16. Totals 16 19-21 61.

Three-pointers: Franklin 2 (Buckley, Curry). Penn Cambria 10 (Garrett Harrold 3, Chirdon 3, Shuagis 2, Semelsberger, Gavin Harrold).

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