By Doug Chapin
MINERAL RIDGE — Campbell Memorial recorded the school’s first girls basketball tournament victory of the century and advanced to the district level for the first time since the mid-’90s by posting its third victory of the season over LaBrae High.
The Red Devils defeated the Vikings, 46-43, in Saturday’s first game of a Division III sectional doubleheader.
In the second game, South Range High prevented Campbell from having to face another team for the third time, knocking off fourth-seeded Champion, 44-41.
Second-seeded Campbell (17-3) and South Range (14-8) play Thursday in the second game of a district semifinal doubleheader. Ursuline and United Local meet in the opener at 6 p.m.
“Beating a team three times is tough, it’s just a mindset,” Campbell coach Mike Szenborn said. “You can get complacent a little bit.
“We had a week off and they played a game here, so we had to shake some rust off, we had to overcome some nerves,” Szenborn said. “But we responded well.
“We seemed to get complacent a little in the game and let them get back into it. It’s been a while since we’ve been in that situation and LaBrae is a team that can give you some problems.”
The Red Devils defeated the Vikings by scores of 65-60 and 67-50 during the regular season.
The Vikings (12-10) scored at least the first six points of all four quarters, but Campbell finished strong in each of the first three periods, holding leads at the buzzer of 8-7, 26-17 and 38-27.
LaBrae scored the first seven points of the fourth to close within 38-34, and eventually tied the game at 43-43 with 56 seconds remaining.
Tiffany Colon scored her only point of the game on a free throw with 37 seconds remaining to put Campbell back on top, then a bucket by Iesha Moses at the 11-second mark set the final score.
After a couple of missed free throws, the Red Devils had to survive a last-second 3-point try by LaBrae which went off the front of the rim.
“Free throws were a friend to us tonight,” Szenborn said. “We’ve had some games where that wasn’t the case but we did OK at the line tonight.
“We hit some big free throws down the stretch and Tiffany Colon made a big one that gave us a spark.”
Tashira Uceta led Campbell with 16 points and Moses and Jayaira Ghrim scored 14 apiece. Moses also had eight rebounds and four steals and Ghrim added five steals.
LaBrae was led by Brittani Hill with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Danielle Webber had 11 points and Courtney Aldridge had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Campbell and Champion shared the All-America Conference Blue Division title, splitting two games.
The rubber match won’t be played thanks to South Range, which contained Champion point guard Paige Loychick for three quarters while posting quarter leads of 9-7, 19-13 and 38-22.
In the fourth quarter, Loychick scored 10 of her 14 points and Lindsay Swipas tallied six of her 13 as the Golden Flashes (18-4) gradually closed the gap. Champion got within 42-41 with 49 seconds remaining, then regained possession.
Loychick missed a contested jumper in the key and South Range’s Gabby Naples, who finished with a team-high 10 points, sank two free throws for the Raiders with four seconds remaining.
Loychick’s last-second 3-point try, also contested, was off the mark.
Samantha Smith added nine points and Ellie Stoffer had seven points and seven rebounds for South Range.