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Allegany routs city rival Fort Hill, 53-23, in region quarterfinals

Feb. 29—CUMBERLAND — You can't win if you don't score, and Allegany made that look like an impossible task for Fort Hill on Wednesday night.

The Campers did their homework, forcing the Sentinels off their dominant hands, calling out ball screens and grabbing seemingly every defensive rebound.

Fort Hill didn't score until the second quarter and had just two first-half field goals, and third-seeded Allegany, playing in just its second game in two weeks, built a 38-4 halftime lead en route to a 53-23 drubbing in the Class 1A West Region I quarterfinals.

"We haven't played many games the past two weeks, and we had a pretty fast start," Allegany head coach Jim O'Neal said. "We were able to get in a rhythm pretty quickly, especially offensively, after having one game in two weeks. I was really impressed with how the kids handled that situation."

The win was Allegany's eighth in a row and pushed the Campers' season mark to 15-7 heading into a road test at second-seeded Mountain Ridge (20-3) in the region semifinals on Friday night.

Avery Miller and Shylah Taylor carried the load for Allegany once again on offense. Miller flirted with a triple-double, ending with 18 points, 11 rebounds and nine steals, and Taylor just missed a double-double with 18 points and nine boards.

Fort Hill, which finishes its first season under head coach Mike Allen with a 2-18 record, was paced by Aubry Spangler and Nevaeh Bunbasi with seven and six points, respectively.

Allegany led 17-0 after the first quarter, and Fort Hill didn't impact the scoreboard until the 7:30 mark of the second period when Spangler split Miller and Taylor in transition for a bucket.

The Sentinels didn't score again until Talia Young banked in a midrange look with 2:26 left in the half, which cut the Allegany lead to 27-4. The Campers responded by scoring 11 straight points to lead by 34 at the half.

Ella Shade scored five points in the first quarter for Allegany, and Amanda Vizza added four before halftime.

Both teams rotated in substitutes throughout the second half, and Fort Hill outscored Allegany, 19-15, after halftime.

"They're a good basketball team," Allen said. "We knew we had to play almost perfect ball to beat them, and we weren't able to do that. We had a lot of turnovers, a lot of mistakes that you can't make in a playoff game.

"Just believe. That was my key tonight. Normally I have a whole bunch of keys, and tonight it was only one: believe. It's hard to do against a good team like Allegany."

While Fort Hill had some success on offense during the second half, that came against a 2-3 Allegany zone. The Sentinels never found an answer for the Campers' man-to-man defense they played before halftime.

"We were able to play good man-to-man, keep them in front of us," O'Neal said. "Plus we were able to recognize what they were trying to accomplish against us, take that away, and force them into some areas where they weren't comfortable.

"The kids looked like they were ready to play. They always give 100% every night."

Allegany now turns to the region semifinals, where it'll take on the defending region and area champions and a 2022-23 Class 1A state finalist in Mountain Ridge on Friday at 6 p.m.

The Campers lost a pair of tight games to Ridge, 57-48 and 50-48, during the regular season.

Fort Hill now begins its offseason with the goal of competing in the postseason at this time next year.

"Building a program is usually a three-year plan, and when you're competing against your rival, you don't have three years," Allen said. "You have to do it now. To get them to put it all together in one year is tough, but I thought they did the best they could."

Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.