Reading High loses to Cumberland Valley in District 3 Class 6A boys basketball semifinal

Feb. 28—MECHANICSBURG — A lack of execution when it mattered most proved too costly for Reading High on Tuesday night, as the sixth-seeded Red Knights fell to second-seeded Cumberland Valley 66-47 in a District 3 Class 6A boys basketball semifinal.

After trailing by seven to start the fourth quarter, Reading High went on a 7-1 run to cut the Eagles' lead to 45-44 with a little over six minutes remaining.

However, a series of missed shots and turnovers allowed the Eagles (23-3) to go on a game-sealing run. Cumberland Valley scored the next 13 points to put the game away before Red Knights senior Nick Chapman went 1-for-2 from the line with 1:55 remaining to stop the run.

"They did a better job executing toward the end of the third and middle of the fourth quarter," Reading High coach Francis Camara said. "They did a better job of executing than we did and they got us on the offensive glass and killed us on the offensive glass.

"They had at least 12-14 second chance points. In the fourth quarter, if we did a better job on the glass, it would have been a tighter game.

"Our guys are fighters. We just didn't execute and they took advantage of it. They're a tough and well-disciplined team. They capitalized on our mistakes and we just didn't finish strong like we have been lately."

Senior Yadiel Cruz scored a game-high 28 points for the three-time defending district champion Red Knights (19-9), but his strong efforts were not enough to overcome the Eagles' balanced offense that dominated the offensive glass.

J.J. Lebo scored a team-high 18 points for Cumberland Valley, while Nolan Buzalka scored 17 points and had 10 rebounds. Crestin Austin scored 11 points and had seven rebounds and Jake Snyder had nine points and four rebounds for the Eagles.

Senior Malik Osumanu scored four points and tied fellow senior Nick Chapman with a team-high four rebounds for Reading High. Chapman also scored eight points and had four steals and sophomore Weshly Rosario had four points and four assists.

A 3-pointer from Red Knights senior Daquan Burgess cut Cumberland Valley's lead to 45-42 with 7:12 to go before Yadiel Cruz went 2-for-2 from the line moments later to put Reading High in striking distance prior to the decisive run.

"We turned the ball over a couple of times on those possessions which hurt," Camara said. "A couple of times we didn't get good shots which hurt. They got out in transition and we gave up transition baskets. We're usually the faster team, but they capitalized on it and that hurt us.

"A big team getting easy baskets, especially with a lead in their gym and with the momentum, that's what happened."

Reading High trailed 31-25 at the start of the third quarter but started to shift the momentum in its favor after opening up the third with an 8-2 run in which Cruz scored six points. The Red Knights forced turnovers on back-to-back possessions before Cruz tied the game at 33-33 on a layup.

The momentum swing was short lived though, as Cumberland Valley closed out the quarter with the hotter hand and went on an 11-4 run. Buzalka and Austin each scored four points during the sequence.

Early in the third, Reading High started using somewhat of a full-court trap in an attempt to turn defense into offense with some success.

"At the end of the day, the trap just to slow things down," Camara said. "We didn't really (use a) full-court trap, maybe more of a three-quarter slow down type of trap, and we do get turnovers out of that. The main goal of that is to slow teams down and make them look twice.

"We actually got a couple of turnovers out of that coming out of the half anyway. We turned those into a couple of transition baskets and we started the (second) half off pretty well. But like I said, down the stretch we just didn't execute and let some of their key guys get to their spots which is tough."

Cruz led all scorers at the half with 14 points and the Red Knights led 13-11 after the first quarter. Reading High led 20-15 in the second quarter before Cumberland Valley went on a commanding 16-5 run to close out the first half.

With the loss, the Red Knights will host eighth-seeded Red Lion in the third-place game Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Geigle. Reading High has already qualified for the PIAA playoffs, which begin on Saturday, March 9.

"It is about tightening up everything," Camara said about preparing for the state playoffs. "Obviously, rebounding hurt us today. We work on it every day in practice anyway, so it's not as if we're going to kind of put a different emphasis on anything. We work on the important things that we need to work on every day in practice."