READING — Diamond Bragg left Santander Arena in downtown Reading Sunday afternoon with a decree.
Her Camp Hill Lions, she said, will return.
With a roster full of underclassmen, the Lions went cold at the chilly arena and dropped a 48-42 decision to District 11 runner-up Mahanoy Area in a PIAA Class 2A girls basketball quarterfinal.
Bragg put the loss on her shoulders but maintained the confidence that fueled Mid-Penn Capital and District 3 championships before this state run.
“Let’s just say you’ll see us next year at the Giant Center,” she said after scoring 20 points on just 10-for-32 shooting.
Her 0-for-11 mark from the 3-point arc summarized the tough night for the Lions (23-6), who drilled 12 treys in Friday’s second-round win but went just 2-for-23 against the Golden Bears (22-5).
“That’s what we stressed. I mean, we stressed it all year, all the time,” said Mahanoy head coach Tom Scheeler, whose team earns a rematch with District 11 champ Minersville in Tuesday’s semifinals, site and time to be determined.
Minersville smoked West Catholic 75-58 in another Sunday quarterfinal.
“Shutting a team down like that after what they did the other night, I thought our girls really executed our defensive plan really well.”
Scheeler’s bunch showed better depth than the Lions, with all seven players scoring, six of them at least four points. And the girl with just one point, Madison Cavenas, grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.
“And actually we could go one or two more without losing a whole lot,” Scheeler said. “I know they’ve been playing six, so our goal was to run and run and keep them on their toes.”
While the first half was a game of runs for both squads — it was tied 20-20 at intermission — the third quarter saw the teams trading buckets.
That ended when Jayda Byrne’s drive to beat the third-quarter buzzer snapped a 32-32 tie and kickstarted what would become a game-changing 10-0 surge.
The Lions, meanwhile, missed their first 10 shots of the fourth quarter.
“We knew we weren’t going to get a lot of wide-open 3s because of the way they play defense,” Camp Hill coach Mark Clarke said. “Diamond can get her 3-ball off whenever she wants, but obviously she didn’t shoot too well today, and she wasn’t making some of her finishes.
“They’re exceptional defensively. They’re good at helping on the drive but quickly recovering out to open players and pressuring the ball.”
Megan Biscoe paced the Golden Bears with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and the last her three 3-pointers capped that 10-0 run with 6:00 left that had her squad in front 42-32.
Abbey McGee, who played terrific defensively, added 11 points for Mahanoy, which shot 37 percent (15 of 41) to Camp Hill’s 31 percent (18 of 59).
“I honestly believe it was myself,” said Bragg, who added nine rebounds, two assists and four steals. “I just think if I could have hit more shots, it could have been a completely different game. They did have really good defense, but I definitely put that on myself, not on their D. I definitely could have done something different.”
With Sheridan Reid (eight points) and Passion Bragg (nine points, 12 rebounds) fouling out in the fourth, Camp Hill still showed fight, slicing that 10-point deficit to 42-38 with 1:41 left. But the Golden Bears sank six of eight free throws over the final 85 seconds to seal it.
“We weren’t prepared for it to end right now; none of us were,” Clarke said. “But the way they kept battling right to the bitter end is what I’m most proud of, and that’s what makes them champions, really, even though we didn’t get to our final destination. If they keep fighting through adversity like that, that will help them in the long run.”