Playing without head coach Carie Jansen due to sickness, and against Vandalia's human highlight reel Amber Bruno, the Lady Pirates were up against it in Monday night's regional tournament game.
In spite of the challenges, Cumberland came out ready to battle and trailed by just one point with two minutes to play in the third. It was all Vandalia from there, however, as the Lady Vandals, behind Bruno's 34-point effort, pulled away for a 62-45 win.
"(Amber's) phenomenal, she always gives it her all," Cumberland assistant coach Alexis Nichols said. "She's got a great shot, gives it 100 percent and is just a fantastic player."
It was Bruno's defense, on the other hand, that proved to be the difference. Needing a spark, Vandalia employed a full-court press late in the third quarter, forcing Cumberland ball handlers to the sideline for a quick trap.
The defense worked flawlessly, as Bruno came up with the ball on three straight Cumberland possessions and hit open teammates for a 5-0 run to close the period. Lay-ups from Karlie Bright and Morgan Cripe gave Vandalia a 40-34 advantage through three quarters of action.
"We fell apart there a little at the end," Nichols said. "We had a hard time coming back."
Vandalia would keep its foot on the gas early in the fourth, forcing five more steals in the early minutes of the quarter to stretch the lead. Two more quick buckets from Bright and Bruno's drive to the hoop put the Lady Vandals ahead 51-37.
Cumberland's Kamisha Holsapple would connect on a pair of three-pointers to close the game to 53-42 with four minutes to play, but it would prove to be too little, too late. Bruno was poised down the stretch, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter to lift Vandalia to the win.
Holsapple paced Cumberland with 21 points, and fellow senior Tiffany Shull scored 15 points for the Lady Pirates in their final games.
"They're seniors, and they have been playing together since they were in the third grade," Nichols said. "They work well together."
Unfortunately for Cumberland, the pair would choose opposite times to get hot. Shull was a force in the first half, scoring all 15 of her points in the first two quarters.
The Lady Pirates started the game on fire, as Shull scored the first eight Cumberland points to build an 8-3 lead. Shull was terrific in the second quarter as well, playing both in the post and beyond the arc to test the Vandalia defense. Her last bucket on a mid-range jumper made it 27-24 Vandalia at the break.
From there it was Holsapple's turn, the guard scored 16 of her 21 after halftime. But with Vandalia able to deal with just one major offensive threat at a time, the Lady Vandals were able to to limit the Cumberland attack.
Senior Micah Siebert was another bright spot for Cumberland, carving out space in the lane for eight points and 13 rebounds.
"She's great at getting position and grabbing rebounds," Nichols said. "That's what we rely on with her."
Cumberland's season comes to a disappointing end with the loss. Vandalia moves on the second round of the Class 2A Cumberland Regional Tuesday when they take on top-seeded Teutopolis.
Cumberland 14 10 10 11 - 45
Vandalia 13 14 13 22 - 62
Cumberland- Holsapple 21, Shull 15, Siebert 8, Paul 1.
Vandalia- Bruno 34, Cripe 12, Bright 6, Hosick 4, Tinker 4, Whightsil 2.