ESPNews Highlight Express has a segment called "No, He Didn't" that showcases plays that must be seen to be believed.
If there was a Schuylkill League version of "No, He Didn't," Panther Valley's Zack Stanko would have been a headliner Friday night.
The 6-0 senior connected for 18 of his 19 points in the second half, including an amazing driving scoop shot down the stretch, as the Panthers rallied from 10 down in the third quarter to pull out a 53-51 Schuylkill Division I win at Tamaqua.
Nate Mathewson, the Panthers' 6-4 junior center, canned a game-high 23 points as Panther Valley (4-7 overall, 1-3 league) overcame a sluggish first half against the rival Blue Raiders (3-8, 0-5).
"At halftime, things weren't going our way," said Panther Valley coach Pat Crampsie. "We played tentative in the first half. We were playing not to lose instead of playing to win.
"We played with more intensity in the second half. We said, 'let's let it all hang out and see what happens.' Zack and Nate carried us, and that got our juices flowing."
The Panthers continue to adjust to playing without 6-5 junior center Brock Mitchell, who broke his foot in December.
"Obviously, Brock is a kid that is irreplaceable, but we still have games to play that we want to win," stated Crampsie. "We're not going to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves, because no one else is going to do that."
The victory was the ninth straight for the Panthers over Tamaqua, dating back to 2006, but the Raiders appeared ready to snap that streak.
An 11-0 Raider run in the second quarter turned into a 22-14 halftime lead. That grew to 10 at 26-16 on Trevor Reinhardt's lay-up with 7:02 to go in the third quarter.
Stanko, however, banged home a pair of triples, and Mathewson pumped in 12 points, as the Panthers cut the difference to 38-34. A pair of treys by senior guard Spencer Bennett and four points each from senior Mike Streisel and Reinhardt kept the Raiders in front after three periods.
The Panthers opened the fourth quarter with an 11-6 run, with a Stanko triple putting PV in front 45-44 with 3:13 to go. Mathewson hit a free throw to make it 46-44 with 2:24 left.
Stanko then drove to the basket and lost his balance. Somehow, he managed to toss a circus shot at the rim, which hit the backboard and spun into the hoop for a highlight reel deuce and a 48-44 Panther lead with 1:39 remaining.
Nick McArdle hit a pair of foul shots at the 1:08 mark to make it 50-46, but the Raiders didn't go away. Bennett hit two foul shots, and Reinhardt scored inside to make it 50-48 with 39.1 to go.
At the 32.3 second mark, Stanko hit two free throws to push it back to 52-48, but Eric Bachert hit a foul shot on the other end, and Streisel recycled a miss on the second shot to cut it to 52-51 with 19 seconds to go.
Stanko was fouled and hit 1-of-2 with 15 seconds left, and the Panthers survived two Raider shots at the tying bucket in the closing seconds.
Streisel had a double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds, while Bennett added 11 points for the Raiders, who shot 20 for 49 (40.8 percent) compared to 17 for 53 (32 percent) by PV and held a 40-30 rebounding edge. Tamaqua was undone by 22 turnovers, however, while the Panthers committed 16.
"Our effort was good enough to win the game," said Tamaqua coach Jay Daubert. "We battled hard all game. The guys that came off the bench (Bachert and Matt Kurek) gave us good minutes. That was probably our best defensive line-up with that group in there."
Tamaqua earned a split with a 43-20 win in the JV game. Drew Chartier topped the Raiders with 10 points.
Hadesty 0-0-0-0, Dunn 0-0-0-0, Stanko 6-4-7-19, McArdle 0-2-4-2, Ogozalek 0-0-0-0, Revell 3-2-2-9, Kerschner 0-0-0-0, Mathewson 8-6-7-23. TOTALS: 17-14-20-53.
Bachert 3-1-2-7, Fegley 1-1-2-3, Streisel 8-2-2-18, Bennett 3-2-2-11, Lakitsky 0-0-0-0, Kurek 1-2-2-4, Reinhardt 4-0-0-8. TOTALS: 20-8-10-51,
Panther Vy. 9 5 20 19 - 53
Tamaqua 7 15 16 13 - 51
Three-point goals: PV-Stanko 3, Mathewson 1; T-Bennett 3.