Panther Valley coach Pat Crampsie certainly did not want to lose, but the Panthers' coach thinks his team may be better for it.
After putting on a shooting clinic during an opening night win over Jim Thorpe in the Panther Valley Tip-Off Tournament, the host team found it more difficult to light up the scoreboard in the championship game against Mahanoy Area.
While the outcome was not what the Panthers hoped for, losing 62-23, it might have been exactly what they needed.
"Absolutely we're very disappointed to come in here and lose on our floor in the championship game, regardless of who we are playing," said Crampsie. "But I was happy that they continued to fight through the second half. In addition to being down that much, plus the fact that we couldn't hit a shot, I thought they still did the best they could on the defensive end (in the second half).
"Hopefully, as we move forward, this will be a lesson learned and something to build on. Mahanoy's a great team and I think they're going to do that to a lot of schools this year."
Mahanoy (2-0) jumped out to a 19-6 lead after the first quarter as the Panthers worked to keep pace with the visitors' balanced attack.
But as the second quarter unfolded, it became clear that the Golden Bears were just hitting their stride.
Mahanoy outscored Panther Valley (1-1) 21-7 in the quarter on the strength of five three-pointers, including three from tournament MVP Larry McNeil, who had a game-high 18 points, to blow the game open.
The Golden Bears finished with 11 three-pointers as a team while holding the Panthers to four field goals in the game.
"We really just had a good game (tonight)," said Mahanoy coach Mickey Holland. "We had a great week of practice and I think it carried over into both games this weekend.
"We were moving the ball well and I don't think we took many bad shots. And defensively, to hold a team to 23 points, we're thrilled. I thought we did a really great job in all facets of the game tonight."
Mahanoy had three players in double figures, as Jason Richmond chipped in 11 points and Tyler Cavenas added 10 while also proving to be a force in the low post throughout the night.
As Mahanoy's offense was firing on all cylinders throughout the first two quarters, the Golden Bears proved their defense could be just as dominant, making sure there was no chance of a Panther Valley comeback in the second half.
"I never thought we'd go through one half of basketball with only one field goal," Crampsie said of his team's drought until Mike Horan's fourth quarter basket. "We just couldn't get anything going, and that comes a night after we scored 71 points. It's obviously very frustrating.
Senior Jake Szczecina scored nine points one night after his 32-point explosion against Jim Thorpe to pace the Panthers. Luke Stano and Chad Dubosky each chipped four points.
Second half struggles aside, Crampsie knows the Panthers have a lot to build on after two nights of play.
"It's been six years since we had the chance to play in the second game on Saturday night," the coach said, referring to his team's spot in the championship game. "They got a big win against Jim Thorpe, which was great, and worst-case scenario, you come out of here with a split.
"And that's where we're at right now. The bottom-line is that we're 1-1 and we have to get better."
McNeil 7-1-2-18, Richmond 4-0-0-11, Cavenas 5-0-0-10, Miller 3-0-0-8, Yedsena 2-0-0-5, Kuzma 1-0-0-3, Talbot 1-0-0-3, Luddy 1-0-0-2, Wronski 1-0-0-2, Merchlinsky 0-0-0-0, Joseph 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 25-1-2-62.
Szczecina 3-2-3 9, Stano 0-4-4 4, Dubosky 0-4-4 4, Ferryman 0-3-4 3, Horan 1-0-0-2, Nase 0-1-2-1, Keo 0-0-0-0, Kusko 0-0-0-0, Micholik 0-0-0-0, Owens 0-0-0-0, Hudicka 0-0-0-0, Vermillion 0-0-0-0, Weng 0-0-0-0, Moore 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 4-14-17-23.
Mahanoy Area 19 21 10 12 - 62
Panther Valley 6 7 6 4 - 23
Three-pointers: Mahanoy Area - Richmond 3, McNeil 3, Miller 2, Yedsena 1, Talbot 1, Kuzma 1; Panther Valley - Szczecina 1.