Blue Mountain and Jim Thorpe both started slow offensively last night, but in the end, it was the Eagles taking advantage of their inside presence and outscoring the Olympians 23-9 in the fourth quarter for a 61-47 Schuylkill League Division I win.
It took about two minutes for a basket to fall, but things started to click for the Olympians, as they turned a 5-5 tie into a 13-5 lead off an 8-0 run as J.T. Otto scored five. The Olympians held a 14-7 lead after one period. Otto finished with eight points, while the Eagles' Tyler Hartranft hit a three to keep the visitors close.
In the second period, Blue Mountain began chipping away and eventually tied the game up 22-22 at the intermission. Matt LaScala came alive for eight of his game-high 20 points for the Eagles in the period, while Jim Thorpe's Dean DiBonifazio had four points in the quarter.
In the third frame, the two teams continued to battle evenl as there were six lead changes in the quarter. It was stilled tied (38-38) with eight minutes left to play. Jim Thorpe's Dane Ciavarella's seven rebounds in the frame and five points kept the game tight, with LaScala's eight and Kyle O'Brien's six providing the 5-3 Eagles with plenty of offense.
Blue Mountain finally took control of the game in the fourth period and pulled out the win.
Blue Mountain's head coach Dustin Werdt said, "I thought we did a better job of opening up the floor and a better job of taking care of the ball."
The Eagles started out the final session with a 11-0 run to blow open the tight contest. Foul trouble, three missed shots, three turnovers, an offensive foul and a somewhat lackluster effort, all by the Olympians, provided the 11-point cushion, as the Eagles raced out to a 49-38 lead with about five minutes remaining.
Jim Thorpe cut the gap to eight, but that was as close as it would get the remainder of the way.
In the final frame, Michel Tobash had all seven of his points for the Eagles, while O'Brien had five. P.J. Johnson had two late treys for the Olympians, as well.
"I think, to start, they put us in some uncomfortable situations with their defense and aggressive play early on," Werdt admitted. "We took some unwanted shots and had some turnovers and that's a credit to them. Jim Thorpe always has some great athletes down here. But any win in our division is huge, especially on the road. After our slow start, and eventually pulling out the win is just great."
JT's Brian Carroll reflected, "I thought early on we did a good job of executing well offensively and did a great job on the boards," said Jim Thorpe head coach Brian Carroll. "Foul trouble had PJ (Johnson) sitting for a while and Dean (DiBonifazio) sitting with his injury was tough to deal with. But their dominance and our lack of execution down the stretch was the difference tonight."
LaScala led all scorers with 20 points, while O'Brien was right behind with 19.
DiBonifazio led Jim Thorpe with 13, while Otto had 10.
In the JV game, Blue Mountain won, 57-42, behind 18 points from Matt Garrity. For JT, Jaquan Brown had 15.
Yost 1-0-0-2, Donovan 0-0-0-0, Hartranft 1-0-4-3, LaScala 6-6-7-20, Cryts 4-2-3-10, Tobash 1-5-5-7, Dimaio 0-0-2-0, O'Brien 8-3-3-19. TOTALS: 21-16-24-61.
Dibonifazio 3-5-7-13, Prontnicki 1-0-0-3, Moranta 0-2-2-2, Moore 0-0-0-0, Munoz 0-0-0-0, Ciavarella 2-4-6-8, Otto 3-2-3-10, Brown 0-0-0-0, Clark 1-2-2-4, Johnson 2-1-3-7. TOTALS: 12-16-23-47.
Blue Mtn. 7 15 16 23 - 61
Jim Thorpe 14 8 16 9 - 47
Three pointers: BM - LaScala 2, Hartranft 1; JT - Dibonifazio 2, Johnson 2, Otto 2, Prontnicki 1.