Pottsville beats Thorpe to win Division I crown
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Jim Thorpe's Sam Lux looks for a way to get out of a double-team applied by Pottsville on Saturday.
It's probably the oldest saying in sports - and once again it proved accurate.
On Saturday afternoon, Pottsville showed that defense really does win championships.
The Crimson Tide rode a solid defensive effort to a 58-49 victory over Jim Thorpe and in the process captured the Schuylkill League Division I championship.
Pottsville (18-3, 10-2) held the Olympians to under for 50 points for just the third time this season.
"I was really happy with our defense, especially with the job we did on [Rashid] Epps," said Pottsville coach Dave Mullaney. "We wanted to front him to prevent the easy entry pass and then help out from the weakside. I thought we executed that well."
Despite a monster game on the boards where he pulled down nine offensive rebounds and 21 boards overall, Epps was held to 10 points in the game. Of those points, only four came out of the Olympians' offensive sets with the other six coming on putbacks.
"Give Pottsville credit, they did a nice job of taking away Rashid," said Jim Thorpe coach Brian Carroll. "But we helped them by not moving the ball on offense. We just never got the ball reversed.
"The last time we played them (a 12-point Olympian victory), Sam [Lux] and Rashid both had big games. Today they didn't get any easy looks."
The Olympians led just once the entire game when Epps hit a layup to make it 16-15 with 4:12 left in the second quarter.
A Josh Whalen basket returned the advantage to the Tide and they increased the spread to 24-18 at halftime.
A three-pointer by Whalen early in the third quarter extended the lead to double digits (29-19).
Jim Thorpe was able to pull within six points several times in the second half, but could never get any closer.
"They had a few runs, but they were short runs," said Mullaney. "We have a lot of experienced players and they did a nice job of making plays and preventing Jim Thorpe from getting too close.
"We held them to four or six point runs instead of 10 or 12 point runs, so we never lost control."
After scoring just 29 points over the first three quarters, the Olympians finally found some offense in the fourth quarter. But the Tide did enough from the line, converting 11 of 17 attempts, to maintain a comfortable lead.
Nick Schlitzer had eight points in the final quarter and finished with 22 points to lead Pottsville. Whalen added 18.
For Jim Thorpe, Lux has 14 points, Corey Cinicola had 12 points and Epps had 10. All three players ended up fouling out of the game.
"The fight was there from our kids," said Carroll. "We kept battling, but we could never quite get over the hump."
Schappell 2-1-2-7, Heffner 0-4-4-4, Guers 0-0-0-0, Whalen 6-5-7-18, Lewymeister 1-2-6-4, Tobin 0-0-0-0, Schlitzer 8-4-7-22, Spece 1-0-0-3. TOTALS: 18-16-26-58.
Mickens 1-0-0-2, Lux 5-4-6-14, Epps 5-0-0-10, Ciavarella 3-0-0-6, Cincola 5-1-2-12, Otto 0-0-0-0, Richardson 2-0-0-4, Johnson 0-1-6-1. TOTALS: 21-6-14-49.
Pottsville 12 12 17 17 - 58
Jim Thorpe 10 8 11 20 - 49
Three-pointers: P - Schappell 2, Schlitzer 2, Whalen 1, Spece 1. JT - Cincola 1.