Thorpe falls to Spartans
Bob Ford/TIMES NEWS Jim Thorpe's P.J. Johnson tries to power his way for a shot against the defense of North Schuylkill's Zach Hogan.
Some losses are much harder to swallow than others.
Losing a lead at home against a league opponent definitely falls into that category.
With a chance to remain undefeated in Schuylkill League Division I play Friday night, Jim Thorpe instead fell victim to a North Schuylkill rally and a last-second shot by Steve Ennis.
Ennis received a screen from a teammate and drove the lane for his game-winning bucket with .7 seconds left, giving the Spartans a 55-53 victory.
"We were in foul trouble, we had a lack of execution offensively, and we had defensive breakdowns which can't happen," said a dejected Olympian head coach Brian Carroll. "Give North Schuylkill credit. When we had them teetering, they didn't give up. They just kept coming at us.
"This one really hurts. This is one we knew we should have won and we let it slip away."
Thorpe (7-2; 3-1) held its biggest lead at 26-14 midway through the second frame after Dean DiBonifazio drained his third three-pointer, and the hosts enjoyed an eight-point advantage at the half.
Carroll's club maintained the eight-point margin (38-30) three minutes into the second half, but from them on the Spartans (6-3; 3-1) took control.
By taking it strong to the basket, North Schuylkill hit four inside shots to key a 13-4 run that gave the visitors the lead.
"We put pressure on their wing guard instead of packing it in the paint and worrying about (Rashid) Epps and (Corey) Cinicola," said Spartan mentor Curt Ziegmont. "We made it tough for them to pass into their big guys. We got some tipped passes and looked to push it in transition and beat them back in their type of game.
"When we didn't have anything we pulled it out, got a good set, and made them play defense. We just valued every possession."
Down the stretch, every possession became more and more valuable.
Thorpe went ahead 49-48 on a Sam Lux twisting shot with 5:28 to play. Ennis, however, responded with a three-point play to put his team up 51-49.
Epps, who was in foul trouble most of the evening and was held to a season-low five points, hit a putback with 2:38 remaining to tie the game at 51-51.
North Schuylkill went back in front when Derek Dumbroski got free inside for a deuce, but Jaquan Richardson answered with an off-balanced jumper to knot the game at 53-53 with 2:04 left.
Ziegmont opted to run the clock down for a final shot and, after a timeout, got the ball to his go-to guy.
"Knowing they were in foul trouble, we had no problem going into overtime," he said. "Three of our games have gone into overtime so we're used to the pressure shots and game on the line. I was content running time off the clock to get that last shot.
"They ran the final play to perfection. They executed the play and made a big bucket. My guys deserve a lot of et. My guys deserve a lot ofcredit. This could be the turning point in our season."
Ennis finished with a game-high 15 points while teammate Zach Parnell added 11.
For Thorpe, P.J. Johnson had a team-high 12 points while Cinicola ended with 11. Lux and DiBonifazio each had nine.
"They were aggressive going to the basket and we didn't slide over quick enough," said Carroll. "We were settling for long shots instead of pounding it inside. We got away from that. We let them hang around when we should have put them away. They just did a better job down the stretch than we did."
In the JV game, Jim Thorpe earned a 48-40 win behind 18 points from Darius Clark.
Hogan 1-0-0-3, Ennis 5-5-7-15, Anthony 3-0-0-8, Weist 0-0-0-0, Chernewski 1-0-0-2, Parnell 5-1-4-11, Skinner 0-0-2-0, Dumbroski 4-0-0-8, Spotts 1-0-0-2, Rakowsky 2-0-0-6, McClosky 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-6-13-55.
DiBonifazio 3-0-0-9, Mickens 0-0-0-0, Lux 4-0-2-9, Epps 2-1-2-5, Cinicola 3-5-10-11, Otto 1-0-0-2, Richardson 2-0-0-5, Johnson 5-0-0-12, Clark 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 20-6-14-53.
No. Schuylkill 14 9 20 12 - 55
Jim Thorpe 18 13 14 8 - 53
Three-pointers: North Schuylkill - Anthony 2, Rakowsky 2, Hogan 1; Jim Thorpe - DiBonifazio 3, Johnson 2, Richardson 1, Lux 1.