JT 'spurts' to victory
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Jim Thorpe's Rashid Epps (21) pump fakes to get Panther Valley's Kyle Picht into the air.
Jim Thorpe's relentless style of play and its offensive firepower make it a ticking time bomb.
The Olympians are an explosion ready to happen. Their myriad of weapons and frenetic pace can produce game-changing runs in the blink of an eye.
Thorpe has what CBS' basketball analyst Clark Kellogg calls "spurtability."
One of those spurts was the difference on Friday night as Jim Thorpe beat Panther Valley, 65-51, in a critical Schuylkill League Division I showdown.
Trailing 39-38 late in the third quarter, the Olympians used an eight-point run in the final 1:50 of the period to take control of the game. Corey Cinicola ignited the surge with a shot from inside and Rashid Epps highlighted it with a steal and thunderous breakaway dunk.
"The game was being played at Panther Valley's pace for most of the third quarter," said Jim Thorpe coach Brian Carroll. "But we were finally able to pick up the pace and get a run together late in the quarter.
"I thought Rashid's dunk was huge because it seemed to re-energize us. It absolutely blew the house up. The fans went crazy and it seemed to ignite our kids."
The dunk put Thorpe ahead 44-39 with :32 left in the quarter. P.J. Johnson followed with a three-point play to cap the run.
"Things just got a little more fast paced then we wanted," said Panther Valley coach Pat Crampsie. "We wanted to be aggressive against their press, but we also wanted to be smart. I thought we made too many bad decisions in the frontcourt after breaking their press.
"We did a nice job battling back to take the lead in the third quarter, but then we started making some of those bad decisions and Jim Thorpe took advantage of it."
Brock Mitchell scored inside for Panther Valley to open the fourth quarter, but Sam Lux answered with a three for the Olympians to make it 50-41. Epps then took charge, scoring eight points in a three-minute span as Thorpe pushed its lead into double digits.
"We know Panther Valley likes to keep the game in the 40s while we wanted to get it into the 60s," said Carroll. "We wanted to try and force the tempo so that's why we stayed in a press the entire game.
"I think it definitely served its purpose. Not only did we force some turnovers (16), but I think it got the game at the pace we wanted."
Jim Thorpe (13-4, 7-2) got outstanding balance as Epps led the way with 20 points, Lux followed with 15 and Cinicola added 13. The victory kept the Olympians in a first-place tie with Pottsville in Division 1. North Schuylkill is one-game back while Panther Valley falls two games behind.
"This was a monstrous win for us especially after the tough loss we had Tuesday at Pine Grove," said Carroll. "Panther Valley had been playing very well so it was important to have a really strong performance and get back on track."
"We still control our own destiny in the league and that's all you can ask for. Now we have to build on this momentum."
For Panther Valley, Logan Stano had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Mitchell added 12 points.
"This loss hurts," said Crampsie. "We had been playing pretty well lately, but we took a couple steps back tonight.
"We just have to get back to work and try to fix what we did wrong tonight."
Stanko 3-1-2-9, Ogozalek 0-0-0-0, Mattewson 0-0-0-0, Revell 2-1-2-5, Picht 1-0-0-2, Lewis 4-0-0-8, Mitchell 5-2-3-12, Ahner 0-0-0-0, Stano 6-2-2-15. TOTALS: 21-6-9-51.
DiBonifazio 2-0-0-6, Lux 5-3-7-15, Epps 9-2-6-20, Cinicola 5-1-3-13, Richardson 0-2-2-2, Johnson 4-1-1-9. TOTALS: 25-9-19-65
Panther Vy. 17 11 11 12 - 51
Jim Thorpe 19 13 15 18 - 65
Three-pointers: PV - Stanko 2, Stano 1. JT - DiBonifazio 2, Cinicola 2, Lux 2.