LANSFORD - There were so many questions surrounding the Jim Thorpe boys basketball team entering the season that Olympians head coach Brian Carroll didn't have a clue.
Last night, the mystery began to unravel for the first time, and answers began to surface for a young and inexperienced team that will likely be fighting its way through a season of growing pains.
In the opening round of the Panther Valley Tip-Off Tournament, Mahanoy Area handed Jim Thorpe a 55-26 setback, which leaves the Olympians playing host Panther Valley in the tournament's consolation game later tonight at 6:00 p.m.
The first clues came in the form of mistakes and inconsistent play from the young Olympians.
After missing its first seven shot attempts of the game, Jim Thorpe actually held its own in the first nine minutes of the contest and took an 11-8 lead when Deonte St. Hill buried the first of his two three-pointers on the night.
However, what ensued over the next 13:33 was pure Mahanoy Area domination.
The Golden Bears went on a 36-8 run, and with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter, Mahanoy Area turned a three-point deficit into a 44-19 lead.
In that span, the Golden Bears shot 50-percent from the field (14-for-28), which included a 17-2 run in the second quarter.
To start the third quarter, Mahanoy Area fed the ball inside to junior Tyler Cavenas, who scored his team's first 12 points of the second half (a 12-2 Mahanoy Area run).
"I was so proud of the kids for the first ten or so minutes of the game. We saw some of the potential that I think we're capable of playing at," stated Carroll. "In the second and third quarters, we got caught standing still too much and we allowed them to have too many second and third chance scoring opportunities. Then, when we tried to get something going offensively, we'd make a bad pass, and they capitalized."
Mistakes proved costly for the Olympians as they almost had as many turnovers (24) as points (26).
"We really hurt ourselves with turnovers tonight and that was one of the big concerns I had coming into the season," added Carroll. "Aside from Jaquan (Brown), none of these kids have ever really played in front of a big crowd at a varsity level before, so part of the mystery coming into the season was how they'd react to that."
Deonte St. Hill led Jim Thorpewith eight points.
"We lost to a good team tonight," concluded Carroll. "Now we just have to search for some consistency going forward."
Perhaps Carroll has a clue after all.
Richmond 0-0-0-0, Miller 3-2-2-10, McNeil 2-2-3-7, Merchlinsky 1-1-2-3, Mahmod 2-0-0-4, Yedsena 2-1-1-5, Wronski 0-0-0-0, McGee 2-1-3-5, Cavenas 7-2-4-16, VanHorn 0-0-0-0, Kuzma 2-1-2-5. TOTALS: 21-10-17-55.
St. Hill 3-0-0-8, Harleston 2-0-0-4, Heydt 0-0-0-0, Lindsey 1-0-2-2, M. Principe 1-0-0-2, Green 0-0-0-0, Smith 0-0-0-0, Snisky 0-0-0-0, S. Principe 1-1-2-3, McElmoyle 0-0-0-0, Micciche 0-0-0-0, Brown 3-1-2-7, Everitt 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 11-2-6-26.
Mahanoy Area 8 19 18 10 - 55
Jim Thorpe 8 7 6 5 - 26
Three-Pointers: Mahanoy Area - Miller 2, McNeil 1; Jim Thorpe - St. Hill 2.