Loyalsock races past Palmerton
WILLIAMSPORT — There are several things the Loyalsock boys basketball team does very well, and that’s why this team has but one loss in a season that seems destined to drive deep into the PIAA Class 3A tournament.
Playing at the top of their game Saturday against Palmerton, there was never any doubt about the skill set the Lancers bring to the table. Their speed is freighting, they feed off defense, they shoot uncanny when needed, and they are a purebred basketball team.
Taking command midway through the first quarter, Loyalsock raced off with a commanding lead on its way to an 80-48 victory, capturing its 27th win of the season and moving into the second round of the tournament to face Bishop McDevitt on Wednesday.
For Palmerton (12-13), a late season joyride, which featured a stunning District 11 championship, hit the final snag in the road ending the season for senior Nate Dougherty, the lone starter that will not return.
“My guys do battle hard, but we ran into a team that is not only a very good team, but a team that played with a lot of focus and energy,” observed Palmerton coach Ken Termini. “When you see them on tape, they can be deceiving, and when they’re locked in, they probably can play with any team in the state.”
The Lancers rode a trio of double digit scorers - Gerald Ross (21 points), Connor Watkins (14) and Aiden Gair (13) - with nearly all of that scoring coming in the first two quarters. Ross poured in 17 by halftime, and Watkins, along with Gair, scored all of their points in the first-half.
Where the Blue Bombers were having issues was trying to snap the backcourt pressure defense, which featured 6-6, 240-pound University of Pittsburgh football recruit, Bam Brima. Brima came out front, and with his large frame and long arms, tested Palmerton to the hilt.
“We tried to talk about (him), and we did a lot of film work, we broke down clips of him and bringing people wide,” explained Termini. But as much as the videos are looked at, playing that speed is a different story.”
The closest Palmerton got was with 1:43 to play in the first period, when Owen Buck get a bucket and teammate Zach Selfies finished off a three-point play with a foul conversion, which put the score at 15-12. Then the Lancers went into a scoring frenzy, rolling to a 23-14 lead after a period, and proceeded to score 19-unaswered points in the second quarter on the way to a 48-19 halftime lead.
“We press for 32 minutes, that’s our style,” said Loyalsock veteran head coach Ron Insinger, who is the only high school coach in the state of Pennsylvania that has coached his teams to over 1,000 victories. “When we’re not in the press, we’re not clicking on all five cylinders.”
Even with Palmerton’s superb guard, Dougherty, who shared team scoring honors with Justin Hoiser, each with 14 points, it was going to be tough to hang with the much more physical, quick and very talented team.
“They cranked it up another level, and we didn’t respond the way we needed to,” said Termini. Still Termini saw positives in the loss. “We’ve got 20 years without finishing .500 and 30 years without a district title. The group of seniors are very emotional ... they have a lot to be proud of; they brought a program out of a decade-and-a-half losing slump.”
BACK TO BACK … It was a two-night trip to Williamsport for the team bus drivers at Palmerton. The girls played Friday in the Magic Dome. The District 4 teams deserved playing in the district, but two-hour bus rides don’t make sense. A trip to Shamokin or Mount Carmel would have been more in line.
KNOCKING IT DOWN … The Lancers were superb on this game. They missed but two shots in the second quarter (10-for-12) and shot 18-for-27 in the opening half, while also burying nine triples. Palmerton went 2-of-11 and 5-of-16 in that time span.
BIDDING ADIEU … Four seniors depart for the Bombers; Dougherty, Silfies, Menai Delgado and Eric Nothstein.
Dougherty 4 6-8-14, Hoiser 6-0-0-14, Kratzer 3-1-4-7, Buck 3-0-0-6, Selfies 1-1-1-3, Mooney 1-0-0-2, Christman 0-0-0-0, Young 0-0-0-0, King 0-0-0-0, Kresge 0-0-0-0, Stuck 0-0-0-0, Nothstein 0-0-0-0, Connell 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 19-8-14-48.
Ross 7-4-5-21, C. Watkins 6-2-2-14, A. Gair 4-2-2-14, R. Watkins 4-0-1-8, I. Ali 1-5-7-7, Brim 3-1-4-7, Gee 2-0-0-4, Armson 2-0-0-4, S. Ali 1-0-2-2, Sagar 0-0-0-0, Jennins 0-0-0-0,Cavanaugh 0-0-0-0, E. Gair 0-0-0-0, Jenson 0-0-0-0, Wilson 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 30-14-33-80.
Palmerton 14 5 18 11 - 48
Loyalsock 23 25 22 10 - 80
Three-pointers: P - Hoiser 2; L - A. Gari 4, Ross 3, C, Watkins 2.