HUGHESVILLE - One-by-one Loyalsock's starters lumbered off the court at Hughesville drenched in sweat, reached their bench and finally had a chance to reflect. The past seven days have been exhausting for the Lancers, even as resilient teenagers expected to be filled with energy.
The demanding seven days began with a game at Class AAAA Williamsport last Saturday. It continued on Tuesday with a matchup with previously undefeated Lewisburg and it stretched to Thursday and Friday with mid-term finals.
Before the Lancers could release a final exhale after completing their tests, they needed to take one more deep breath because Friday night brought another challenge on the court: rival Hughesville.
Tyler Mitcheltree of Hughesville collides with Loyalsock’s Omar Little Friday night at Hughesville. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
The Spartans entered last night winners of four consecutive games and were playing in front of their fans with a chance to hand Loyalsock its first HAC-II loss.
The Lancers, however, had enough gas in the tank to remain undefeated in league play with a convincing 54-37 victory.
"It's been a very tough and trying week for them," Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. "They are tired right now. We are going to give them the day off. These kids need some rest."
Loyalsock sophomore Kyle Datres finished with a game-high 15 points, but his tireless defense on Hughesville leading scorer Tristan Jeffreys played just as an important role in the 17-point victory. Jeffreys finished with seven points and was held scoreless in the second quarter when Loyalsock outscored the Spartans 16-8.
"If you can hold their best player down, that means everyone else on their team is going to have to step up and not every team has multiple players," Datres said.
"It was just a great defensive performance by all 11 boys that went in," Insinger said. "I just told the team you are going to have bad offensive nights and you have to credit Hughesville defense, but you should never have a bad night defensively because that is 90 percent heart. To hold a playoff team to 37 in their house is quite an accomplishment."
Hughesville (8-5, 5-2 HAC-II) trailed by just five near the end of the first quarter, but a foul at the buzzer allowed Omar Little to knock down a pair of free throws for a seven-point lead.
Hughesville coach Nick Tagliaferri used two quick timeouts in the first 45 seconds of the second quarter, but it didn't deter the oncoming onslaught as the Lancers (10-2, 6-0) pushed their lead to as many as 17 points before the half. Back-to-back Ben Sosa layups were a part of the Loyalsock uprising that ended with a Datres 3-point play before Hughesville scored the final basket of the first half to trail by 15.
Hughesville was held to two field goals in the second quarter, but did manage to get to the foul line 10 times. The Spartans, however, missed six of those after making 4 of 5 in the first quarter.
While Loyalsock's aggressive defense put players like Roger Wilson and Little in foul trouble and gave the Spartans free looks at the basket, it was also the result of some of the easy baskets that were needed on a night the Lancers struggled from the perimeter.
Not all of Loyalsock's easy baskets resulted from transition opportunities. Datres used his dribble at the top of the key to dispose his defender, drive down the lane and reach to the basket on a couple of occasions as Hughesville's help defense was late.
"A lot of that was overreaction on our part on penetration and stuff," Tagliaferri said.
The sophomore guard was one of five Lancers with at least eight points. Wilson had 11, Pastore added nine, despite making just one field goal, and Little and Sosa scored eight each.
Fred Newhart led the Spartans with 10 points.
Hughesville showed signs of life in the second half and scored the first four points in the third quarter to close to 33-22, but the Lancers scored the next eight, including five by Datres.
"We did a good job in the second half of competing, but it's a thirty-two minute game," Tagliaferri said. "We have to polish some stuff up."
The Lancers will receive a short reprieve before playing four games in six days next week. The Spartans also face a difficult stretch starting Monday with games against Muncy, Lewisburg and Prep Charter at the Williamsport Showcase.
Roger Wilson 4 3-6 11, Kyle Datres 6 2-3 15, Omar Little 3 2-2 8, Ben Sosa 4 0-0 8, Mike Pastore 1 6-8 9, Jimmy Webb 0 1-2 1, Ryan Bogaczyk 0 2-2 2, Luke Glavin 0 0-0 0, Tommy Baggett 0 0-0 0, Josh Howell 0 0-0 0, Wes Lapoint 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 16-23 54.
Tristan Jeffreys 3 1-2 7, Brandon Fortin 0 0-0 0, Fred Newhart 4 2-4 10, Ty Stugart 1 4-6 6, Sean Poust 1 0-0 2, Tyler Mitcheltree 1 4-6 6, Kamal Burkhlder 0 0-0 0, Jeremiah McCarty 1 1-3 3, Trey Smith 1 0-0 3. Totals: 12 12-21 47.
Loyalsock17 16 10 11 - 54
Hughesville10 8 8 11 - 37
3-point goals: Loyalsock 2 (Datres, Pastore); Hughesville 1 (Smith).
JV score: Loyalsock 73-65. Top scorers: Tommy Baggett, L, 24; Clint Snyder, H, 17.
Records: Loyalsock 10-2, 6-0 HAC-II; Hughesville 8-5, 5-2. Next: Loyalsock vs. Warrior Run (Mon.); Hughesville at Muncy (Mon.).