When Communications Technology stepped onto the floor at the Magic Dome on Saturday night it was evident that it was bigger, stronger and more athletic than Loyalsock.
What wasn't evident, though, was that Loyalsock - although smaller and less athletic - would force the Phoenix to hold the ball and run the clock down for the better part of six minutes in the second half in order to outlast the Lancers, 48-44.
With a six-point lead entering the third quarter, Communications Technology's Terrence Brown dribbled the ball up the court to start the half before stopping and retreating back to the halfcourt line. Under the instruction of head coach Lou Biester, Brown simply dribbled the clock away.
Omar Little of Loyalsock runs past Comm Tech’s David Johnson Saturday night at Williamsport. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"The thing is when you go up to states people do that," Biester said of the tactic. "We have to be able to handle that and face it. What we want to do is make them go man-to-man and use that athleticism in the open floor."
And once the Lancers finally went to man-to-man defense with just over two minutes left to play, it was too late. Despite a big second half from Omar Little and Roger Wilson, the Lancers just didn't have enough time.
"We did everything we had to do to win the ball game," said Loyalsock head coach Ron Insinger. "We just made a couple minor mistakes down the stretch."
And even with those mistakes, Loyalsock came roaring back in the second half, eventually taking a lead late in the third quarter. That lead quickly evaporated, though, as the Phoenix exploited a smaller Loyalsock defense in transition and off of turnovers.
Communications Technology used it's athletic big men and wing players to find mismatches and exploit weak spots in the Lancer zone, all while running precious seconds - and minutes - off the clock.
"I was extremely proud of our kids. They did everything we asked of them and more," Insinger said. "That team was very athletic and they were gifted from top to bottom. In the last few seconds it was anyone's ball game."
With a long, athletic front line to deal with, Loyalsock needed a big game from center Roger Wilson. It got one.
Wilson scored 16 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked shots down the stretch while almost single-handily keeping the Lancers alive for stretches.
"Roger has been Mr. Consistent for us this season," Insinger said. "He's been our go-to guy. He's matured and enhanced his skill level. He's to the point now that he can play with the biggies and I couldn't be higher on the kid."
Even though Comm Tech wanted to get out and run with it's athletic players, the star for the Phoenix was one of it's smallest players, David Johnson, who led all scorers with 21 points.
Johnson literally carried the Phoenix during the first quarter, scoring each of the team's 16 first-quarter points while using a combination of dribble penetration to get easy baskets and long 3-pointers over the zone.
"David is a very good guard," Biester said. "He gets open looks and he's a very good shooter."
And while it seemed as though the Phoenix would go as Johnson did, it was his lack of scoring in the second half that helped put Communications Technology over the top.
Johnson happily stood on the wing for the majority of the second half, opting to facilitate the offense rather than be it.
"We knew they were going to try and take him away in the second half," Biester said. "He's very unselfish and didn't force anything."
Comm Tech (48)
Briheam Anthony 2 0-0 4, David Johnson 8 1-1 21, Hyking Brisbon 3 2-2 8, Lloyd Moore 0 0-0 0, Terrence Brown 4 0-1 8, Samir Doughty 1 2-4 5, Keith Griffen 1 0-0 2, Mohamed Sherif 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 5-9 48.
Tommy Baggett 0 0-0 0, Kyle Datres 3 0-0 6, Mike Pastore 1 0-0 2, Ryan Bogaczyk 1 0-0 2, Omar Little 3 3-5 10, Roger Wilson 8 0-0 16, Ben Sosa 2 4-6 8, Luke Glavin 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 7-11 44.
Comm Tech 16 14 5 13 - 48
Loylasock 11 13 13 7 - 44
3-Point goals: Communications Technology 5 (Johnson 4, Doughty), Loyalsock 1 (Little)
Records: Loyalsock 15-3, Communcations Technology 13-6