There was no horde of fans waiting to enter the gym an hour before Wednesday's Loyalsock-Montoursville game like the old days. Everything else about the latest cross-creek rivalry game, however, looked and felt old-school.
Record wise, the rivals are on opposite ends, but they combined to make a nice tribute to the past and possibly usher in a new era for one of the area's premier rivalries. Montoursville did all it could to pull the upset but Roger Wilson and Kyle Datres proved too much and the Lancers pulled away for a 65-45 Coaches vs. Cancer win on the Warriors' floor while briefly securing bragging rights.
Round 2 is Monday at Loyalsock.
Jim McMahon of Montoursville looks for a shot as Mike Pastore of Loyalsock defends Wednesday at?Montoursville. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"I was thrilled that Montoursville brought their 'A' game because we needed that and it's kind of rekindling the old rivalry," Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. "It's started up in football again but in basketball it hadn't so I hope that comes about because they are a natural rival and it's always been a great contest in terms of competitiveness and it was good to see that again."
Loyalsock (17-3, 12-0 HAC-II) remained a game ahead of Lewisburg entering Saturday's showdown with the Green Dragons. But the blowout many outside Montoursville's locker room thought was imminent never came. Rapidly improving Montoursville (5-14) played tough, trailed by only eight at halftime and still entertained comeback hopes early in the fourth quarter.
It was another step forward for a team that won two straight entering the game.
"The last two weeks I've thought, 'Where has this been all year?'" Montoursville coach Mark Molesky said. "We came out here and I was pleased with their intensity. I told them there's nothing to hang your head about. We played them tough."
And had it not been for Datres and Wilson, Montoursville might have won. The point guard and center looked more like a quarterback and wide receiver at times as Datres frequently fed Wilson for layups or chippies. Datres finished with 14 assists and most of them went to Wilson who finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and five steals.
By halftime Datres had eight assists, Wilson had 15 points and Loyalsock had built an eight-point lead. Fueled by consecutive Datres to Wilson plays, Loyalsock scored on its first four third-quarter possessions and took a 19-point lead. Montoursville cut it to 14 after three, but Datres took over again, hitting a 3-pointer, feeding Wilson and making a steal that he finished with a layup.
Just like that, Loyalsock had a 59-39 lead and finally was in complete control against a determined opponent. Datres had a hand in 37 of his team's points while adding four steals.
"Kyle gave us some excellent, pin-point passes," Insinger said. "He just knows how to thread the needle on the court as well as on the gridiron. It's peripheral vision too. He sees so well."
"I just like to feel in control out there and I know they all have my back. I've been playing with them since first grade so I know exactly where they are even if I'm not looking," said Datres, a 1000-yard passer last fall. "Whenever I get in trouble I just lob it up and the big guy (Wilson) is there to retrieve the ball. He makes life a lot easier."
Pierce Ranck made life difficult for Loyalsock. Despite being sick, the senior forward put forth a valiant effort and scored 20 points while adding three assists and three steals. Ranck often had defenders draped on him but still was hitting difficult shots, including four 3-pointers. He made a near half-court shot to end the first half and was 7 for 10 from the field in the first three quarters.
Montoursville also received a big lift from Jalile Best. The senior came off the bench to score nine points, grab 11 rebounds and deal three assists. Best had a hand in nine straight second-quarter points and Montoursville pulled within 26-21 with three minutes remaining when Ranck hit his second 3-pointer.
"We didn't meet our goal of making the playoffs but we can still prove to people that we can play basketball," Molesky said. "It's a lot of baby steps, but hopefully we can keep the momentum going."
Loyalsock sophomore Mike Pastore played a nice all-around game. Pastore finished with nine points, six assists and four steals while Omar Little had six points, five rebounds and three assists.
The way Montoursville played, the good crowd that was loud throughout and the game's intensity created a playoff atmosphere. It was just what Loyalsock needed entering the Lewisburg game.
Roger Wilson 11 2-7 24, Kyle Datres 3 0-1 7, Omar Little 2 0-0 6, Ben Sosa 3 1-3 7, Mike Pastore 4 1-2 9, Ryan Bogaczyk 2 2-2 6, Luke Glavin 1 0-0 2, Tommy Baggett 1 1-4 4, Robbie Klein 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 7-19 65.
Pierce Ranck 7 2-4 20, Matt Krezmer 3 0-0 8, Zach Pepperman 0 0-0 0, Jalile Best 4 0-0 9, Quintin Helm 0 1-2 1, Sean O'Malley 1 1-1 3, Derrick Evans 0 2-2 2, Jim McMahon 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 6-9 45.
Loyalsock19 13 18 15-65
Montoursville12 12 12 9-45
3-pointers: Loy. 4 (Little 2, Datres, Baggett); Mtv. 7 (Ranck 4, Krezmer 2, Best).
Records: Loyalsock 17-3, 12-0 HAC-II. Montoursville 5-14, 3-8.
JV Score: Loyalsock 52-37.