When they were first playing as elementary school students, only one Muncy basketball player displayed perfect shooting form.
And when the lights shined brightest Tuesday at Williamsport, he displayed it two more times and paved the way for a big win.
Jeff Scott came off the bench and hit two huge fourth-quarter 3-pointers in a one-minute span, sparking the run that finally helped Muncy pull away from Mansfield and secure an 82-67 District 4 Class A quarterfinal win.
Teddy Clark of Muncy drives for a layup as Sam Rotella of Mansfield defends Tuesday at Williamsport High School. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"Jeff can shoot the lights out. Jeff could shoot since he was tiny," Muncy coach Jason Gresh said. "He's so strong and he's been able to do it forever. He can play. He can shoot, no doubt about it."
Scott turned the ball over a few times in the first half but was there when Muncy (17-6) needed him most. After Mansfield (13-9) pulled within seven with six minutes remaining, he hit a 3-pointer in the right corner to squash the run. A minute later, he hit another from the opposite corner and Muncy went up 70-57 and never let the Tigers get within single digits again.
Other players had bigger statistical nights but Scott's shooting made a huge difference as Muncy advanced to next week's semifinals to play top-seeded St. John Neumann.
"I told him, 'I don't care how many times you messed up you hit two of the biggest 3s in the game. You gave us a lot of momentum so you just keep shooting,'" Muncy point guard Ammar Sabanovic said. "He's one of our best shooters, so he has the green light. If he's open or he's feeling it he can shoot because he's knocked them down before and will again."
Sabanovic helped set a furious pace from the start, scoring 11 points and dealing 11 assists. He had four assists in the game's first three minutes as Muncy raced out to a 14-7 lead it never relinquished. By early in the second quarter, the Indians led 27-12. Mansfield kept fighting back and pulled as close as five late in the half but Sabanovic struck again when he found Dawson Fox for a buzzer-beating layup before the half that made it 41-34.
The rest of the game featured a similar theme. Muncy would start to extend the lead before Mansfield inched closer. The Tigers, though, never could pull closer than seven and Scott's 3-pointers finally broke them. Senior point guard Taylor Hillson did all he could to spark Mansfield, scoring a game-high 23 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dealing six assists.
"He was top 3 in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, rebounds, assists and steals all year for us," Mansfield coach Kipper Burleigh said. "He knew from early on our season would depend on what he could do offensively and defensively. He had a lot on his plate every game and he came through every single game."
Every time Mansfield threatened, Muncy countered and it was usually a different player each time. Dawson Fox played one of his best games, scoring 22 points, grabbing eight rebounds, dealing seven assists and making four steals. Nick Ring was tough inside, scoring 20 points and grabbing 14 rebounds while Billy Kolletzki and Teddy Clark combined for 17 points and nine rebounds.
Together, Muncy made 62 percent of its shots.
"We have so many scorers this year," Sabanovic said. "Nick has been huge for us. Dawson, Billy, Teddy we can all score. It's a great group of guys to play with. You can't just guard one of us and expect to win. You have to guard all of us."
Muncy is semifinal bound for a second straight year, an impressive achievement for a program that had gone eight years between semifinal appearances before last season.
Bo Burleigh had a breakout season for Mansfield and played well in his first playoff start, scoring 15 points and grabbing six rebounds. Reece Correll added 12 points and six rebounds.
Taylor Hillson 10 1-2 23, Reece Correll 5 1-7 12, Bo Burleigh 5 3-4 15, Dallas Dziuba 0 0-0 0, Sam Rotella 2 7-8 11, Bryce Zaparzynski 2 0-0 6. Totals 24 12-20 67.
Ammar Sabanovic 4 2-5 11, Nick Ring 9 2-2 20, Dawson Fox 8 6-6 22, Billy Kolletzki 4 0-0 9, Teddy Clark 3 2-3 8, Jeff Scott 5 0-0 12. Totals 33 12-16 82.
Mansfield10 24 16 17-67
Muncy21 20 19 20-82
3-pointers: Mansfield 7 (Hillson 2, Burleigh 2, Zaparzynski 2, Correll); Muncy 4 (Scott 2, Sabanovic, Kolletzki).
Records: Muncy 17-6. Mansfield 13-9.