MANSFIELD - Jordan Jackson and Matt Reese are good listeners. They are good players too.
Spurred on by coach Todd Outman's pregame words, Wellsboro's two seniors put on a first-half show and sparked a huge run that paved the way for the Green Hornets 61-44 District 4 Class AA quarterfinal win. Wellsboro (22-1) won its first playoff game since 2006 and earned a spot in next week's semifinals against East Juniata.
"Matt and Jordan have been here for three years and experienced the last two years and I told them before the game make sure this isn't your last game," Outman said. "I was quite certain they weren't going to do that. They were going to do everything in their power to help us win and they had fabulous games."
Jackson and Reese had 10 first-half assists and their sensational defense was instrumental to sparking a 25-5 run that bridged the first and second quarters and basically determined the game's outcome. By halftime Wellsboro led 43-17 and had hit 17 of 29 shots, including 9 of 12 in the second quarter.
Jackson (10 points, 6 assists) was one of four Hornets to score in double figures. Mike Pietropola scored a team-high 15 and hit five 3-pointers while Dylan Prough had 12 points and eight rebounds and Joe Doganiero added 12 points. Reese held 1,000-point scorer Eddie Larcom to two points while dealing eight assists, grabbing six rebounds and making three steals.
"Not having won a district game in the last couple years hurts so we came out with a lot of fire and we took it to them," Pietropola said. "We're in sync and as a team we work together. It was flowing."
It was the end of an era for Canton which had its best season this century. The Warriors (14-10) reached districts for the first time since 2001, won a playoff game for the first time since 1977 and both Emmett Watson (21 points, 4 steals) and Larcom topped 1,000 points.
Canton overcame an 0-3 start and its players had become celebrities with the town's youth. Last night's outcome will not diminish that.
"We just briefly tried to recap a whole year in 10 minutes after a loss and I can't even do it justice, everything these kids have done for Canton basketball this year," Canton coach Lance Larcom said. "I have three seniors in there (Watson, Larcom, Wes Moore) who have put everything into this and there is no way this last game is going to erase everything they've done this year."
Canton played hard until the end and won the fourth quarter, 19-5. Wellsboro, though, dominated the first three quarters while extending its winning streak to 15. The Hornets controlled all facets in the second half and turned what looked like it might be a close game early into a rout when they hit their first six second-quarter shots.
Doganiero scored eight second-quarter points and a pretty Jackson behind the back pass to Prough capped the impressive first-half statement.
Emmett Watson 8 3-4 21, Eddie Larcom 1 0-0 2, Tim Bassett 3 1-2 7, Wes Moore 3 1-2 7, Jesse Lattimer 1 0-0 2, Mason Moore 1 0-0 2, Christian Thoren 1 1-1 3. Totals 18 6-9 44.
Jordan Jackson 5 1-3 12, Joe Doganiero 4 4-4 12, Dylan Prough 6 0-0 12, Matt Reese 1 1-3 3, Kieron Smethers 1 1-4 3, Mike Pietropola 5 0-0 15, Dawson Prough 2 0-0 4. Totals 24 7-14 61.
Canton8 9 8 19-44
Wellsboro19 24 13 5-61
3-pointers: Canton 2 (Watson 2); Wellsboro (6 Pietropola 5, Jackson).
Records: Wellsboro 22-1. Canton 14-10.