MANSFIELD - Dan Temons earned a varsity letter, two points and a district championship in about 30 seconds Saturday afternoon.
Temons, an autistic Loyalsock senior, scored the final two points of the game on an assist from Wellsboro sophomore Dawson Prough as the Lancers defeated the Green Hornets, 57-37, at Mansfield University's Decker Gymnasium in the District 4 Class AA boys basketball championship.
It was the second straight title for the Lancers and the 17th of coach Ron Insinger's career. Insinger will go for his 800th career victory Saturday in the PIAA playoffs vs. Mid Valley at a time and place to be determined.
Loyalsock head coach Ron Insinger hugs Dan Temons during the award ceremony on Saturday at Mansfield University. The Lancers defeated Wellsboro for the District 4 Class AA championship.
"We're one big family," said Temons. "This is one of the best years of my life to see everyone working so hard. It's amazing."
Insinger gave Temons and other junior varsity call-ups a moment of playing time at the end of the game after the Heartland Athletic Conference champion Lancers (24-3) had long since erased an early 15-4 deficit by wearing down the Northern Tier League champion Green Hornets (23-2). Insinger said it's Loyalsock's custom to award a varsity letter to everyone who plays in a district championship, so checking into the game was one good moment for Temons.
Another one followed as the packed crowd applauded Temons when he caught a pass and tried a short jump shot as the clock wound down. He missed, but Prough took the last rebound and tossed it back to Temons, who made a layup to a standing ovation as time expired.
"I was honored to give it to him," Prough said. "It was a big moment and it means a lot to him."
Down 18, Wellsboro coach Todd Outman told his team to let Temons score after his first miss, that no one should put another hand in his face. Outman didn't specifically call for Prough to pass the ball back to Temons, but couldn't have been happier with his sophomore reserve, making the most of his only minute on the court.
"It feels like a miracle when I made that 2-point shot, a miracle for these guys to look at me, everybody," said Temons. "The whole crowd was cheering crazy and for (Prough), so kind to give me the basketball when I could have sworn he was going to try and make a shot.
"I'd never seen him, and to have the courage and heart to give me the shot," said Temons. "He was such a kind man I should thank him for giving me a chance."
Temons and Prough did not appear to meet up again after the game, going their separate ways on team buses once the medals had been awarded and postgame interviews granted on the gym floor.
Insinger said tears rolled down his cheeks as he saw Temons score. Loyalsock players Omar Little and Kyle Datres also thanked Wellsboro for allowing the opportunity.
But Little and Datres had a lot to do with creating that opportunity, too, turning what started as a Wellsboro rout into a Loyalsock rout. The Lancers closed the game on a 53-22 run over the final three quarters and allowed just nine second-half points.
Little led Loyalsock with 17 points, while Datres had 13 with 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks and 4 steals. Roger Wilson scored 11 points with 10 rebounds and 6 blocks.
The Lancers held Wellsboro without a field goal for the first 5 1/2 minutes of the third quarter and never trailed after a Ben Sosa layup made it 29-28 early in the third quarter. Consecutive 3-pointers by Datres gave the Lancers a two-possession lead for good.
The Hornets, who stuck to a six-man rotation with just two seniors in Jordan Jackson and Matt Reese, never rallied. As District 4 runner-up, Wellsboro will play District 3 champion Delone Catholic on Saturday at a time and place to be determined in the first round of the PIAAs.
"This was the first time we got tired all year and it showed," Outman said. "We've tried to strengthen our schedule, we played Octorara and Lewisburg, but we don't experience this night in, night out like they do in the HAC."
Wellsboro started out much better than that, taking a 15-4 lead after consecutive Mike Pietropola 3-pointers. The start also included two quick fouls against Wilson, the Lancers' 6-foot-5 center.
But Loyalsock stiffened on defense, holding the Green Hornets to 22 points in the last 26 minutes. Kieron Smethers led Wellsboro with eight points.
"Every time we pump-faked them they'd go out and soon they were in foul trouble," Little said.
The Lancers did survive a second-half scare when Datres landed on his wrist after a collision, but he returned to the game after a few minutes of rest and said he felt fine.
Even though the lead was safe, no one was taking anything for granted. Not after Insinger said he reminded everyone, even the sophomores, they might never play in another district title game.
"I could have sworn we were never going to win the whole district. Holy cow," Temons said. "I just got shocked. Oh, praise the lord. Thank heavens."
Kyle Datres 3 4-6 13; Mike Pastore 2-5 0-1 4; Omar Little 6-13 2-6 17; Roger Wilson 6-10 1-4 11; Ben Sosa 2 0-0 4; Tommy Baggett 0 0-0 0; Ryan Bogaczyk 2 0-0 4; Josh Howell 0 0-0 0; Dan Temons 1 0-0 2; Wes LaPoint 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 7-17 57
Joe Doganiero 2 0-0 5; Jordan Jackson 3 1-2 7; Matt Reese 2 1-2 5; Dylan Prough 3 0-0 6; Kieron Smethers 4 0-2 8; Jermaine Brooks 0 0-0 0; Mike Pietropola 2 0-0 6; Kyler Widows 0 0-0 0; Nick Marple 0 0-0 0; Dawson Prough 0 0-0 0; Jake Mitchell 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 2-6 37
Loyalsock8 15 19 15 - 57
Wellsboro15 13 7 2 - 37
3pt-FG: Loyalsock 4 (Datres 3, Little). Wellsboro 3 (Pietropola 2, Doganiero).