Loyalsock beats Lewisburg a fourth time
MILTON – The outcome decided, Ben Sosa delivered one more emphatic statement. As Lewisburg’s Erich Kline drove in for an apparent layup, Sosa blocked the shot and sent it toward the bleachers.
Call it one last shattering of the cliche that a good team cannot beat another quality team three times. Loyalsock did it four times instead.
Roger Wilson played a spectacular game, recording his fourth straight double-double against Lewisburg while four other starters scored at least nine points as Loyalsock completed a four-game sweep Wednesday and downed the Green Dragons, 64-55 in the District 4 Class AA semifinals.
Loyalsock (23-3) is the only team that has beaten the state’s Class AA No. 9 team in Lewisburg and earned a spot in its second straight championship Saturday at 3 at Mansfield University against Wellsboro. It also clinched a fifth straight state tournament berth.
“It was real tough but they say you can’t beat them four times and that’s the thing: when people say you can’t, you have to believe that you can,” said Wilson, who scored 21 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked six shots. “You have to keep your composure and keep your intensity up. It’s just another game we’re going out to win.”
Loyalsock took Round IV much the way it did the first three, by making a game-changing run. After Lewisburg (22-4) took its first and only lead, 26-24 early in the third quarter, Loyalsock caught fire and closed on a 20-6 run while taking a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter. Lewisburg, which will play East Juniata in the third-place game, never pulled closer than nine again.
Wilson scored the first six points during the run before Kyle Datres scored on a drive and Mike Pastore hit a 3-pointer. Just four minutes after falling behind, Loyalsock went up 37-28 when Omar Little drained a 3-pointer. Little capped a brilliant team quarter when he hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
“I could see it in their eyes. Once we got behind all the sudden the killer instinct set in,” said Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger, who won his 798th career game. “We went on a 13-2 run and at that point they wanted to step on the jugular, they wanted to finish the game.”
“When they got the lead it set in our minds that this can’t happen,” Wilson said. “We’re coming on this run and we’re coming after you.”
As in the three previous games, Lewisburg never went away. It threw a couple body punches as Sam Allen started dominating, but Loyalsock never let it off the ropes and Wilson, along with Mike Pastore, helped land the knockout blows. Wilson made a steal near midcourt and scored on a layup after Lewisburg had pulled within 10 and Pastore’s steal and drive made it 61-48 with 1:20 remaining.
Loyalsock was thin on the bench because of sickness, but it did not matter. Datres was outstanding, scoring 10 points, dealing 11 assists and grabbing six rebounds while again smothering standout Travis Conrad. Little scored 12 points and also played well against Conrad while Pastore had 10 points and four assists. Sosa added nine points and six rebounds.
That strong all-around performance offset Allen’s stellar performance. Playing through a hip flexor injury, the 6-foot-6 freshman scored 15 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots. He held his own against Wilson again and tried willing Lewisburg back into the game, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter while making his final five shots from the field and the line.
“Sam was probably playing about 85 percent but he didn’t back down,” Lewisburg coach John Vaji said. “He kept on taking it and taking it. Not only him, but I’m very proud of the whole team, but he really battled.”
Mike Driscoll added 11 points for Lewisburg and Conrad had nine. Lewisburg is seeking its second state appearance in four years Friday against East Juniata.
Loyalsock is seeking its second straight district championship and eighth since 2001.
“The major thing is make sure that there is no letdown because that can easily happen because there’s been a lot of hype for this game,” Insinger said. “Everyone’s been talking about the four deal and we can’t afford to let down. We have to pound it in their mind in practice and make sure they are prepared for the next one.”
Roger Wilson 9 3-6 21, Kyle Datres 5 0-0 10, Omar Little 4 2-4 12, Ben Sosa 4 1-3 9, Mike Pastore 3 3-4 10, Ryan Bogaczyk 0 0-0 0, Tommy Baggett 0 0-0 0, Luke Glavin 1 0-0 2, Jimmy Webb 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 9-17 64.
Travis Conrad 2 5-7 9, Erich Kline 3 1-2 7, Sam Allen 6 3-3 15, Mike Driscoll 4 0-1 11, Jesse Flannery 2 2-4 6, Nick Costigliola 3 1-2 7, Dan Cole 0 0-0 0, Drew Newcomb 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 12-19 55.
Loyalsock11 13 22 18–64
Lewisburg7 15 10 23–55
3-pointers: Loyalsock 3 (Little 2, Pastore); Lewisburg 3 (Driscoll 3).
Records: Loyalsock 23-3. Lewisburg 23-4.