Lancers’ Omar Little carries on family tradition

Omar Little Sr. cannot play basketball right now. The former Williamsport standout broke his leg last summer and is still recovering.

When Little Sr. takes the court again, his son Omar Little Jr. will be waiting. Fifteen years after his dad shined at Williamsport, Little Jr. excelled on the same court last Saturday. He scored 19 points and helped lead Loyalsock to a 63-54 Class AA first round state tournament win over Mid Valley. It was another statement that revealed when his father returns, Little Jr. has next.

“He’s healing now but I’ll get him,” Little Jr. said.

Before that showdown, Little hopes he has more games left in his sophomore season. Loyalsock (25-3) plays in Wednesday’s second round against Communications Tech and the winner advances to the state quarterfinals. His father averaged 16.4 points per game during the 1996 and 1997 seasons at Williamsport and now Little is carrying on the family tradition.

“It just makes me excited to try and build on that,” Little said.

The sophomore guard was a key reserve and sometimes started a year ago as Loyalsock captured the district title and won 22 games. He is one of four sophomore starters this season and his growth reflects that of the team’s. The Lancers have built off last year’s success and have won as many games as any Loyalsock team this century.

The Lancers also won their first state playoff game since 2009 Saturday and can become the first this century to reach the state quarterfinals if they win again. Little has been instrumental to the success, averaging 11 points, three assists and two steals per game.

Saturday, Little was at his best. A quick guard with a nice touch, Little hit 8 of 12 shots, added three assists and four rebounds and helped Loyalsock exorcize the demons of last year’s buzzer-beating first-round loss. Little’s nine first-quarter points cooled Mid Valley and his nine fourth-quarter points helped the Lancers clinch the win.

“If Omar wants to be a great player he can do whatever he wants on the court,” fellow guard Mike Pastore said. “He played a great game for us.”

Little took over in the fourth quarter just when it looked like Mid Valley might make a big comeback. He scored four straight points, including on a pretty up and under move in which he sliced through two defenders, after Mid Valley had pulled within eight. Little then fed Roger Wilson for a layup and hit a nice floater in the line to ignite a game-clinching 8-0 run.

Little made four of his final five shots and played big when Loyalsock needed him most. It was not an accident either. Coach Ron Insinger saw the performance coming days in advance and it was the result of old-fashioned hard work.

“It doesn’t surprise me because Omar had three straight nights of unbelievable practices,” Insinger said. “His practices had me sleeping better at night because I knew if he continued (Saturday) like he has been practicing the last couple of nights he was going to go to the next level.”

It was another strong performance in a postseason filled with them. Little made an impact in all three district playoff wins and scored a game-high 17 points in a 57-37 district championship win over Wellsboro.

Little is still learning. He has outstanding talent, but like many players has been up and down at times. He is still a teenager and varsity basketball is a growing process. The bonus for Loyalsock is that as Little’s production has been increasing so too has his maturity level.

The combination of those two factors makes for quite a basketball player.

“We talked about composure and energy,” Insinger said. “He has to work on that but he has made great strides this year. He has grown from a boy into a young man.”

And into a player ready to challenge his father for family bragging rights.