Pastore helps Lancers pull away in victory

Loyalsock's Anthony Pastore shoots around the defending Hughesville players during the game Friday night in Loyalsock.

By CHRIS MASSE

cmasse@sungazette.com

Anthony Pastore did not even realize the bleachers rested just a few inches below him. He did not care either.

A year after missing his freshman season with a torn ACL, Pastore will do anything as long as he is on the basketball court. Friday that meant the Loyalsock guard was willing to go nearly all the way up the bleachers chasing a loose ball. It also meant providing a huge third-quarter spark that started changing the game’s complexion.

Pastore is one of Loyalsock’s most valuable reserves, backing up explosive point guard Marcus Williams. He might not light up the scoreboard, but Pastore lights up his teammates and the crowd and his third-quarter energy helped Loyalsock break open a close game and defeat rival Hughes­ville, 66-42. Williams dazzled again, scoring a game-high 25 points and Pastore did his best Williams impersonation, ad­ding eight to go along with three steals as Loyalsock (6-0) stayed undefeated and overcame a seven-point second-quar­ter deficit.

“That’s what I look forward to when I go in,” Pastore said. “Coach always tells us it’s not about the minutes you’re in. Everybody is going to get their chance and when you get your chance you just have to go out and play hard.”

That is the only way Pastore knows how to play. And after suffering a torn ACL playing summer league basketball in 2015, Pastore is taking nothing for granted. That is why a few seconds after scoring on a pretty up and under move, Pastore deflected a pass out of bounds and went skyward trying to save it. Those two plays brought what had been a subdued crowd to life and Loyalsock started clicking, ending the third quarter with a quick burst that gave it a six-point lead.

Pastore provided just the lift Loyalsock needed against Hughes­ville and scored four more points in the fourth as Loyalsock erupted. The Lancers outscored Hughesville, 26-8, turning what had been looking like another classic rivalry game into a rout.

“Anthony is our next Marcus and he knows that,” Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. “He plays hard and, most importantly, he has a great passion for the game. He just lives in the gym and works really hard. He’s going to be very good some day.”

“Missing last year, I learned that you have to be patient and that everyone is going to get their chance,” Pastore said. “Sitting out really helps you learn the game of basketball and makes you a smarter player. Everything is starting to come to me. I was a little shaky the first couple games and now I feel like I’m back into it.”

Williams put Loyalsock back into the game in the second quarter after Hughesville led 13-6. The senior leader, who also missed last year with a torn ACL, scored 11 second-quarter points, and 17 of Loyalsock’s 33, as the Lancers took a 33-31 third-quarter lead. Pastore’s hustle plays extended that lead and Hughesville never pulled closer than four again.

The value Pastore provides was evident all night as Williams stayed fresh and shredded Hughesville’s tenacious de­fense. Williams helped Loyal­sock get back into the game in the middle quarters and then helped it win the game in the fourth quarter, scoring eight more quick points, with his turnaround jumper making it 53-40 with four minutes remaining. The Lancers, also receiving 14 points and three steals from Gerald Ross, dominated from there, allowing just two more points and overcoming a second-half deficit for a third time.

“Marcus brings so many different dimensions to the game. When he’s clicking on all cylinders and he’s not in foul trouble he’s tough to defend,” Insinger said. “He’s just so quick. He just makes everyone else look a little bit better.”

Hughesville (3-3) will continue getting better despite last night’s results. The Spartans, state qualifiers last year, have just one starter back from that team and are missing a starter, along with their sixth man. The injuries have forced several players into competing at new positions. Still, Hughesville looked especially strong in the first half, using a late 10-0 second-quarter run to erase a five-point deficit and build a 27-24 halftime lead.

The Spartans, however, struggled throughout the second half and turned the ball over 10 times, six coming in the fourth quarter. A Luke Ergott jumper pulled Hughesville within 40-36 on the first fourth-quarter possession, but Loyalsock ended the game on a 26-6 run.

“When one guy loses his mind a little bit, everyone loses their minds a little bit. That’s not only not being mentally tough, but also being immature,” Hughes­ville coach Nick Tagliaferri said. “Our guys have really worked hard. Other than Landon (Hen­ry), we have a bunch of guys who are new to varsity and if we want to accomplish the things we want to we have to grow up. That’s the biggest thing.”

Henry scored 13 points and had three assists and 6-foot-10 Taylor Mason recorded his third double-double, going for 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. Conrad Sheatler added 12 points. The Spartans are in the midst a brutal stretch of games that started with games against 6 and 5A schools at the Hollidaysburg Tournament and continues with a tournament including state-ranked Sullivan County and 5A Muhlenberg next week.

These are the games that traditionally have made Hughes­ville a tough out come playoff time. The Spartans have reached states seven times since 2006 and if Hughesville continues learning from these games they could again be a title contender.

“It would have been really easy to go and play a bunch of average teams to break in a new group and it might have even been the smart thing, but that’s not what I believe in, that’s not what we’re about. I’d rather be battle-tested,” Tagliaferri said. “Our goal every year is to go to the state tournament every year and you don’t do that fluffing up your record along the way. That battles have already helped us. The improvement is encouraging because we’re significantly better than we were on night one and it not just the varsity, it’s the whole group.”

HUGHESVILLE (42)

Landon Henry 5 1-2 13, Taylor Mason 3 3-4 10, Conrad Sheatler 3 6-6 12, Matt Myers 0 1-2 1, Ryan McClain 0 0-0 0, Luke Ergott 2 0-0 4, Brandon Buck 1 0-0 2, Malachi Savage 0 0-0 0, Seth ones 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 11-15 42.

LOYALSOCK (66)

Gerald Ross 4 6-7 14, Marcus Williams 10 5-6 25, Michael Lapoint 3 0-0 6, Andrew Malone 2 0-0 5, Hunter Webb 0 0-0 0, Joey Worth 1 2-5 3, Connor Watkins 1 2-2 4, Andrew Muggleton 0 0-0 0, Anthony Pastore 4 0-0 8, Brandon Bauman 0 1-2 1, Collin Graver 0 0-0 0, Mitch Klingerman 0 0-0 0, Derek Gee 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 15-22 66.

Hughesville    13 14 7 8–42

Loyalsock    6 18 16 26–66

3-pointers: Hughesville 3 (Henry 2, Mason); Loyalsock 1 (Malone).

Records: Loyalsock 6-0. Hughesville 3-3.

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