Loyalsock uses rebounds to advantage in victory over Montoursville
As good as Gerald Ross was during the second quarter Tuesday night, one play stood out. It was not the typical flashy play that television stations often show.
It was just some good, old-school toughness. Ross watched a shot bounce off the rim, pounced, grabbed the offensive rebound and scored. Ross scored 13 points in that game-changing second quarter against Montoursville but it was the offensive rebound sequence that illustrated the difference in this game. What Ross did on that play was something he and his teammates did all night.
Loyalsock grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and scored 16 of its first 22 points after securing offensive boards as it defeated Montoursville, 55-47 on its home court and swept the season series. The Lancers (13-4, 5-2 HAC-II) owned a 32-19 rebounding advantage and Ross and Marcus Williams both scored 16 points as they built a 14-point lead after three quarters and held off a furious Montoursville fourth-quarter rally.
“At halftime, coach said the reason we were winning was because of our offensive rebounding,” Ross said. “That was what got us the lead and I could see the confidence in my teammates eyes from the first quarter through the fourth.”
The game’s end mirrored its beginning, too. A Noah Fagnano 3-pointer cut the deficit to 52-47 with 22.7 seconds remaining. Williams hit the front end of a 1-and-1 but missed the second shot. Hunter Webb (8 rebounds) grabbed the offensive rebound and Williams shot again. Williams missed the front end this time, but Webb again secured the offensive rebound.
Connor Watkins then hit the two ensuing free throws as Loyalsock clinched a win in a rematch of a game it won 66-63 in overtime last month.
“Hunter has had a couple great rebounding games. He’s just priceless in there when it comes down to pulling down those rebounds,” Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. “Once he gets possession he’s not going to lose it so that was huge.”
“We got destroyed on the boards,” Montoursville coach Mike Mussina said. “There was never a lull in it where we were really good either. They just played tougher and more physical than we did.”
Take away the second quarter and Montoursville outscored Loyalsock by one. But that quarter was a huge one for Loyalsock as Ross locked in and took over. The sophomore guard scored 13 of the Lancers’ first 14 points that quarter and made all five shots from the field, including consecutive 3-pointers. Ross outscored Montoursville himself, 13-7 that quarter and the Lancers built a nine-point halftime lead.
The game was tied 10-10 after the first quarter, but Ross hit a 3-pointer in the corner while being fouled and drained the ensuing free throw. That sparked a 9-0 run as Loyalsock seized control and won the second quarter, 16-7.
“After the first quarter, after I missed that easy shot, CI got in my face and said I have to hit shots and I said, ‘Ok, I’ve got you,'” Ross said. “I went back in and shot it confidently and they started to fall.”
“We had a really bad second quarter and that was the difference in the game,” Mussina said. “You can’t win it in the first half but you can certainly lose it and that’s the way it turned out.”
Williams scored 10 of his 16 points in the third quarter and a late Lancer surge capped by a last-second Joey Worth shot had Loyalsock up 44-30 entering the fourth. Montoursville, however, forced five turnovers in the final quarter’s first four minutes and went on a 8-0 run to make it a six-point game. Michael LaPoint found Connor Watkins for a layup but a Fagnano 3-pointer made it 46-41 with 3:20 remaining.
LaPoint then made a difficult reverse layup and Williams scored inside, pushing the lead to 50-41 with 1:25 remaining. A Brycen Mussina 3-pointer made it 50-44, but Williams hit both ends of a 1-and-1 and added another free throw following Fagnano’s 3-pointer that made it a 5-point game. Webb’s rebounding brought the game full circle seconds later on a night when Loyalsock might not have been dynamic offensively but was mighty blue-collar.
“Hunter gets us so many rebounds,” Ross said. “He got us those two great rebounds off free throws. That saved us.”
LaPoint exerted a big influence on the game’s outcome as well. The senior who missed last season with a knee injury played tremendous defense and also grabbed six rebounds and made two steals. His two big late-game plays also helped deny Montoursville a dramatic comeback win.
“Mike’s getting more confident with each game,” Insinger said. “Hopefully by the time we get into the playoffs he’s got his A game every night.”
Fagnano scored a game-high 17 points for Montoursville and added four assists. Brycen Mussina delivered 13 points and four assists and Ethan Buirch had a strong second half, finishing with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Marcus Williams 5 5-8 16, Gerald Ross 6 2-3 16, Michael LaPoint 3 0-0 6, Andrew Malone 1 0-0 3, Hunter Webb 0 0-2 0, Joey Worth 3 0-0 6, Andrew Muggleton 2 0-0 4, Connor Watkins 1 2-2 4, Mitch Klingerman 0 0-0 0, Anthony Pastore 0 0-0 0, Derek Gee 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 9-16 55.
Brycen Mussina 4 1-2 13, Noah Fagnano 7 0-0 17, Ethan Buirch 4 2-2 10, Owen Kiess 0 0-0 0, Abdi Rodriguez 1 0-0 2, Luke Warnecke 2 1-1 5, John McCarthy 0 0-0 0, Tyler Riedy 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 4-5 47.
Loyalsock 10 16 18 11–55
Montoursville 10 7 13 17–47
3-point goals: Loyalsock 4 (Ross 2, Williams, Malone 1); Montoursville 7 (Mussina 4, Fagnano 3).
JV score: Montoursville, 69-57.
Records: Loyalsock (13-4, 5-2 HAC-II), Montoursville (6-9, 1-6).