Loyalsock boys beat Central Mountain in HAC semis
SUNBURY — Playing for a spot in the Heartland Conference championship really was just a bonus Thursday night. What Loyalsock coveted even more was a second chance against Central Mountain.
The Wildcats routed Loyalsock by 18 exactly a month from last night’s game and led by as many as 28 in the second half that night. It was one of the worst losses in recent Loyalsock history, but the Lancers erased those memories, exacted revenge and earned redemption in a big way.
Hunter Webb grabbed 13 rebounds, Marcus Williams scored 14 points and Loyalsock played super first-half defense as it built a 20-point lead and defeated Central Mountain, 52-44 in the Heartland semifinals at the Shikellamy Field House. Loyalsock (18-5) earned a spot against HAC-III champion Central Columbia in tonight’s final after the Blue Jays edged HAC-I champion Selinsgrove, 52-50.
“They embarrassed us in our house a couple weeks ago and most of the kids had fire in their eyes, especially the seniors,” Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. “The seniors really came through for us.”
The Lancers performed a complete 180 from the first Central Mountain game, scoring the game’s first 14 points and holding a potent offense to just one field goal in the first 14 minutes. Loyalsock led 24-4 midway through the second quarter and embraced the opportunity it wanted so bad.
“It’s always exciting when you get a second chance against someone that cracked us earlier in the season,” Webb said. “We just knew what we had to bring to this game to win and we prepared all week for it. It was good to showcase what we’ve been preparing for.”
“We wanted Central Mountain because they blew us out the first time,” Michael LaPoint said after scoring eight points and grabbing nine rebounds. “It meant a lot to us to have a second chance at that game and to get to the championship as well.”
Starters and reserves made big impacts and Loyalsock executed especially well in the first half. Williams dealt four assists to go along with his 14 points while Gerald Ross added 11 points and three steals. Andrew Malone hit some tough shots and scored eight points while Andrew Muggleton (five rebounds) made a nice impact inside. Add in Mitch Klingerman scoring five straight second-quarter points and Loyalsock displayed exactly the kind of balance that it lacked the first time it played Central Mountain.
It helped too that the defense was outstanding. Central Mountain (15-8) scored 73 points in the first game but Loyalsock harassed it throughout the first half and held the Wildcats scoreless until 40 seconds remained in the first quarter. Central Mountain made just 3 of 20 first-half shots and Loyalsock built a 29-13 halftime lead.
“Any time you lose a tough one that makes you just want it that much more,” Webb said. “You don’t want to go down like that again and we didn’t.”
“Our defense got us here. I’ve been preaching that all along. The defense shouldn’t have a bad evening and they didn’t tonight,” Insinger said. “We knew it was a matter of time before (Kyle) Everhart and (Brody) Baker we’re going to catch on fire and they did, but we minimized their attempts.”
Everhart (11 points, 5 rebounds) started hitting 3-pointers like they were layups in the third quarter, draining three and Baker added two more in the second half as Central Mountain pulled within 10 entering the fourth quarter. The Wildcats kept rallying in the fourth as a Justin Neff putback and Baker 3-pointer made it 47-39 with 3 minutes, 45 seconds remaining. Baker had a 3-pointer that would have made it a five-point game go in and out and the Wildcats did not pull within seven until Wyatt Bumbarger hit a 3-pointer in the final 30 seconds.
LaPoint and Webb helped Loyalsock clinch the win, dominating the boards in the closing minutes. LaPoint also scored on a drive that made it 49-39. Webb and LaPoint clinched the win with 25 seconds remaining as Webb grabbed a rebound and found LaPoint for a layup. Those two were a big reason Loyalsock outrebounded Central Mountain, 36-22.
Loyalsock won its first HAC tournament game since the inaugural tournament in 2013 and now will be trying to win its first title since that year.
“This gym is real nice and the atmosphere is great,” LaPoint said. “To have a chance to play for a championship is special.”
“There’s 20 teams in the PHAC and only four played here tonight,” Insinger said. “I told them beforehand these are the kind of games you never forget.”
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN (44)
Kyle Everhart 4 0-0 11, Brody Baker 4 0-0 11, Justin Neff 3 0-0 6, Wyatt Bumbarger 2 0-0 6, Matt Storeman 2 6-6 10, Collin Jones 0 0-0 0, Trevor Hanna 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 6-6 44.
Marcus Williams 6 2-6 14, Gerald Ross 5 0-0 11, Michael LaPoint 4 0-0 8, Andrew Malone 4 0-0 8, Hunter Webb 1 1-5 3, Joey Worth 0 0-2 0, Andrew Muggleton 0 2-2 2, Connor Watkins 0 0-0 0, Mitch Klingerman 2 0-0 5, Anthony Pastore 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 6-17 52.
C. Mountain 2 11 17 14–44
Loyalsock 14 15 12 11–52
3-pointers: Central Mountain 8 (Everhart 3, Baker 3, Bumbarger 2); Loyalsock 2 (Ross, Klingerman).
Records: Loyalsock 18-5. Central Mountain 15-8.