Webb and LaPoint lift Lancers through midseason

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette
Loyalsock's Hunter Webb (22) shoots over Central Mountain's Brody Baker (22) in the first quarter.

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Loyalsock's Hunter Webb (22) shoots over Central Mountain's Brody Baker (22) in the first quarter.

Hunter Webb fought hard, outjumped a Central Mountain player and grabbed the late-game re­bound. He then whipped a pass toward Michael La­Point who scored and clinched a Heartland Confer­ence semifinal win.

Webb and LaPoint have traveled difficult roads, but they converged on that play to send Loyalsock to its first HAC championship appearance since 2013. It seemed fitting too, since both were so valuable throughout Thurs­day’s 52-44 win over Central Mountain. Webb did not play basketball two years ago and LaPoint missed last season with a torn ACL and MCL. Now, both are playing as well as they ever have and delivered two of their strongest performances last night.

Webb grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds and dealt four assists. LaPoint scored eight points, including four big ones late, and grabbed nine rebounds as Loyalsock (18-5) exacted revenge against Central Mountain.

“I play the game be­cause I like to play and I love winning and I love being on the team,” Webb said. “Any­thing I can do to help the team win I love doing it.”

“I missed this last year,” LaPoint said. “Being in big games like this so much fun.”

Loyalsock has been having a lot of fun since that first Central Mountain game and Webb and LaPoint are major reasons why. Webb has made major strides after relearning the game last year and has become one of the area’s best rebounders. Webb provides Loyalsock an endless supply of energy and has a knack for extending possessions.

Webb was a force against Central Mountain and grabbed eight first-quarter rebounds as Loyalsock set the tone and built a 14-0 lead. He then grabbed three big rebounds in the game’s final minute after Central Mountain rallied, helping deliver the knockout blow. Webb might not score much, but his presence has been critical toward Loyal­sock rallying to win the HAC-II championship. Ex­actly what makes him so indispensable was evident all game last night.

“I love it. It’s one of my favorite things to do,” Webb said. “With a team like that that can shoot the lights out every possessions matters so I was just trying to do my job and do what I could for the team.”

“He’s so strong and he anticipates well and he fights for position really well,” Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. “Sometimes that gets him in foul trouble early, but for the most part, he’s learned to play smarter. He’s just an invaluable resource to have inside.”

LaPoint is providing the same value. A key reserve on a state semifinalist two years ago, LaPoint was robbed of his junior season after suffering a gruesome knee injury during the spring of 2015. He had shown glimpse of that 2015 form earlier but, at this most critical stage, he really seems to being putting all together now.

The senior forward can take his game inside and outside and combined with Webb to form a strong rebounding tandem. La­Point grabbed four first-quarter rebounds and then shined when the game was at its most tense. First, LaPoint scored on a pretty drive that put Loyalsock up 10 and stopped a Central Mountain rally. He then grabbed two rebounds in the last minute and turned Webb’s heads-up pass into the game-clinching drive.

Missing last season was as painful as anything LaPoint ever experienced. But he sure is embracing his second chance and making Loyalsock more dangerous.

“I love this,” LaPoint said. “The adrenaline is up, everything is up, the crowd gets into it. It’s real fun and I’m playing every game like it’s my last.”

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