Webb leads Lancer defensive effort in win

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Loyalsock's Connor Watkins, (4) and Hughesville's Matt Myers (14) wrestle for the ball in the second quarter Tuesday at Hughesville.

HUGHESVILLE — Hunter Webb has played stellar defense the last three years, helping Loyalsock win a championship and many games.

And that’s just in basketball.

Yes, Webb has made his most numerous headlines playing football, becoming an all-state linebacker and earning a scholarship to continue playing at Connecticut. Webb might not possess the same basketball talent, but he is a blue-collar player who makes a dramatic impact nearly every game even he does not score. He proved that once again Tuesday night against Loyalsock’s biggest rival the last 12 years.

Despite giving up nine inches, Webb helped hold dynamic 6-foot-11 Hughesville center Taylor Mason to 11 points. Bam Brima also took his turn slowing down Mason and the help-side defense was superb as Loyalsock led start to finish and defeated Hughesville, 58-40. Mason still made a big impact, grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking seven shots, but Webb helped hold him scoreless in the first half as Loyalsock (3-0) built an 18-point lead and played a major role in him not reaching double figures until 24 seconds remained and the outcome had been decided.

“I love going in and giving it my all. That’s one thing you’ll see me doing, is I’ll give you my all,” Webb said. “No matter how big or how little the person is I’m guarding, I’m going to give it 100 percent and I know if I screw up I have four guys behind me who are ready to pick me up.”

Webb has embraced that hard-hat defensive role the last three seasons and it has helped Loyalsock thrive. Gerald Ross played an outstanding all-around game last night, scoring 19 points and making seven steals. Mitch Klingerman shined in the fourth quarter again and scored 10 points while point guard Anthony Pastore delivered nine points, five rebounds and four assists.

Still, Webb’s ability to slow a many nearly a foot taller than him stood out the most. The 6-2, 210-pounder used his strength to effectively front Mason throughout the game and keep him farther away from the basket than he would like. He and Brima limited Mason to just two first-half shots and four through the first three quarters. Everything Mason earned, he did that hard way because Webb never gave ground. Three nights after Mason scored 26 points against Montoursville, Webb slowed him down and in doing so, choked off the entire Hughesville offense.

“I start by trying to front him just because I know I have the guys behind me ready to help,” Webb said. “He’s very talented and when he moves around and that’s where our backside help comes up so big.”

“Hunter is the man for that. He loves contact, he loves physical play,” Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. “He doesn’t have to score. Any time he scores it’s a bonus for us. He’s happy just being on the court being the workhorse. For him that’s like scoring 20 points.”

Webb and Brima share a similar mentality and are sparking a team that has collectively embracing hard-nosed defense. Going back to early in the second quarter against Wellsboro Saturday, Loyalsock has allowed just 58 points in 54 minutes against teams who had scored 62 and 60 points in their two previous games. Defense played a huge role in Loyalsock building its halftime lead as it made 12 steals and allowed just four field goals.

“We love playing defense. I’ve never really been on a collective basketball team where people genuinely like to play defense,” Webb said. “We’re one of those groups where we like to stop people and we like to prove what we’ve got on the other side of the court as well. It complements itself very well.”

Hughesville (0-2) is experiencing some early growing pains after dropping its second straight home game. While Hughesville has two starters back from last year’s District 4 Class AAA champion, they are playing fairly new roles and point guard Devon Bushor is playing a new position. Throw in all-around threat Luke Ergott being injured, Pat Rogers learning a new defensive role and the bench consisting mainly of players with limited to no varsity experience and it is not shocking that Hughesville has lost to two good teams.

There is optimism, though, because Hughesville traditionally grows much better throughout the season and won districts a season ago after starting 8-8. As the Spartans gain more experience they could become more dangerous and showed why, playing a strong third quarter and making it a 10-point game entering the fourth quarter.

“We’re actually going to be pretty darn good at some point, I just don’t know when,” Hughesville coach Nick Tagliaferri said. “We just have to clean up some simple stuff. I don’t understand our mental disturbance in the first half. I felt we were never out of the game if we stopped turning it over.”

Hughesville did that in the third quarter as it scored 18 points and ended the quarter on an 8-2 run sparked by Matt Myers who scored the quarter’s final five points. The Spartans had two excellent looks at 3-pointers that could have made it a single-digit game, but each rimmed out. Ross then started taking over, hitting a floater before Klingerman went coast to coast. Ross scored six more points in the quarter and made 4 of his last 5 shots while the team made 8 of 10. In its last two games, Loyalsock has made 16 of 20 shots, unselfishly moving the ball and setting each other up for quality looks.

Bushor and freshman Clayton Poust made a nice impact for Hughesville at times and combined for 15 points. Both scored in the fourth quarter, but, following Klingerman’s layup, Hughesville never pulled closer than 14 again.

“Sock did a great job defensively and we guarded much better than Saturday. I think we have a high ceiling defensively,” Tagliaferri said. “We’re just going to keep getting better.”

LOYALSOCK (58)

Gerald Ross 8 2-3 19, Anthony Pastore 3 3-5 9, Connor Watkins 3 0-0 6, Hunter Webb 1 5-5 7, Mitch Klingerman 5 0-3 10, Brandon Bauman 0 0-0 0, Bam Brima 0 0-1 0, Collin Graver 2 0-0 6, Derek Gee 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 11-19 58.

HUGHESVILLE (40)

Taylor Mason 5 0-0 11, Matt Myers 2 3-4 9, Devon Bushor 4 2-2 10, Pat Rogers 0 0-0 0, Stephen Sheets 0 0-2 0, Isaiah Savage 1 0-0 3, Devon Braden 0 0-0 0, Jaret Stroup 0 0-0 0, Clayton Poust 2 1-2 5, Steve Millheim 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 6-10 40.

Loyalsock 11 19 10 18–58

Hughesville 3 9 18 10–40

3-pointers: Loyalsock 3 (Graver 2, Ross); Hughesville 4 (Myers 2, Savage, Mason).

Records: Loyalsock 3-0. Hughesville 0-2.

JV Score: Loyalsock 71-41.

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