Lynch scores career high 29 for the Knights in win

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette St. John Neumann's Jaiden Lynch collides with Muncy's Dylan Wilt as he drives to the basket Saturday at Neumann.

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette St. John Neumann's Jaiden Lynch collides with Muncy's Dylan Wilt as he drives to the basket Saturday at Neumann.

Jaiden Lynch really had no offseason last summer. As soon as the St. John Neu­mann senior started preparing, he broke his collar bone. When Lynch found his rhythm earlier this season he injured his ankle. Then, one game after returning, he injured it again.

Lynch certainly has not had an easy senior year. But through the storm clouds, the sun light is now shining through. And Saturday afternoon, Lynch shined as bright as he ever has during his stellar scholastic career.

Lynch unleashed his en­tire arsenal at the Catholic Com­munity Center, scoring a career-high 29 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, dealing four assists and leading Neumann to an impressive 78-41 win against Muncy. Lynch scored 16 first-quarter points, hit four 3-pointers and sparked a strong team performance as 12 Knights scored. Neumann (12-5, 10-1 Mid-Penn) completed a season sweep of Muncy (14-5, 7-4) and remained tied for first with Millville.

“I felt free,” Lynch said. “Injuries sometimes take a toll on your mental game, but I feel like I’m getting back into the swing of things and I’m starting to trust myself and my teammates are helping me, too.”

“He’s had no luck because of the injuries, so I’m really happy for him,” Neumann coach Mike Kirby said. ” He’s a warrior, he’s a great kid, he’s an intense worker and he deserves these kind of nights.”

Neumann has developed several weapons while winning 10 of its last 12 games and Lynch led the charge against Muncy. He drained four straight first-quarter 3-pointers, swishing each one and making them look as easy as layups. Lynch made 6 of 8 shots that first quarter as Neumann took a 22-15 lead. The versatile 3-year starting guard added five more points in the second quarter, matching his season-high of 21 points by halftime as the Knights went up 42-26.

When Muncy tried swarming Lynch, he became the facilitator and contributed four assists. He also pounded the boards and sparked a dangerous transition offense. Lynch attempted only one 3-pointer after the first quarter, doing his damage by attacking the basket and hitting pull-up jumpers.

The top scorer and most experienced player returning from last year’s state quarterfinalist, Lynch sometimes has put a lot of pressure on himself. Playing loose, though, has helped Lynch find his groove. He has played some great games the past four seasons while helping Neumann win three district championships, but Lynch might have delivered his best performance Saturday.

“He just wants it so much because he’s such a tough kid,” Kirby said. “He let the game come to him tonight and when he does that, good things happen and he had a great game.”

“Losing Kevin (Anderson) made me the leader of this team and I felt like I had to do everything, but obviously that’s not the case,” Lynch said. “I’m just letting the game come to me and I’m trusting my teammates and they’re improving. It’s a team game so I have to put the trust in them.”

That is easy these days because Neumann has come a long way since starting the season 2-3. The Knights had new players adjusting to new roles but have grown into those and can beat teams in a variety of ways. Noah Persun and Jaiden Cioffi have had some strong games inside, but Neumann put together its best shooting performance yesterday, connecting on 10 3-pointers. David Hill scored 14 points and Andrew Fish added eight, with those two combining for four 3-pointers.

Fish had eight second-quarter points and Hill had nine in the third quarter when Neumann went on a quarter-ending run that turned the game into a rout and put it up, 58-33. Dalton Gough efficiently ran the offense and had a game-high seven assists for a second straight game.

“We can hurt people inside and outside,” Lynch said. “Noah and Jaiden are a great inside post players. Dalton Gough is a great point guard leading everyone. Fish is a great shooter, David can score anyway he wants, Reid Parrish rebounds well … we have a lot of weapons. Teams have to worry about everything. There’s no taking one thing away.”

Muncy weathered Lynch’s early scoring barrage and used an 8-1 run to pull within 28-23 midway through the second quarter. Fish and Hill, however, responded with 3-pointers and Lynch hit a jumper. Seemingly, in the blink of an eye, Neumann was in command again and never let up.

Muncy hit four 3-pointers in those first 12 minutes but none after that. Nate Paisley scored 12 points, Kolby Moyer added 11 and Matt Coyner had eight points and eight rebounds.

“The first game we played they kind of rattled us early, but we stuck with them a little bit in the first half,” Muncy coach Jason Gresh said. “It was right there and they just pulled away. They’re extremely athletic and Lynch hit some huge shots.”

MUNCY (41)

Nate Paisley 5 0-0 12, Matt Coyner 3 2-7 8, Noah Rymsza 2 3-6 8, Kolby Moyer 4 1-2 11, Dylan Wilt 0 0-0 0, Jordan Yaple 1 0-0 2, Levi Messenger 0 0-2 0. Totals 15 6-17 41.

NEUMANN (78)

Jaiden Lynch 13 1-3 29, David Hill 5 2-4 14, Noah Persun 1 0-0 2, Jaiden Cioffi 1 1-2 3, Dalton Gough 2 0-0 4, Andrew Fish 3 0-0 8, Anthony Marrazzo 0 1-2 1, Reid Parrish 2 0-2 4, Malaki Parlante 0 3-4 3, Forman Stewart 1 0-0 3, Adam Helminiak 2 0-0 5, Josiah Reid 1 0-0 2. Totals 30 8-17 78.

Muncy 15 11 7 8–41

Neumann 22 20 16 20–78

3-pointers: Muncy 5 (Paisley 2, Moyer 2, Rymsza); Neumann 10 (Lynch 4, Hill 2, Fish 2, Stewart, Helminiak).

Records: Neumann 12-5, 10-1 Mid-Penn. Muncy 14-5, 7-4.

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