Bower, Reidy help deliver long-awaited championship

As the second half progressed Friday, Dylan Bower started hitting jump shots like they were layups. And as a long-elusive district championship inched closer, Tyler Reidy repeatedly grabbed rebounds while snuffing out Mifflinburg offensive opportunities.

Among Montoursville’s starting five, Bower and Reidy rank lowest in scoring average. They are as important any other player, but so often do the dirty work so that is so essential to winning but that does not show up in the boxscore. That did not change in Friday’s District 4 Class AAAA final either.

But this time, Bower and Reidy showed they also can take center stage. In a season that has been defined by different Montoursville players coming up big on different nights, Bower and Reidy played their best games and helped deliver Montoursville a championship 33 years in the making.

Bower scored a career-high 16 points, Reidy recorded a double-double and Montoursville defeated Mifflinburg, 46-32, winning its first district championship since 1985.

“I was pretty confident in my shot (Friday). Bower said. “They told me to keep shooting and that they would drop. We all played hard and that’s what got us the win.”

“It was really big for me because I hadn’t been producing a lot of points,” Reidy said. “It’s about the team and I came out and did it for everybody.”

Montoursville (19-6) plays Middletown in Friday’s state tournament opener and trailed Mifflinburg 19-13 at halftime. John McCarthy and Owen Kiess started the third quarter with 3-pointers that tied the game and then Bower started heating up. His jumper in the paint gave Montoursville a lead it never relinquished and he was just getting warmed up.

The junior forward scored six points both the third and fourth quarters, making 6 of 8 shots. He also helped Montoursville from being in big trouble at halftime, scoring six first-half points and finishing 8 for 12 from the field.

Reidy is one of Montoursville’s top defensive players and alters even more shots than he blocks. His interior presence was a big reason Mifflinburg scored just 13 second-half points. He also unloaded an unexpected offensive arsenal. The senior forward scored a season-high 10 points, displaying good post moves and touch around the basket. He also hit both ends of a 1-and-1 late, helping seal a championship in Montoursville’s first finals appearance since 1995. Reidy was a beast on the boards as well, especially in the fourth quarter as he kept grabbing rebounds that limited Mifflinburg to one-and-done possessions.

When it mattered most, Reidy was at his best.

“He played an outstanding game,” Montoursville coach Mike Mussina said. “He was hitting foul shots, he made turnaround jumpers and he hit the boards unbelievably well. You don’t think he’s going to be able to get off the floor that quick and get his hands on the ball, but he finds a way.”

THE CAPPER: Muncy coach Jason Gresh quietly has turned his program into a winner throughout this decade. Along the way, Muncy made three state tournament appearances and won a first-round game last year. Really, the only thing missing from an impressive resume was a district championship.

Muncy checked that box last Thursday.

Three players scored in double figures and Muncy played outstanding defense as it defeated Northeast Bradford, 52-39 to win the District 4 Class AA championship, the program’s first title since 2004.

“It’s great to see coach Gresh get his first medal,” forward Matt Coyner said after scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. “He’s taken us all the way up to get us here.”

Gresh took over a struggling program in 2010 that had won five games the previous season. He promptly led Muncy (17-7) back to the playoffs that first year and then to two straight state tournaments. The Indians consistently peak at the right time under Gresh and have done so the last two seasons, playing some of their best basketball in the district tournaments.

Muncy dethroned North Penn-Mansfield in the semifinals before leading Northeast Bradford from start to finish. This was a team that lost all-state guard Jeff Fry to graduation, but Gresh and his staff helped mold a versatile team in which four players average double figures into a champion. The way Muncy players and fans reacted when Gresh received his gold medal Thursday drove home what he means to the program.

“It was great,” point guard Nate Paisley said after scoring 18 points. “He’s worked with us from the start. He puts us under his wing from elementary on. He sees the talent he has at a young age and he really nurtures them all the way up.”

BACK AGAIN: North Penn-Mansfield (17-10) lost four starters and eight seniors from last year’s district champion. Many thought the program would take a big step back. Instead, the Tigers are back in states after winning a thrilling 43-41 third-place game against top-seeded Wyalusing. Dylan Meyer scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while hitting the game-winning shot with 40 seconds left as NP-Mansfield earned its third state tournament in four seasons.

Sure, the Tigers wanted the gold medal but just reaching states after all the talent that graduated last season is a solid achievement.

“Losing to Muncy was tough, but to be able to get in the state tournament is awesome,” Meyer said. “People think we’re a young team with juniors but we compete real hard every night and we can play.”

That was evident throughout the season. NP-Mansfield reached its fourth straight NTL Showcase championship and three of its four league losses came against District 4 Class AAA champion Wellsboro. The Tigers gave Wellsboro (26-1) one of its toughest games late in the year and went 2-1 in districts. With only one starter graduating, NP-Mansfield might just be getting started, too.

“We knew it was going to be tough losing eight seniors, but we also knew we had good players coming back,” coach Kipper Burleigh said after leading his team to its fifth state tournament this decade. “Every game we get is going to help develop our program and make us stronger next year. Now we get a chance to try to win another game Tuesday and that’s exciting. If we can win that, it would be another feather in our caps, another achievement.”

BACK AGAIN II: Speaking of teams that have come a long way, Sullivan County earned its sixth Class A state tournament appearance in eight seasons Thursday when it defeated Meadowbrook Christian, 45-28 in the district’s third-place game. One of the state’s smaller public schools, Sullivan has become one of the district’s premier Class A programs and will seek its fourth state tournament win this weekend when it plays Pottsville Nativity.

Jesse Williams scored a career-high 12 points in Thursday’s win and Sullivan has won 15 of its last 18 games despite losing three starters from last year’s team.

Player of the Week

Dalton Prough, Wellsboro

The senior guard scored 39 points in two playoff games last week, helping Wellsboro capture the District 4 Class AAA championship, the program’s first title since 1952. Prough was magnificent in Saturday’s 53-47 championship win against Loyalsock, scoring 27 points, reaching 1,000 for his career and scoring 14 in the fourth.

Dr. Masse’s Final Top 5

1. Wellsboro (26-1); 2. Montoursville (19-6); 3. Sullivan County (19-6); 4. Muncy (17-7); 5. North Penn-Mansfield (17-10)