Cioffi helps lift Knights to a win
Jaiden Cioffi never has cared about how many points he scores. He is content being an excellent rebounder, defender, passer and leader.
But Cioffi can be an offensive weapon. Whatever it takes to produce victories, the St. John Neumann forward will do. And that meant taking center stage offensively Tuesday night at the Catholic Community Center.
Cioffi unleashed his entire arsenal, scoring a career-high 17 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dealing five assists as Neumann fought off Muncy and pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 65-46 win. The senior captain scored 12 first-half points as Neumann built a 10-point halftime lead and consistently found teammates for high-percentage shots in the fourth quarter when Neumann broke open a close game and ended it on a 21-8 run.
“It definitely raised my confidence because I really wasn’t used to shooting a lot,” Cioffi said. “If I happened to score it was to help the team. I’d rather win than stuff the stat sheet. Winning is all that matters to me.”
Cioffi has helped Neumann (6-3, 5-0 Mid-Penn) do that a lot the last four years. The three-year starter and four-year contributor has been a valuable part of two district championship and three league championship teams. He showed why last night, doing a bit of everything, and repeatedly delivering key plays at the perfect times. Muncy (5-4, 3-2) cut a 16-point third-quarter deficit to four late that quarter, but Cioffi had a hand in seven quick points opening the fourth and Neumann scored the first 10 points, going back up by 16. He also scored the first-half’s last four points after Muncy had cut a nine-point deficit to four.
The senior forward scored inside, hit some jumpers and consistently found the open man. He defended well and served as a calming influence when things grew tough. This basically was a snapshot of Cioffi’s scholastic career.
“He’s starting to consistently put together great games. Stuffing the stat sheet is becoming a regular occurrence. That is who he is,” Neumann coach Mike Kirby said. “He’s athletic, intelligent, has a good feel for the game, keeps composure … It’s a lot of good stuff. No one outworks him and nobody wants to do better.”
Cioffi led a balanced performance as Neumann led from start to finish and answered Muncy rallies with runs of its own. Muncy played a box-and-one against David Hill, the area’s leading scorer, but he still managed 14 points and 10 rebounds. Malaki Parlante scored six of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, Reid Parrish made four steals and Rivers Parrish added four assists. Keon Burkholder scored six fourth-quarter points and fellow reserves Forman Stewart, Josiah Reid and Jakob Bower provided valuable minutes as Neumann won its second straight and showed that several players can produce big games.
Muncy used a 13-1 run late in the third quarter to make it a four-point game, but Neumann regrouped, slowed down and efficiently ran its fourth-quarter offense. The Knights sometimes go too fast for their own good, but revealed how dangerous they can be when they are patient, making 10 of 15 fourth-quarter shots, most of them coming in the paint.
“We were rushed on offense and were taking the first shot on anything and not always hitting them,” Cioffi said. “Like Coach Kirby said, work the offense out, get more ball movement, pass and cut and the short, easy shots will be wide open and that’s what we got in the fourth quarter.”
Neumann seemed poised to deliver early knockout blows throughout the first half, but Muncy kept fighting off the ropes. The Indians had some athletes playing sick, but it did not show as they were a few missed layups from tying the game early in the fourth quarter. Neumann finally put together the finishing combination in that fourth quarter and Muncy fell behind by 16 three minutes into it.
Muncy wanted the victory, but also left the gym feeling good about itself. The defending District 4 Class AA champions played the Mid-Penn leader tough and take some momentum into their next game at Sullivan County.
“We really battled and really gave them a scare, at least for three quarters. I think we finally ran out of steam,” Muncy coach Jason Gresh said. “We expended a lot of energy in the third quarter and had some untimely misses and that happens. If we make a few of those, that ties the game and that changes everything.”
Kyle Lenhart played outstanding defense for Muncy and Noah Rymsza scored a game-high 20 points, doing so in a variety of ways. Kolby Moyer has been battling illness, but scored 10 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
Muncy forward Dylan Wilt keeps elevating his performance and recorded a second-straight double-double. Wilt has been an excellent rebounder and defender the past two seasons, but his offensive skills are much improved and he is an all-around weapon now. The all-state wide receiver scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds last night, using an assortment of post moves to do damage and help fuel Muncy’s comeback.
“He just needed some confidence. We know what he is,” Gresh said. “We know he’s an athlete and he’s worked hard to develop it. He played basketball all summer long and that helped him in football, too. He finally is starting to get the confidence on the offensive end and that is what we needed. That is a step in the right direction.”
Neumann 65, Muncy 46
Noah Rymsza 6 5-6 20, Kolby Moyer 4 0-0 10, Dylan Wilt 8 0-1 16, Kyle Lenhart 0 0-0 0, Max Rymsza 0 0-0 0, Connor Sassano 0 0-0 0, Tanner Gold 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 5-7 46.
David Hill 6 2-2 14, Reid Parrish 4 0-0 8, Jaiden Cioffi 8 1-2 17, Malaki Parlante 5 1-1 11, Rivers Parrish 1 3-4 5, Forman Stewart 0 0-0 0, Jakob Bower 1 0-0 2, Josiah Reid 1 0-0 2, Keon Burkholder 3 0-0 6. Totals 29 7-9 65.
Muncy 9 12 17 8–46
Neumann 14 17 13 21–65
3-point goals: Muncy 3 (Moyer 2, Rymsza 1).
Records: Neumann (6-3, 5-0), Muncy (5-4, 3-2).