SHAMOKIN - Steve DeLong and the rest of the Milton boys basketball team entered Saturday's District 4 Class AAA final expecting a big performance from Travis Krall.
Consider DeLong and the rest of the team's expectations met as Krall finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds as No. 4 Milton defeated No. 3 Shikellamy, 58-45, at Shamokin High School.
"Travis (Krall) was going to be our advantage all night," DeLong said. "He was going to have to be the difference tonight. It was something I felt I didn't really take advantage of in the last matchup. I wasn't going to make that mistake this time."
Krall helped Milton (16-8) open on a 10-0 run, scoring six points and grabbing two rebounds over the stretch. He also keyed a 12-0 run in the opening minutes of the second half after Kyle Leitzel tied the score at 36 with a 3-pointer.
"Coming into the game we knew we had an advantage on them," Krall said. "I knew I had to kind of take over and have a big game. And that's what I did."
The other benefit of Krall's effort was getting Shikellamy (14-11) players into foul trouble as they battled underneath the basket. Both Ernie Tyler (seven points and two rebounds) and Zach Herbster were called for their fourth fouls in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
"It always helps," DeLong said of Shikellamy's foul trouble. "It was a big advantage."
The fouls forced Shikellamy, which had to start fouling with more than two minutes left in the final quarter, to sub in order to avoid losing its top scorer. And Tyler's frustrations were apparent when he picked up his fourth foul for pushing a Milton player near the basket. Moments later, Herbster was tagged for his fourth.
"I was a big advantage, because it put us on the line at the end of the game," Krall said. "We got some easy buckets, and that really helped us out."
The points certainly appeared to come easily, as Michael Jacobs buried nine of his 10 attempts to close out the game.
"It just gave us so much confidence," Jacobs said. "Any one of us on the court could have made those free throws. And knowing they had to foul, we knew we had those points."
"He's an 85 percent foul shooter, and has been for the last two years," DeLong said. "I have the ultimate confidence when he's on the line. That's who we were trying to get the ball to at the end of the game."
Jacobs, who finished with 17 points, connected on a 3-pointer at the start of the second half to give Milton a 25-15 lead.
The lead wouldn't hold, though, as CJ Tyler and Derek Amerman tallied nine and eight points, respectively, in the quarter. At 2:32, Tyler forced a Milton timeout after his 3-pointer got the Braves within 32-28.
Once in the fourth quarter, though, the early fouls and third quarter outburst proved to be the difference as Jacobs made his final four attempts to give Milton the District 4 Class AAA title.
"I had them," Jacobs said. "I knew I had them."
Austin Mowery 2 0-0 5; Ernie Tyler 1 4-5 7; CJ Tyler 5 4-4 15; Jon Stetler 0 0-2 0; Josh Chaney 0 2-2 2; Edwin Rivera 0 0-0 0; Zach Herbster 0 2-2 2; Kyle Leitzel 1 0-1 3; Derek Amerman 1 0-1 3; Justin Engel 0 0-0 0; Ryan Kennedy 1 0-0 2; Jake Hare 0 1-2 1. Total 13 13-18 45.
Logan Feltman 1 1-2 3; Ethan Baker 0 1-4 1; Tyrel Kling 2 2-2 6; Michael Jacobs 3 9-10 17; Brandon Rogers 2 2-2 6; Wade Heidel 1 0-0 2; Chad Diggin 2 0-2 5; Travis Krall 9 0-0 18. Total 20 15-22 18.
Shikellamy 2 13 18 12-45
Milton 12 10 14 22-58
3-point goal: Shikellamy-6 (Mowery, Ernie Tyler, Leitzel, Amerman 2, CJ Tyler). Milton-3 (Jacobs 2, Diggan)
Records: Shikellamy (14-11). Milton (16-8).