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CM caps off comeback finish over Selinsgrove, 48-46

MILL HALL- Central Mountain’s fourth-quarter magic in a 48-46 win against Selinsgrove may have been the spark it needed to turn its season around.

Central Mountain entered the final stanza trailing just 35-31, but with a lineup decimated by three key injuries. Aidan Major has yet to return from a leg injury, starter Cayde McCloskey suffered game-ending injury Wednesday versus Danville and Nick Miller exited halfway through the third period with an apparent knee injury. Boasting a roster of just six typical varsity players for the final eight minutes — CM needed somebody to step up and a trio of athletes decided to heed the call.

After Selinsgrove extended its lead 43-40, Zane Probst responded with a mid-range jumper to pull CM with one of tying. Then with 30 seconds remaining, Evan Baker recorded the play of the game when he drilled a three pointer to hand Central Mountain its first lead of the night, 45-43.

“Evan came off the screen and it’s a shot we work on all the time,” coach Tyler Bardo said of Baker’s momentum-swinging score. “He’s real comfortable with it, and he drilled it for the first lead of the game.”

Conner Soo promptly recorded a steal on Selinsgrove’s ensuing possession and raced down for the easy layup, igniting the Central Mountain bench and fans to extend Central Mountain’s edge, 47-43, with thirty seconds remaining following the 7-0 run.

“We talked about trying to get aggressive and get up in passing lanes, and Conner did a great job of finishing the deal there,” Bardo said.

Soo finished the evening with a team-high 21 points in a winning effort. His offensive presence boosted Central Mountain and he had one of his best performances of the season.

“We know this is what Conner is capable of,” Bardo said. “With obviously the other guys down right now, he’s got to continue to step up in those situations. But what I really liked was that he really started to get downhill and he was cutting off the ball.”

Soo’s score seemed like the dagger in the game, but a late conversion by the Seals nearly spoiled Central Mountain’s comeback. On Selinsgrove’s next possession, Ivan DeJesus knocked down his fourth three of the night to slash CM’s lead, 47-46. An intentional foul that sent Probst to the line where he converted one, which was crucial for CM as the Wildcats entered the night shooting just 59% from the foul line. The point stretched CM’s lead to two and the win was secured after Selinsgrove’s last shot of the game was an uncontested three pointer by DeJesus that rimmed in and out at the buzzer.

“That thing was all but in,” Bardo said. “(Our) guys deserved it, but they had to earn it. So I’m happy that it went the way that it went.”

Central Mountain’s fourth-quarter intensity highlighted the night. They outscored Selinsgrove 17-11 in the period, and were aided by Soo’s and Probst’s quarter-high six points each. Probst finished the game 10 points and some key blocks on the defensive side.

“Offensively, he just continued to do what he was doing all year,” Bardo said of Probst.

The win ended a six-game skid for the Wildcats and was their first victory since a 61-54 win against Mifflinburg back on Dec. 19.

“They’re enjoying it,” Bardo said of his team’s excitement with a smile. “Tonight was good basketball because it was a win, and we won while down three guys, and we didn’t have a single lead until the fourth quarter.”

Central Mountain (3-8) returns Saturday with a home contest versus Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference (PHAC) top-dog Shamokin.

Central Mountain 48, Selinsgrove 47

Central Mountain (48)

Conner Soo 6 3-4 21, Ujjval Ardoja 2 1-2 5, Nick Long 3 0-0 6, Zane Probst 3 4-6 10, Evan Baker 1 1-3 6.

Selinsgrove (47)

Brett Foor 2 2-2 6, Ben Heim 4 0-0 8, Ethan Harris 2 0-2 4, Ryan Reich 1 0-0 2, Dylan DeFazio 1 2-3 4, Randy Richler 2 0-0 4, Ivan DeJesus 3 0-018.

Central Mountain 8 14 9 17–48

Selinsgrove 12 14 9 11–47

3-Point Shots: Central Mountian 3 (Soo 2, Baker), Selinsgrove 4 (DeJesus).

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