NAILBITER: Central Mountain loses tight game to Shikellamy High School, 70-65
MILL HALL — Standing atop of the Heartland Conference, the Central Mountain boy’s basketball team could control their own destiny with a win against the very aggressive Shikellamy team.
But with a loss, the road to the title for the Wildcats would be a little tougher.
The Braves, who already defeated Central Mountain in a nail biter earlier in the year, were ready to take the season sweep Saturday at the Wildcats’ gym.
Despite being on the road in a revved up Mill Hall, Shikellamy got out to an early lead and through the rollercoaster of emotions, lead changes and big plays, it was able to hold on down the stretch winning 70-65.
“It was the game we had tonight, so it was the biggest game of the season. It’s a big game because it’s a Heartland game and it’s a conference game that we were in control of. We were in control of the conference coming into the game,” said Central Mountain head coach Tyler Bardo. “We let it get away. Credit to Shikellamy, they battled throughout, but I credit my guys too. They went though a lot of stuff tonight and kept themselves away to still be there at the end.”
Leading scorers for the Wildcats were Issiah McCann with 16 points, while teammate Trevor Hanna chipped in a 13-point effort.
Rounding out the scoring for Central Mountain was Collin Jones with 12.
The Braves’ Lucas Tilford was relentless at attacking the basket, finishing with a game high 26 points.
Austyn Bilger complimented Tilford’s effort with a 13-point tally.
Inside force, Darell Lyles, found himself in foul trouble for much of the game, and finished with 10 points.
After three quarters of back and forth action, Shikellamy held a one point 47-46 advantage going into the final stanza.
Hunter Dodge started the quarter off for the Braves as he hit 2-of-2 from the line after being fouled while going in for a shot.
Shikellamy was back at it minutes later after the Wildcats missed two free throws. Lyles put his team up 51-46 with a strong attack of the hoop.
Central Mountain got its first of the quarter at the six-minute mark when Collin Jones scores on a shot in traffic underneath at the 6-minute mark.
The period felt like a sprint to the finish line as both teams continued their scoring attempts with the game on the line.
Tilford extended the Braves lead back to five when he his a short range jumper with just under six minutes left.
The Wildcats answered immediately when Jake Skrtich hit a leaner in the lane.
Like two fighters in a title match, the Braves swung the next blow as Tate Krankuskie hit a shot in the lane.
But the Wildcats would get three points closer on its next possession as the offense worked the balk around to find an open Tyler Adair from beyond the 3-point line as he sent it home, cutting it to just a 55-53 lead. The shot also caused the Braves to call a timeout.
Shikellamy reacted strongly to the break and scored on consecutive trips down court, upping their lead to 59-53.
Despite being in foul trouble, McCann hit a strong bucket inside to cut the scoring run by the Braves temporarily.
Shikellamy responded by hitting one-of-two from the charity stripe before giving the ball back to the Wildcats.
Central Mountain went back inside to Jones and he did not disappoint, making it a three-point game.
Back came Shikellamy with another bucket of its own.
Austyn Bilger put his team back up by five when he pulled down an offensive board and put it in.
With success inside, the Wildcats went back to Jones once again as he was fouled when he made the bucket.
However, the free throw was off.
But the Wildcats were able to get the ball back via a turnover and they went down the court hoping to dig into the Braves lead.
Adair got the call to shoot the triple and hit nothing but net, tying the game at 62.
Shikellamy again called a crucial time out and it paid off once the huddle broke to start things up again.
The Braves got the ball to Hunter Dodge and he quieted the Home crowd with a triple of his own.
Just as things looked bad for the Wildcats, things got worse when Shikellamy forced a turnover with less than a minute remaining.
Tilford secures the advantage as he hit 2-of-2 from the line, making it 67-62 with 26 ticks left.
Central Mountain’s Trevor Hannah gave his team some home, bringing the game to within three with a triple with 11 seconds left.
However, the Braves were able hold onto the lead as the buzzer sounded, 70-65.
In the first quarter, Shikellamy got off to a close lead and continued it into the beginning of the second half leading after the first quarter, 17-11.
Both teams continued to each other into the second half, Shikellamy went into the half leading by a slim 34-33 advantage.
Central Mountain is back in action Monday as it hosts Altoona.