Central Mountain boys basketball honors its seniors, falls to Loyalsock 87-68
BY SCOTT BAKER
For The Express
MILL HALL- Relentless.
That’s the word that first comes to my mind when recapping boys basketball action on the hardwood at Central Mountain High School last evening.
The Loyalsock Lancers were in Bald Eagle Township to take on the Wildcats who recognized seniors Matthew Storeman, Trevor Hanna, Issiah McCann, Addison Thomas and Tyler Adair prior to the game. Both teams entered the contest knowing that they are likely to face one another again next week in the first round of the Heartland Conference Championship Tournament.
Once the game started, the visitors used a quick 6-0 run to put their host in an early hole. At the five-minute mark of the first quarter, CM called a timeout as Loyalsock had sprinted to a 19-6 lead. Coming out of the timeout, the Wildcats turned up their defensive pressure that resulted in a 7-0 run of their own to close the gap to 19-13.
The teams played fairly evenly for the remainder of the quarter with Loyalsock up 24-19 at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter started with a bang for CM as they tied the score at 26-all just two minutes in when Storeman hit a nice pull-up three-point shot in transition from the left wing.
However, back came the Lancers with the first of their big runs on the night, a 12-0 burst to take a 38-26 lead with 2:59 to go in the half.
Coming out of a timeout, Loyalsock extended its run to 16 before CM finally converted a bucket with 1:15 to go in the half. Loyalsock had used a relentless attack from a talented group of guards to hold a 46-33 lead at the intermission.
Coming out of the break, Loyalsock continued its relentless offensive attack as they scored another 23 points in the third quarter to hold a 69-53 lead heading to the final frame.
As the game wore on it became evident that it was not offense that Central Mountain was lacking but rather the ability to stop the relentless attack of the Loyalsock guards who penetrated the interior of the CM defense on possession after possession.
Central Mountain was not bound to go down easy as a Jake Skrtich 3-pointer cut the Cats’ deficit to 75-63 with just over four minutes to play. However, a 12-5 Loyalsock run to close out the game led to an impressive 87-68 Lancer win.
Central Mountain was led in the contest by junior Collin Jones who had a huge offensive game with 26 points. Loyalsock countered with four players in double figures led by their quick and aggressive point guard Anthony Pastore with 22.
Wildcat head coach Tyler Bardo when asked about Loyalsock’s relentless guard play said, “We didn’t stop the ball. They attacked when they broke our press.” He did credit Loyalsock with playing a solid game but lamented, ” We turned the ball over too much.”
Central Mountain will be back in action tonight when they travel to Mifflinburg for a make-up contest.
Now as stated earlier, the Wildcats and Lancers will most likely face-off again next week in the first round of the PHAC tournament. Coach Bardo was asked about the psychological impact that last night’s game could have on his team when they face Loyalsock next week. Bardo didn’t seemed worried as he said, “We’re not going to look at this as a ‘we can’t beat them’ kind of thing.” Bardo believes his team will rebound from the loss and be just fine when it matters most next week.
Those who’ve followed the Wildcats this season can understand the coach’s confidence in his team as they’ve rebounded from numerous losses this season in fine fashion.
One thing is for sure, in less than a week we will know the answer. In the meantime, Bardo and his staff will surely be looking for ways to contain the relentless approach of the Loyalsock guards. With the loss, CM falls to 11-7 on the season. They will be the PHAC Division I representative next week as a result of their 8-2 division record. Loyalsock, now 15-5 on the season, is in the tournament as the wildcard as Danville captured Division II. Division III will be represented by Mount Carmel.
The best time of year is just about here… Championship hoops.