Third-quarter surge boosts Bulldogs in 69-56 win against Indians
By SHAREIK FLOWERS
SHAMOKIN- Jersey Shore surrendered a late-three as time expired in the second to fall into a 36-24 hole entering halftime. But once they entered locker room the message was clear– defense was going to lift the Bulldogs back into the game.
“In the first half I thought we really didn’t do a good job at all on the defensive end, and that’s all we talked about in the locker room at halftime,” Jersey Shore coach Scott Munro said. “We said ‘let’s get back to the basics and exactly what we talked about at practice and focused on all week.'”
The Bulldog squad heeded their coach’s advice and transformed into a stingy-defensive squad in the third. The unit surrendered just four points in the period, after allowing 24 points in the previous quarter, en route to a second-half beatdown and 69-56 win over the Shamokin Indians in the opening round of the District Playoffs.
“We were hungry and we wanted to win this game, and we weren’t trying to end [our season] here, “ Bulldog Nate Ewing said. “We wanted to at least get a couple more wins out of it and get what we can get.”
Ewing was a juggernaut on the offensive side of the ball and posted a game-high 29 points. He struggled early in the night and was limited to just two points in the opening period, but once he caught fire he ignited the squad and bamboozled the Shamokin defense.
“Nate’s obviously our leading scorer and does a really good job,” Munro said of Ewing. “Sometimes I have to get on him to be more aggressive, but when he’s aggressive it’s really tough to guard him. I thought after the first he did a super job of keeping us in the game when we were not defending well.
“And then in the second half he did a good job of continuing to attack and attack and get everything he wanted.”
Ewing’s dynamic-scoring ability warranted double teams on the floor, and he exploited Shamokin’s aggressiveness with excellent-ball movement to facilitate the offense. No player benefited more than Trevor Gee, who quietly had a dominant game with 20 points– with all 20 in the second half.
“He’s kind of the glue that keeps us together,” Munro said of Gee. “Everybody knows about Nate and what he can do, but Trevor’s very similar. He maybe has less of an outside shot, but Trevor runs the floor in transition really well and he defends really well. He’s kind of the guy who keeps it together on both ends for us and I thought he did a phenomenal job tonight for us.”
Gee’s second-half surge helped eradicate Jersey Shore’s deficit in game’s final 16 minutes– but when the team trailed in the second period Ewing was the one who sparked the group. He scored ten consecutive points in the period for the Bulldogs, and had it not been for his efficiency Shamokin may have ran away with the game by halftime.
“I was just confident out there,” Ewing said. “Coach just kept telling me to attack the rim and that’s what I tried to do tonight. I think we all stepped up as a team coming into it, and I’m just glad we got that win.”
Jersey Shore trailed by 12 entering the half but out-classed and embarrassed the Indians in the third as they outscored them 22-4 in the period. Jersey Shore exposed Shamokin’s transition defense and routinely found the open man on the floor as the offense exploded in the quarter. Ewing connected with Gee in the paint for an uncontested score to slash Jersey Shore’s deficit, 40-39, and the Bulldogs soon took its first lead of the game after Ewing hit a pair of free throws with 2:47 left in the third.
“Our coach got us fired up in the locker room as soon as we came in,” Ewing said of the team’s third-quarter ascension. “He started yelling at us and was like ‘you guys really wanna go home now,’ and we all said no. We were ready and prepared for the second half and of course we went on a 22-4 run in the third quarter. I think that there’s when we got fired up and we really turned it on there.”
Jersey Shore’s performance sucked the life out of the Indians who failed to recover in the game. They couldn’t buy a bucket, were dominated on the glass and perplexed by Jersey Shore’s consistent-ball distribution and speed on the transition.
“We love to run in transition,” Munro said. “We wanted to play at our pace in the second half and defend really well, and I thought we got a ton of easy run-outs just by pitching the ball up-court. We had our guards running wide and just attacked the rim. “
Jersey Shore ended the game with a 19-16 edge in the fourth quarter as they forced turnovers on defense and hit crucial shots in the fourth. Tanner Lorson hit a few clutch free throws while Ewing and Gee produced the lion’s share of the scoring in the fourth as the Bulldogs advanced in the postseason with 69-56 win over Shamokin.
The Bulldogs dropped its two previous contests against Shamokin this season– but in the only matchup that mattered Jersey Shore brought its A-game and had one if its finest performances of the season. With an upcoming contest versus Danville next week– coach Munro anticipates this win could trigger Jersey Shore moving forward.
“It’s at a neutral-site and I like our chances against them,” Munro said of the semi-final contest. “I think we can play with anybody.”