Loyalsock rallies to down Wellsboro
MANSFIELD - In the first half, Wellsboro matched Loyalsock shot for shot, keeping up in a high-flying matchup with the defending District 4, Class AA champions.
Wellsboro led 15-4 early and was up 26-17 late in the half, before Loyalsock closed to within 28-23 at the half.
In the second half the Green Hornets ran out of steam and the Lancers pulled away for their second-straight district title, outscoring Wellsboro 34-9 in the second half in a 57-37 win.
"I think for the first time all season we got tired," Wellsboro coach Todd Outman said. "We lost our legs and the shots stopped falling. We just didn't execute and unfortunately it seemed like the bounce was going against us in the second half where in the first half it was all going our way."
In the first half it was all Wellsboro early.
After Loyalsock scored in the opening seconds, Jordan Jackson tied the game.
Loyalsock's Omar Little made it 4-2 Loyalsock, but that was the last time the Lancers would lead until midway through the second quarter.
Kieron Smethers made it 4-4 and Dylan Prough made it 6-4, before Matt Reese gave Wellsboro a four-point lead.
Reese hit a free throw to make it 9-4 and then Mike Pietropola came off the bench to hit back-to-back threes to make it 15-4 Wellsboro.
"Wellsboro is a great ball team and they beat us in every aspect in the first half," Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. "We tend to wear teams down in the second half, and that's our game plan."
Little said the Lancers players knew they had to keep their composure down early.
"That's part of our way of doing things," Little said of wearing teams down. "We had to keep up the pressure and keep up our energy."
Down double figures, Loyalsock started to fight back as Ryan Bogaczyk scored back-to-back baskets to make it 15-8 after one quarter.
Little scored and then Kyle Datres hit a three to make it 15-13 in favor of Wellsboro.
Reese scored to make it 17-13, but Roger Wilson scored for Loyalsock to make it 17-15.
Prough made it 19-15 and Jackson made it 21-15, before Jim Webb scored for Loyalsock to cut the deficit to 21-17.
Joey Doganiero scored and then he hit a three and Wellsboro built the lead to 26-17 before Loyalsock got it to within five at the half.
In the third Loyalsock scored the first seven points to go up 30-28 and they never would relinquish the lead.
After Jackson hit a free throw to make it 30-29, Datres hit a pair of threes and the Lancers pulled away.
"They put probably better ball pressure on us than we have seen all year," Outman said. "It's a credit to them they are a great basketball team and they took our ability to run our offense away from us."
In the opening minutes of the game Wilson, the Lancers 6-foot, 5-inch star drew two fouls, but after that he didn't draw another foul the rest of the game.
"Play smart is the key word there," Insinger said. "He picked up two dumb ones early, but then he played smart and didn't pick up any others."
With Wilson in the early foul trouble Little had a dominant day to lead the Lancers, with the sophomore scoring 17 with four boards and three steals.
"Omar keeps getting better and better," Insinger said.
"We played smart and used our heads," Little said of the play after Wilson's second foul.
Matched up with Wellsboro's senior guards Jackson and Reese, Little had a strong performance for the Lancers.
"It was a good experience, I want to congratulate their points guards, they did a heck of a job," Little said of the Wellsboro pair.
Outman knows how much Jackson and Reese have meant to his team.
"Jordan and Matt have meant a lot to us for three years, but we are still a young team and we will work in the summer and hopefully be back here next year."
Smethers led Wellsboro with eight and Jackson had seven, while Pietropola and Prough each had six.
Doganiero and Reese had five each in the game.
Reese, Jackson and Prough each had seven boards and Smethers had six.
Smethers had six blocks and Jackson had four steals, Doganiero had three and Reese and Prough each had two.
Little led Loyalsock with 17, Datres had 13 and Wilson had 11.
Wilson had a double-double with 10 boards and Datres had six boards, while Wilson had six blocks and Datres had four.
Wellsboro plays the District 11 champion either Friday or Saturday at a time and place to be determined in the opening round of PIAA play.