Ligonier Rams win 2, lose 2
In a four-game series that included three conference match-ups, the Ligonier Valley High School boys' basketball team defeated United and Saltsburg, returning the favor of a previous loss, but lost to Blairsville and non-conference opponent Jeannette. These results bring the Rams' season record to 8-13.
Traveling into the Lions' den, Ligonier had no problem sweeping the season series 59-47. The Rams took a 31-15 lead into half time and stayed ahead, despite 32 United points in the second half. Collin Smith led the Rams in scoring, putting up 27 points on the night and grabbing eight rebounds. Jordan Jones scored 16 points, Alex Tutino six, Scott Fennell hit a basket and a free throw, blocked three shots and made four steals. Jake Nemeth, Justin Hugo and Calin Gropp each scored two points and Billy Turley hit a free throw.
Ligonier made a strong start over Jeannette, outscoring the Jayhawks 13-7 in the first quarter and taking a 23-20 lead into halftime. The Jayhawks came back from halftime fired up and ready, scoring 24 points in the third to take the lead. Jeannette then put up 13 in the fourth quarter and held Ligonier to 13 points in the entire second half to win 61-36. Smith and Jones shared the scoring lead in the game, each scoring 12 points. Nemeth put up eight points and Fennell scored five.
An overtime 51-49 victory over Saltsburg was a consolation after the last-second loss knocked the Rams out of the District Six playoffs. Ligonier's 20-point rally in the second period tied the game 29-29 going into halftime. At the end of four quarters, the score was again even at 47. Defense was the name of the game in overtime with only six total points going up on the board. In the end the Rams came away with the victory.
Jones' game-high 20 points was the biggest contributor to the Rams win. Fennell followed registering a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Hugo hit three shots from behind the arc, Smith scored eight and Nemeth contributed two.
In the final game of the stretch, Ligonier kept pace with Blairsville through one quarter, but fell behind when the Bobcats put up 21 in the second to take a 32-21 lead into the half. This lead increased after three, when the Rams could only put up seven points to Blairsville's 25. At the end of four, Blairsville left the valley with a 72-45 win.
Jones led scoring for the Rams with 19 points. Fennell put up 10; Smith scored eight and also grabbed eight rebounds. Tutino hit a 3-pointer and a basket for five and Hugo sank a shot for three.
Peter Turcik is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.