West Shamokin holds off Ford City
During a Section 1-AA boys basketball game in which no lead appeared to be safe, West Shamokin's student section began to chant, “Start the bus!” with about 35 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Ford City almost made the Wolves' fans look mighty foolish.
Despite missing seven fourth-quarter free throws, West Shamokin hung on to win the section opener, 64-62, at home after it led by nine points with less than two minutes remaining.
The Wolves (2-2, 1-0) actually trailed Ford City (2-3, 0-1) by a double-digit margin in the first quarter and failed to get a field goal until more than five minutes, 30 seconds elapsed, but they stormed back and ultimately led for the entire second half.
“For every good play we make, we make two bad plays,” West Shamokin coach Mike Nagy said. “We're giving the ball up too easily. We're not playing strong. I thought Ford City did a great job; they jumped on us…fortunately, we didn't panic.”
Ford City opened the game with a 10-0 run. Jesse Sequeira fueled the charge with a transition basket, a layup in the right lane and a 3-pointer.
West Shamokin switched from its man-to-man defense to a zone, an adjustment that stifled the Sabers' speed and contributed to eight first-quarter turnovers for Ford City. Damon Craig made two free throws with 2:50 left in the first quarter to end the shutout, and Zane Clowser's jumper followed 24 seconds later.
By the end of the quarter, the Wolves led, 14-10, with Zac Horner's desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer serving as an exclamation point.
Clowser and Horner continued to pace West Shamokin's offense. Both attacked the driving lanes and drew fouls. Clowser, who also made four 3-pointers, finished with a team-high 23 points for the Wolves, who led, 31-28, at halftime and, 48-44, after three quarters. Horner added 10 points.
“I just get the ball and see what I can do most effectively,” Clowser said. “If I can dish it off and get a better shot for someone else, I'll do that.”
Ford City's David Lattanzio provided fourth-quarter heroics that kept spectators intrigued. After scoring 11 points in the first half, he added 16 in the second — 10 coming in the final quarter. He sank one of his three 3-pointers to begin the Sabers' climb back from the nine-point deficit, and he made his final four free throws to finish 11 of 13 at the line.
“That's his job,” Ford City coach Greg Hutcherson said. “Just like (Jon) Shanty last year, his job is to lead us and be a scorer and take over games. Dave knows that, he answered and he did what he's supposed to do.”
Sequeira, who cooled considerably after the hot start, returned to the spotlight with 15.8 seconds left when he made a layup in the left lane, drew a foul and made the free throw to cut Ford City's deficit to two points. He finished with 13 points.
Somewhat surprisingly, Andrew Labutka, a starting senior guard with no points, took the game's final shot. His 3-point attempt from the left side just missed, hitting the back of the rim and floating high and a bit wide.
“When you're down whatever it was in the fourth quarter, and you storm back and have a shot to win it at the end, and it rattles in and out, you can't get mad at that,” Hutcherson said. “It was just that some balls bounced their way that we wanted.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-543-1303.