Ligonier Valley boys looking at a test of character
The Ligonier Valley High School boys basketball team played two home conference games last week. In an attempt to avenge and earlier loss, the Rams fell in a close-fought battle to Marion Center, 49-47. Ligonier then broke a three-conference-game losing streak with a 63-32 victory over Penns Manor.
“At this point we're zero and zero,” coach John Berger said. “We're not going to win the Heritage, but we are still going to have one of the biggest teams in the district and we move forward, that's all we can do. It's a test of our character at this point.”
Jordan Jones led the scoring for Ligonier with 16 points, followed by Zack Yeskey with 12, Patrick Waugh and Micah Tennant, who each scored five, Alec Bloom with four, Justin Hugo with a 3-pointer and Max Jablounsky scored two points.
At the half Ligonier led 29-24, but Marion Center's tightly packed zone defense kept the Rams to the perimeter which limited opportunities for the forwards to get make easy layups.
The Rams also got into foul trouble in the Marion Center game committing 10 in the first half and 18 overall. Many of the fouls were committed while trying to block shots, which gave the Stingers free points at the foul line.
“Sometimes I think we get punished for being a big team,” Berger said. “I see my guys get hit pretty hard and I don't see things being called. Then we breathe on them... I saw that tonight. That's not why we lost, but it changes things up when Bloom and Tennant go to the bench with four fouls.”
Against Penns Manor, Jones and Yeskey led scoring with 18 points each. Bloom scored eight, Fennell seven, Waugh and Jablounsky four each and Luke Smetak and Kyle Lundquist came off the bench to score two points.
Berger said he did not like the intensity and the way the team was rebounding in the first half. Though leading at halftime, Berger said he gave his team a wake up call at the half.
“We came out flat and we can't let that happen on a three-game losing streak, ” Berger said. The Rams came out more energetic in the second half. Invigorated by the coach's halftime talk, they held Penns Manor to just two points in the third quarter. Ahead by more than 20 points, Berger was able to sit all of his starters in the fourth.
“I just feel good that we got a win. We needed to play well and we did,” Berger said.
The team will play host Feb. 7 to United and again to Penns Manor on Monday.
Peter Turcik is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.