Kittanning's Henry leads East boys to win in Cager Classic
The Cager Classic committee might have to send the East team a long-distance bill.
Repelling numerous comeback attempts by its West counterparts, the East dialed it up from 3-point range to regain control in the all-time series of the Alle-Kiski Valley's all-star classic.
The East fired in 11 3-pointers to down the West, 93-83, in the 17th annual Cager Classic before a sell-out crowd Saturday night at Highlands.
The East now leads the series, 9-8.
Kittanning's Sterling Henry, who picked up two wins in Friday night's skills competition, scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to take MVP honors for the East.
“We talked about defense at practice the other night,” said Henry, who scored 13 in the second half when the pace of the game picked up. “We knew we had shooters and knew we could be a good team. Coach (Mike Nagy of West Shamokin) wanted us to shoot the ball.”
Henry averaged 18.9 points per game this season and scored 1,084 career points.
Another 1,000-point scorer, Anthony Rocco, the first boys player from West Shamokin to take part in the Cager Classic, hit four 3s and matched teammate Nick Stone (Kiski Area) with 14 points.
Dave Lattanzio of Ford City and Valley's Devin Whitman also scored in double figures for the East with 10 apiece.
The East led wire to wire, opening the game with a 17-2 run and repeatedly pushing the margin back to double digits when the West got close.
West MVP Brendan Lynch (Freeport) scored a game-high 22 points, 14 in the first half, and did his best to keep the West from getting blown out.
Matt Getsy (Mars) added 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds for the West.
“This game was a blast,” said Lynch, a three-sport athlete who had a career season in basketball. “It was one of the most fun basketball weekends I have ever had.We figured it would be fast-paced and there'd be a lot of scoring.”
West 6-foot-8 center Josh Goetz (Mars) converted an alley-oop, and Lynch hit a 3 to get the West within 33-28 with about seven minutes to play in the first half.
Baskets by Lynch and Westminster recruit John Arcuri (St. Joseph) cut the margin to four, but the East got back-to-back hoops from Whitman and a dribble-drive score by Lattanzio to take a 44-36 lead into the half.
The West cut it to seven four times in the second half, but the East held its ground.
Threes by Whitman and Lattanzio and a runner by Griffin Myers (Plum) gave the East a 57-44 lead with 16 minutes to go.
Tim Jaczesko (Deer Lakes) made a trio of 3s for the West, the last to make it 69-60. Getsy's 3 and dunk got the West within 85-78, but Rocco hit two threes in less than a minute, and Henry added a jumper to push the advantage to 93-78 with a little more than a minute to go.
“We came out hot, and that was big,” Stone said. “We figured there'd be a lot of running.”
The West made 9 3s. All 12 players scored for the East.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.