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Ligonier Valley boys slow out of the gate

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Bill Pribisco | for the Ligonier Echo
Ligonier Valley High School boys basketball team Head Coach Todd Hepner (center) rallies the team late in the game. Taken 12/11/2013 at the Ligonier High School
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By Peter Turcik
Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The Ligonier Valley boys basketball team has gotten off to a slow start, losing the first three games of the 2013-14 season. The Rams opened the season by traveling to Somerset for the Pine Grill Tournament where they fell to South Garret 75-46 and Shanksville High School 60-48. Ligonier Valley's first home game was a Heritage Conference showdown with Homer Center, which ended 51-37 in favor of Homer Center.

Constant pressure from Wildcats caused panic in the Rams offense, disrupting the flow of play and forcing turnovers for easy points. The Wildcats zone defense proved difficult for Ligonier's new mobile style, clogging up the middle of the court and keeping the Rams to the perimeter.

By halftime Homer Center led 26-11, giving up only four points to Ligonier in the second quarter. Ligonier coach Todd Hepner attributed this low score to the Rams inability to box out down low and grab rebounds, both on offense and defense.

“We weren't in great position a lot of times. There were times where we failed to block out on boards, offensively and defensively and when you are doing that kind of stuff in the game you are just watching the game, you're not really playing the game,” Hepner noted. “I am trying to teach them that they have got to get into someone each time. That's just something we are going to have to keep working on in practice until it's instilled in their heads. Those are the small things that win games and unfortunately lose games too.”

After three games Jordan Jones has been the leading scorer for Ligonier, totaling 49 points so far. As one of the most experienced returning starters, Hepner said Jones has worked very hard for the team without a break.

“Jordan is a guy that we want to touch the ball a lot during a game. We ask him to do a lot, not just offensively on the boards and inside, but in the press, he gives it his all out there,” Hepner commented.

Jones led scoring for Ligonier with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Scott Fennell made eight points. Jake Nemeth had six, Justin Hugo and Alex Tutino scored three each and Collin Smith snagged two points.

In the game against South Garrett, Jones again led the Rams in scoring, putting up 13 points. Smith followed closely with 11, Tutino made eight, Hugo and Nemeth earned five, Fennell two and Luke Smetak shot a free throw.

With his highest scoring game of the season so far, Jones posted 21 points against Shanksville. Smith put up 13, Hugo scored five, Nemeth had four and Nate Mattis listed three.

The Ligonier Rams traveled Tuesday to Northern Cambria for a game against the Colts and played host Wednesday to Marion Center. The Rams will play host Dec. 27 for the Ligonier Valley Holiday Tournament at the high school gym.

Peter Turcik is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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