West Shamokin boys control tempo, claim Section 1-AA win
Tempo made all the difference between West Shamokin and Ford City.
The Wolves dictated a slower pace of play long enough to build an 11-point lead, and they held on against late full-court pressure by the Sabers to get a 41-38 Section 1-AA win Friday night at West Shamokin.
Zane Clowser and Jake Hough each had a game-high 14 points, and Hough also had nine rebounds for the Wolves (9-1, 1-1).
Brandon Heilman had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Jon Karabin scored 10 for Ford City (4-7, 1-1).
Despite trailing since midway through the first quarter, Ford City had a chance to force overtime with 11.7 seconds remaining in the game.
Jesse Sequiera drove into the lane for the Sabers, but his kick-out pass was tipped by the Wolves. Karabin reached for the ball near the sideline, but it hit off his hand and went out of bounds to West Shamokin, which inbounded the ball and ran out the clock.
“I thought our defense kept us in it. Offensively, it was our worst shooting night of the year. We had to grind it out, and fortunately, we were able to do that,” West Shamokin coach Mike Nagy said.
The Wolves were especially good on defense in the first half as they limited Ford City to just four field goals to build a 21-16 lead.
West Shamokin extended that lead to 27-16 with 3:06 left in the third quarter, but that was when the Sabers shifted gears.
After playing a half-court game for most of the contest, Ford City rolled out a full-court press that caused the Wolves some problems. The Sabers scored the final seven points of the quarter to cut the lead to 27-23 and set up a back-and-forth final quarter.
“We played their style in the first half. We played a slowed-down game instead of pushing the ball and running it,” Ford City coach Greg Hutcherson said. “The second half was totally different, and you see what happened.”
The Wolves opened the lead back to six, but four straight points by Heilman cut it to 38-36 in the final minute. Clowser made two foul shots, and Zac Horner made 1 of 2 after a Sequiera layup to set up Ford City's final play.
“We finally got a lead there, and (Ford City) came right back down and hit a shot,” Nagy said. “Whenever we got some breathing room, they'd cut into it right away.”
Making three of its final four foul shots was big for a West Shamokin team that was just 9 for 18 in the game. Ford City was 13 for 20 at the line, but the Sabers hurt themselves with 22 turnovers on offense that negated a good defensive effort.
“We felt like we could lock them down defensively. We held them to 41, but they held us to 38,” Hutcherson said. “That was definitely good defense, but they scored three points more than we did.”
The outcome leaves Summit Academy as the only 2-0 team in Section 1-AA after two games.
“With just 10 section games, every one is so vital. It doesn't matter who you play,” Nagy said. “We got out to a bad start at Burrell, and this was almost a must-win for us early in the year.”