Spartans Lanced in Bid for Title
Hughesville’s potential dynasty was derailed last Saturday when Loyalsock again reached the District IV summit., defeating H-town 72-61.
‘Sock captured its sixth district championship this decade, denying the Spartans their third title in four years and winning their first championship since a five-year reign ended in 2005.
The effort to win was contagious as the Lancers collectively outworked Hughesville while opening a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter.. Three players scored in double figures and Stephen Stopper hit four straight free throws in the final minute to seal a momentous win in front of a frenzied crowd that packed Montoursville’s gym well before tip-off.
Loyalsock earned a first-round state tournament game this Saturday at a District 4 site and will meet District 2 runner-up Riverside. Hughesville (20-5) is headed to states for a fourth straight year and will play District 2 champion Holy Cross at a District 2 site.
“Hughesville is a great team and I told the kids that the team that hustles the most, all things put equal, will win the game and end up on top and I think we outhustled them for the most part,” said ‘Sock coach Ron Insinger, who won his 10th district title as Loyalsock’s boys coach. “They’ve played way, way beyond my expectations.”
Insinger actually thought Loyalsock might be a year away from being a district champion with Colin Kelly being the team’s only starting senior. But the Lancers won 14 of their first 15 games, took two of three against the Spartans and avenged their only two Class AA losses during their district playoff run.
“It was a joke,” Hughesville coach Nick Tagliaferri said. “We got dismantled by a group of people who wanted to win way more than anybody in that locker room.”
The Spartans looked good early, hitting six of their first 11 shots and opening a 26-21 second-quarter lead when Rezin Davis drilled a NBA-range 3-pointer. But that was the high point for Hughesville as Loyalsock ended the half on an 11-1 run and took a five-point lead into the half.
That trend continued in the third quarter as the Lancers played strong on both ends and took a 43-28 lead with 4:30 remaining. That 18-2 quarter-bridging run took less than seven minutes and paved the way to a championship.
That balance made it difficult for Hughesville to mount a comeback but the Spartans still threatened in the fourth quarter, thanks mostly to reserve Jordan Holmes who scored all 13 of his points during that time.
A Holmes 3-pointer pulled Hughesville within 63-57 with 2:27 remaining, but the Spartans mostly exchanged baskets with Loyalsock in the final quarter. Every time Hughesville rallied, Loyalsock answered with a field goal or free throws. Other than Holmes, Hughesville made just 3 of 12 fourth-quarter shots and a Bittle inside basket clinched the game in the final minute, giving Loyalsock a 68-57 lead.
Davis scored 18 points and made three fourth-quarter steals for Hughesville. Addison Hanford added seven points and seven rebounds.
Rezin Davis 6 4-6 18, Brian Gerney 3 3-4 9, Addison Hanford 2 3-5 7, Bryan Hoover 0 4-6 4, Andy Laychur 0 0-0 0, Jordan Holmes 4 3-4 13, Greg Taggart 3 0-0 8, Drew Eiswerth 0 0-0 0, Bryce Pardoe 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 17-25 61.
3-pointers: Hughesville 2 (Davis 2, Holmes 2, Taggart 2); Loyalsock 4 (Pagana 2, Kelly, Kinney). Records: Loyalsock 21-3, Hughesville 20-5.
Hughesville guaranteed itself a fourth consecutive trip to the PIAA Class AA playoffs against ‘Sock when they defeated No. 2 seed defeated Troy 61-47 at Mansfield on Feb. 24.
In that game, the champions watched a 17-point fourth-quarter lead dip to 10 points against Troy but dug in, making just one field goal over the final eight minutes..
The teams traded free throws to keep the Hughesville advantage at 10 points, but once again Troy failed to claw closer when it missed a shot with under 3:20 remaining. The Hughesville parade to the foul line ensued and the Spartans closed out the game making 8-of-12 attempts.
“They’re good and they are a very difficult team to guard,” said Hughesville coach Nick Tagliaferri. “It was disappointing we didn’t convert easy layups, we missed some free throw opportunities and we had some open jumpers. We were really close to that getting out of hand.
Davis scored Hughesville’s only field goal in the fourth when he leaked out on the break for an easy layup with less than six minutes remaining. His basket gave Hughesville a 13-point lead (52-39).
Davis, Hughesville’s all-time leading scorer, finished with a game-high 21 points. He was shut out from the 3-point line, but became the consistent scorer the Spartans lacked in their one-point win over Mount Carmel in the first round of districts.
Brian Gerney added 10 points for the Spartans, who also received a lift from inside the paint from Hanford. The junior scored nine points and helped the taller Spartans grab 12 offensive rebounds.
“We definitely wanted to control the boards,” said Hanford. “It definitely got us going and got points on the board for us.”
Troy lefty Jordan Brunelle slashed his way through the Hughesville defense for 16 points.
Bryan Hoover 1 3-4 6, Andy Laychur 1 1-2 3, Jordan Holmes 2 1-2 6, Drew Eiswerth 0 0-0 0, Greg Taggart 1 3-6 6, Rezin Davis 8 5-7 21, Bryce Pardoe 0 0-0 0, Addison Hanford 4 1-2 9, Brian Gerney 4 1-2 10, Torin Jeffreys 0 0-0 0, Ryan Akers 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 15-25 61.
3-point goals: Hughesville 4 (Hoover, Holmes, Taggart, Gerney), Troy 4 (Stroup 2, House, Schucker).
Class AA Regional Competition was held this past weekend in Williamsport. The top three place winners will be heading to Hershey this week. Muncy’s Aaron Fry, is the lone grappler who made it out. Fry reached the finals at 135 but lost to Derek Shingara, Shamokin 4-3.
Fry’s first trip to Hershey as a competitor will begin on Thursday as he takes on Mitch Spencer of Avella.
Roundup of how area wrestlers fared this past weekend:
125-Seth Bartlett of Montgomery was defeated by Josh Lahr, Shamokin 6-0
135-Aaron Fry, Muncy, defeated Jon Lynn Lackawanna Trail, 16-6
140-Zach Strickland, Muncy, major decision John Eisenhaur, Dallas. 13-1
152-Anthony Juser, Elk Lake major dec. Ryan Hembury, Muncy, 18-4
135-Aaron Fry, Muncy dec. Travis Erdman, Line Mountain, 7-4
140-Garrett Russell, Athens dec. Zach Strickland, Muncy, 4-2
125-Seth Bartlett, Montgomery dec. Devon Fiorenitino, Elk Lake, 4-0
152-Josh Harrison, Wayne dec. Ryan Hembury, Muncy, 3-1
125-Ethan Midkiff, Mifflinburg dec. Seth Bartlett, Montgomery, 3-1
140-Elias Biddle, Warrior dec. Zach Strickland, Muncy, 7-4
135-Derek Shingara, Shamokin dec. Aaron Fry, Muncy, 4-3