By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
Jesse Lattimer stood on the line and let go of his second free throw, only to see it hit off the front of the rim. That’s when Canton’s Tim Bassett swooped in, grabbed the rebound and put it right back up for 2 points to give the Warriors a 10-point lead for the first time all game.
It was only midway through the third quarter, but the basket pretty much was the straw to break the camel’s back. Line Mountain never could regain composure and the Eagles trailed by double digits the rest of the way in the District 4 Class AA first-round playoffs at Montoursville High School on Tuesday evening.
Canton advances to face No. 1 seeded Wellsboro at Mansfield University on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Bassett’s put back was part of a 17-point third quarter for Canton (14-9) that stunned Line Mountain (13-10). The Eagles scored just five points and only two of which came from the field.
“We did not make shots. We weren’t aggressive (and) they made their shots,” Line Mountain coach Craig Reichard said. “It was a 2-point game at halftime. It was theirs to take, they just didn’t take it.”
Coming out of the locker room to start the second half, Canton — which held just a 2-point lead, 22-20 — decided to switch its defense up into a zone to try and force Line Mountain to shoot over them. The defensive switch proved to be problematic for Line Mountain, which shot just 24 percent (13 for 54) from the field, including 21 percent from inside the arc.
Canton’s offense moved fast and had numerous players able to make things happen. Senior guard Emmett Watson was on fire for the Warriors, scoring a team-high 21 points.
“We played much better the second half once we kind of calmed down and realized this was a basketball game even though it’s a big one for us: first district game in 13 years,” Canton coach Lance Larcom said. “We didn’t try to do too much. ... We lost our last two and I was kind of worried about them trying to do too much those last two games, doing things we don’t normally do. But they didn’t show that tonight at all. They stayed within themselves and I thought they played very well.”
Canton’s defense did a solid job shutting down Bill Breinch, who entered Tuesday’s contest averaging 14.5 points per game. The senior guard scored just 8 points, half of them coming from the line. His first field goal from the floor came with 7:20 to play in the fourth quarter.
While Breinich was shut down offensively — he also left the game with 4:59 to play in the fourth quarter with an injury — Cole Rickert helped carry the team as he scored 10, grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, a team-high six steals and dished out two assists.
“He’s the most aggressive,” Reichard said of Rickert. “The team goes with him too and it didn’t happen tonight. We could’ve made some baskets to start (the third) and the confidence would’ve been there and then the whole team would’ve followed along. That’s how we won games this year.”
Canton led by double-digits the entire fourth quarter and, once they held an 11-point lead with 3:15 to play, never let Line Mountain cut it back into single digits. The largest lead of the night was 18 with 2:09 to play.
Line Mountain never let the game get away from them in the first half.
The Eagles had a 9-0 run through the first and second quarters to erase a 7-point deficit and actually lead 14-12 with 5:21 to play when Joe Weiler dove out of bounds to save a loose ball and threw it in right to Kellan Masser who put it up. Line Mountain then closed out the half with a 6-0 run to tie the game at 20-all with 0:53 to play.
“They just countered. They’re a nice team,” Reichard said of Canton. “We looked at the stats once we knew we were playing them and we saw they have a couple shooters on the team, some scorers. Game would’ve been different if we made some shots that we needed.”
Canton shot great from downtown as well, sinking seven 3-pointers as Watson sank three and Eddie Larcom and Mason Moore each added two.