By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
Loyalsock has the ability, it seems, to have anyone step up on any given night and unfortunately, Lewisburg has found that out the hard way this season.
The first time these HAC-II foes went at it, the Lancers’ Ben Sosa scored 14 points.
The rematch? It was Mike Pastore with 13 points.
On Saturday? It was Omar Little.
The senior guard was solid for Loyalsock against a tough Lewisburg defense and scored a team-high 18 points to help down Lewisburg in the first HAC tournament championship, 57-50, at the Magic Dome.
“They’ve been able to have different guys rise to piggyback with Roger (Wilson). We’ve taken one guy away and another guy hit (big buckets),” Lewisburg coach John Vaji said. “You’re disappointed, you’re discouraged you lost, but you look back and say ‘hey, we’re right there with one of the best teams in the state.’ A break here or there and we’re going to come out on top and that’s what these guys got to believe in themselves.”
The Green Dragons managed to tie the game once with 5:52 to play in the second quarter when junior guard Jesse Flannery made it 20-all. After Lewisburg tied it, Loyalsock responded with a 12-0 run that put the Green Dragons into a huge hole that it struggled to climb out of.
The Loyalsock run all but put the game away, as the Green Dragons got no closer than seven points the rest of the night.
The offensive spurt for Lewisburg early came after senior Travis Conrad left the game with an injury.
Roger Wilson recorded a double-double for the Lancers with 15 points and 14 boards while also recording four blocks and two steals.
Loyalsock got out to a big lead in the first half, building up a 10-point lead halfway through the first quarter and holding a double digit lead the second half of the second, leading by as many as 14 points at one time.
“I was a little skeptical coming into this game just because you very seldom can beat a quality ball team three times in a row and gosh, these kids did it and they did it with style,” Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. “They played hard ball for 32 minutes of fullcourt pressure and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Lewisburg had a huge night from freshman Sam Allen, a center who not only led the Green Dragons in scoring with 16 points, but also grabbed 10 boards.
“He came to play. He was aggressive, he took it (and) he played hard,” Vaji said. “(He) played admirably. He went toe to toe with one of the best centers in the area (Wilson). He didn’t back down, he really got after some and played well.”
The Green Dragons outscored Loyalsock in the second half (26-21), but a 16-8 second quarter for Loyalsock—including its 12-0 run—proved to be the biggest factor of the night.
“We outscored them in the second half, did a lot of good things, but when it comes to crunch time, we’ve got to be a little tougher physically and mentally to want to get the job done,” Vaji said. “The kids are playing hard, but we have to be a little tougher physically to match Loyalsock’s toughness.”