LEWISTOWN- The Mifflin County Huskies got 20 points from Curtis Jerzerick and held the Huntingdon offense to 25 points through the first three quarters as they controlled both sides of the ball in a 60-36 win in boys basketball on Friday night.
The was slow paced as both teams were in no rush to take a shot, but instead moved the ball around patiently waiting for an open look.
The Bearcats got that open look first as Houston Riley hit a jumper to start the game. The Huskies then jumped out to a lead on a 7-0 run as Seth Wagner hit a jumper then Ted Wilson got inside for a deuce before three free throws from Wagner and Mitch Welham.
Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Mifflin County’s Seth Wagner (44) fights through traffic between Huntingdon’s Ryan Ritchey, left, and Tyler Keys in Lewistown Friday. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com
The Bearcats got two threes from Ryan Ritchey and Nate Gearhart before Huskies' guard Curtis Jerzerick went to work, scoring six in a row off putbacks after getting offensive rebounds. Jerzerick's finish to the first prompted Bearcats coach Nick Payne to scream loudly at his team to box out.
In the second the Huskies bit down hard on defense as they pressured the ball at every turn and made the Bearcats work for the five points they got in the quarter. Coach Aaron Gingrich wasn't surprised as his team has been focusing on the other side of the ball the last few weeks.
"Our defense has been very smothering over thwe past several weeks. We've been doing a good job of challenging other teams in every aspect of their game and a thing we've been preaching is nothing free," Gingrich said. "No free looks, no free passes, no free rebounds and if you challenge them at every possession usually good thing happen."
Mifflin County hosts Juniata in the Cancer Classic tonight, along with a girls game
Ted Wilson got the Huskies' offense started with two shots bookended around Jerzerick's fourth bucket of the game. They also got a three from Cy Treaster and field goals from Wagner and Welham. Meanwhile, the Bearcats got just two free throws from Riley and three points from Tyler Keys as they found themselves down 28-15 at the half.
Things didn't get much better in the third as the Bearcats got just 10 points in the period as Ralph Zoerner hit a three coming out of the break and Riley added two free throws and a tough bucket inside, but after that it was a mess of bad passes and turnovers for the Bearcats.
The Huskies kept their slow pace on offense Wagner and Wilson hit three free throws before Welham buried a three. Wagner wasn't done as he scored five more in the quarter, hitting a midrange jumper and muscling his way inside for a bank shot. Wagner finished with 15 points and also dominated on the defensive end with five boards and three blocks.
Gingrich knew his team's offense was slow but it was partly because the defense was playing so well.
"When you play defense it sometimes limits your offensive opportunites, our possessions were down, because we're playing very good defense. Sometimes our offense lingers behind but when you look at the overall spread compared to their points score lately it's been very good," he said.
In the fourth, Jerzerick went back to work hitting two shots of the quarter and putting the game away with two easy buckets. Jerzerick had 10 in the quarter and 20 for the game along with eight boards. Gingrich emptied the bench and Heath Hilday, John Michael Maclay and Louis Jerzerick combined for five points in the period.
While the Huskies dominated start to finish, they weren't perfect on offense, missing 10 layups throughout the game, and Gingrich knows his offense needs to improve before the playoffs come around.
"Smoothing out our offense against pressure is something we need to work on moving forward. We're not turning the ball over a much as we have been three, four weeks ago but right now we have to smooth out our offense where our spacing, timing and cutting is better so we can score against holding and bumping on defense," Gingrich said. "Because as the season progresses you get into the playoffs against more physical teams therefore it's imperative that our offense is very tight with our spacing and cutting but also that we're finishing, that would be the thing we need to improve on."
The Huskies improve to 12-5 with the win. They face Juniata tonight in the Cancer Classic, in which the Mifflin County girls also play the Indians, along with two JV games. The first JV game tips off at 4 p.m.; varsity begins at 6:30 with the girls and the boys at 8.