HOLLIDAYSBURG - With 33 combined points at the half between Mount Union and Central in the opening round of the District 6 Class AA boys basketball tournament Wednesday, neither team was putting up the numbers fans might be accustomed to seeing.
No. 7 seed Central had a 20-13 lead at the half as the No. 10 Trojans failed to score in their typically explosive fashion, and in the end it was poor shooting from the field that sunk the Trojans, 60-42, to end their season.
Despite the Trojans' typical high scores, if there was one person who was not surprised by the low-scoring game, it was coach Joe Komir.
Sentinel photo by PATRICK?WAKSMUNSKI
Mount Union’s B.J. Loner gets by Central’s Zach Slagenweit in a District 6 Class AA?boys basketball playoff game at Hollidaysburg Wednesday.
"Not at all," he said. "I know how Central plays and I know how we play," he continued, explaining that he expected a low scoring, defensive game.
Komir was right in that the game was defense oriented - especially through the first half - but unfortunately for his team it was Central that came out on top in both the defensive and offensive categories.
The turning point in the game was near the middle of the third, when Central's Alex Lafferty and Austin Cunninghan hit three straight from beyond the arc to give their team a 28-19 lead. Seconds later, Lafferty extended the lead even more when he drove to the basket and completed the and-1 after getting fouled going up for the shot. By the end of the quarter, Central led 40-24, and from there rode out a 20-point effort to Mount Union's 18 in the fourth for the win.
For the Trojans, frustrations that went beyond poor shooting marred their attempts at the win. One such frustration was the extra time starters Keiton Pollock and B.J. Loner had to spend on the bench due to three fouls apiece by the first minute of the third. Two of Loner's fouls came on charge calls in the second as Central adjusted to his drives to the basket and drew the two calls to slow the high jumper's aerial attacks.
Another frustration for Mount Union came from Central's big man Ben Brumbaugh, who went toe-to-toe with Trevon Walker to pull down many of the boards the Trojan normally would have claimed as his own during the regular season.
Komir said he thought the team played decent defense, it was just trouble putting the ball through the hoop that caused the loss. The quarter where this was most apparent was the second, when a 3-pointer from Kole House plus a 2-pointer and foul shot from Walker were the Trojans' only points.
Overall, Walker scored 14 points to lead his team, but no other Mount Union player was able to break double figures. This was tempered by a game high 16 from Lafferty and 13 from Cunningham.
The Trojans finish the season at 13-10 and have some nice memories to take away from the season, including the landmark 300th career win for Komir and a second-place finish in the Inter-County Conference. They also lose only one starter - Heffner - to graduation, so Komir says he looks forward to what next season holds.
Central (15-7) advances to play No. 2 Tyrone Friday in Huntingdon.