Experience drives Trojans

LEWISTOWN – Back in Mid-Penn Conference action after winning the Holiday River Tournament, the Mifflin County boys were giving Commonwealth Division opponent Chambersburg a run for the win during the first quarter Friday.

But it never got much further than that as the Huskies eventually lost to the Trojans, 60-45.

In the first, aggressive drives to the basket by Curtis Jerzerick – who scored eight in the quarter – and a single bucket from Seth Wagner had the Huskies right in the game as they finished the quarter trailing by just four points. But in the second, the Trojans not only clamped down on defense, they also went on an offensive streak which left the Huskies in the dust.

Having already hit two buckets at the end of the first to take the 14-10 lead, Chambersburg continued its scoring ways when its quick passing on offense quickly put the lead to 18-10 within the first few minutes of the second quarter.

From there, as the Trojans’ defense continued to flabbergast the Huskies – Mifflin County wouldn’t score a point in the second until around the four-minute mark – back-to-back 3-point goals from Aaron Sollenberger and Devonte Charles put Chambersburg up 24-10 before Wagner finally answered with a free throw.

“I thought one of the keys tonight was midway through the first half, when it was tied 10-10, and they went on a run to put us down double figures,” Mifflin County coach Aaron Gingrich said, explaining that the deficit created by the run required his team to resort to a more uptempo style of defense – a transition which wasn’t entirely beneficial to the Huskies.

Gingrich said Chambersburg’s run created a scenario that “did not allow us to go through our defensive scheme of changing defenses and mixing in some zones and traps along with our man. From that point forward, we had to uptempo and play pressure man, which is something our team is not completely built to do.”

However, despite a difficult second quarter, the Huskies appeared at least in the third ready to respond to Chambersburg’s challenge.

Outscoring the Trojans 19-13 in the third, the Huskies put up their best overall effort in the quarter, and at one point had the score within nine points.

Wagner, in particular, got hot in the third, hitting nine of his game-high 16 points within those eight minutes. This scoring streak, coupled with the Huskies’ defense, which had begun to step into Chambersburg’s passing lanes to break up potential scoring plays, allowed Mifflin County to bring the score to 40-31. But, unfortunately for the Huskies, Chambersburg started to again crack the Mifflin County defense around the mid-point of the quarter, and by the end of the eight minute segment the Trojans had rebuilt their lead back to 48-37.

The Trojans then mounted another strong offensive quarter in the fourth, scoring 12 to Mifflin County’s eight, to end the game at 60-45.

“Chambersburg is a very good team. Their three losses came by a total of seven points, and they’re up to No. 4 in the District 3 power rankings. So they’re not a slouch of a team,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich further explained that one of the crucial differences between the two teams was the level of experience each has in the type of competition the Mid-Penn provides.

“They have a lot of athletes and a lot of size to contend with, but I thought one of the big issues – and we will see this against some of these size schools we’re playing – is Chambersburg’s ability to play what we like to call ‘controlled chaos basketball.’ It’s very physical, it’s very aggressive, it’s uptempo, a lot of contact,” he said.

Gingrich said that whereas his team had highs and lows of intensity, it needs to learn have how to apply that intensity throughout the game.

“I believe we got better in the second half tonight, took care of the ball better in the second half, we just need to learn how to execute against the speed and the pressure that the size of schools and the caliber of teams we’re facing can deliver,” he said.

In the JV game, Mifflin County topped Chambersburg, 51-34.

The Huskies (6-5, 1-5) travel to Central Dauphin East on Tuesday