Lead withers late in contest
LEWISTOWN – Evan Seby’s contested 3-point shot to tie the game with 15 second left on the clock got past the defense but hit the side of the rim, leaving Mifflin County short in a 60-56 loss to Cumberland Valley Tuesday in a Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division boys basketball contest.
“I thought our guys played hard,” Mifflin County coach Aaron Gingrich said. “I thought we played well and outplayed Cumberland Valley for 24 of the 32 minutes. There were two segments where they crawled back in the first half and caught us in the end.”
After Gray Kline accounted for 18 of Cumberland Valley’s 29 first-half points, his supporting cast was forced to pick up the slack in the second half to complete the comeback.
“I thought defensively in the second half, we switched some things up and kept (Kline) out of the paint and limited his open looks,” Gingrich said. “We had some breakdowns against their supplemental players that caused us to rotate out of position and give up some easy buckets.”
Gingrich put John Michael Maclay on Kline and Maclay held him to three points after the break.
“John Michael Maclay was the key in shutting down Kline in the second half,” Gingrich said. “He played a big part in that.”
Hunter Wright totaled 11 points, a team-best 11 rebounds and four assists, while Curtis Jerzerick added a team-high 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
“Hunter does a lot for us,” Gingrich said. “He puts active numbers on the board. He’s a huge part our game, as is Curtis inside. Curtis is undersized, but I guarantee you, the ticker in his chest, no one is going to match that no matter what team we play.”
It took Mifflin County a few minutes, but once they got started, baskets came a lot easier.
After a basket to tie it at 2, Mifflin County scored 19 points in the final 5:02 of the first quarter.
Maclay had six of those 19 points, including hitting all four of his free throws as the Huskies took a 21-16 lead, that was capped off by Seby’s three as the quarter expired.
Wright’s drive started a 14-0 run for the Huskies that spanned from the last minute of the first quarter until Kline’s basket ended the run with 4:50 left in the second quarter.
Cumberland Valley’s 9-2 at the back end of the second quarter got the Eagles back into it. They closed what was once a 28-16 gap to within 31-29 with 30 seconds to go in the half.
Jerzerick’s put-back on Maclay’s miss in the waning second of the half put Mifflin County up 33-29 going into the locker room.
Jerzerick led the Huskies in the first half with 12 points, while Wright did a little bit of everything in the half, scoring six points, adding three assists and two rebounds.
Kline carried the load for Cumberland Valley in the opening half, scoring 18 points.
He hit a big corner three off an offensive rebound that cut the lead back to two points for the first time since Maclay first gave Mifflin County the lead at 18-16.
Kline got some help from Matt Tamanosky to start the second half.
The forward scored two baskets to open the half as a part of an 8-3 Eagles run to give them a 37-36 edge, their first since the middle of the first quarter.
Mifflin County got the momentum right back when Wright got a Cumberland Valley rebound and found Maclay in transition for the go-ahead basket with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Seby followed on the next possession with another huge 3-pointer to put the Huskies back up four points.
The Huskies couldn’t tack to the remainder of the quarter and took a 41-37 lead into the final quarter.
Jerzerick ended a three-minute cold spell for both teams when his drive and lay-in with 6:30 left in the game put Mifflin County up 45-39.
Cumberland Valley answered with five straight to draw within one point at 45-44.
Jerzerick found Nate Koller for a basket to put the Huskies up 47-44.
Kline answered when he scored for the first time in the half, when he drove and drew the foul.
The three-point play tied the game back up at 47-47.
Wright’s free throws put the Huskies back up 51-49 and Jerzerick found Maclay in transition with a chance to extend the lead to four.
Kline chased Maclay down from behind and blocked the shot to keep the game at 51-49.
Four straight points from Kyle Toohey put the Eagles back up 53-51 with 1:47 to play in the game.
Wright’s 3-pointer with 19 seconds to play got the Huskies within two again at 58-56.
After Adam Hawk split free throws, Seby’s challenged three from the left wing hit the side of the rim.
“Surprisingly, I thought we played better tonight than we did Saturday in a win,” Gingrich said. “At this point in the season, you’re looking to improve every game. If you get better, every night that’s all you can ask of a team.”
Mifflin County fell in the JV contest, 64-41 score. Cade Attick scored 15 points for the Huskies in the loss.
The Huskies (1-1, 0-1) will be in action next on Friday at 7:30 p.m. when they travel to Central Dauphin.