Herd hands a loss to the Huskies

LEWISTOWN – Usually rhythm and blues go together.

Wednesday, the Mifflin County boys basketball team had the blues, but no rhythm.

With starter Curtis Jerzerick out for an injury from Tuesday’s game and and sickness chasing some other Huskies on a smaller scale, Mifflin County (9-9) succumbed to Commonwealth Division opponent Carlisle, 69-46.

“Obviously having one of your top players out is a huge factor in a game,” Mifflin County coach Aaron Gingrich said. “Curtis gives us so much energy at both ends of the floor, it’s hard to replace him, especially with zero days’ practice off of our hard-fought senior night victory last night.”

Called upon to fill Jerzerick’s large shoes, the Mifflin County reserves went out on the floor in several different combinations throughout the night, but outside of their 26-point third quarter, the Huskies struggled to hit an offensive groove.

“We looked extremely sluggish tonight in portions of the game. We had a hard-fought win last night; Carlisle had a blowout victory. And you saw that as we were not able to withstand runs by Carlisle or sustain runs by us on offense,” Gingrich explained.

To start the game’s scoring, Mifflin County’s Hunter Wright finished a 3-point play when he made one from the line after getting fouled under the basket, but the early spark was quickly dampened by Carlisle as the Thundering Herd had a 16-5 lead by the end of the first quarter.

In the next stanza, Mifflin County again scored first – this time going on a 5-0 run – but the Herd kept the Huskies scoreless through the remainder of the quarter to mount a 31-12 lead at the half. The margin came from many factors, including the fact that Carlisle’s rebounding kept Mifflin County to a one-shot offense, plus the Huskies were hesitant to take shots in the paint, and even when they did they had trouble getting the shots to fall.

But if the shots weren’t falling in the first half, it was as if a whole new Mifflin County team stepped on the floor in the third.

Mifflin County started the quarter with 12 points, and by the 2:30 mark had doubled that score to 24, but it was the final two minutes that were the Huskies’ hottest of the game.

Working off an outside game that had suddenly opened up – Mifflin County had six treys in the stanza – the Huskies brought the game to within 10 points at the end of the quarter, 48-38. A catalyst in this drive was Evan Seby, who hit three of his four total 3-pointers in the final minutes of the quarter. Seby had some help from Ross Torquato, who got a steal on defense leading to an open shot down the floor for Seby, and Jack Packer also got involved when he forced a turnover on defense then cashed in on a 3-pointer of his own.

“I was very proud of the way the guys fought back in the second half, and clearly the final score does not indicate how close the game was in the second half,” Gingrich said.

However, whatever momentum the Huskies had gained in the third quarter, it was quashed in the fourth as they again had trouble scoring and Carlisle’s Deshawn Millington hit 10 of his game-high 21 points to put the Huskies away, 69-46.

Wright had a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds, and Gingrich credited him with playing tough through a minor injury. Additionally, he pointed out Maclay, Packer and Seby as some of his players who brought a lot of energy on defense and against Carlisle’s zone, although he thought the team didn’t play at its full capabilities.

“We need to play at least 75 or 80 percent of our capability every night to win,” he explained. “And without one of our top players (and with) dead legs from last night, we clearly did not play to that capability.”

However, Gingrich is already looking forward to both Friday’s game at Central Dauphin East and some upcoming games with other District 6 teams.

“In the grand scheme of things, this game means very little toward our goal of winning the district title – and I want the guys to realize that,” he said. “We got better in the second half, and we’re going to work to get better Friday.”

In JV action, Cade Attick led the Huskies with 13 points, but the team fell, 56-40.