Huskies get first win in final game
LEWISTOWN — Noah Wright saved his best game for last and in the process led the Mifflin County boys’ basketball team to their first win of the season in the last game of the season.
Wright scored a career-high 31 points in his final game in a Huskies uniform as Mifflin County ended a season of frustration with a 65-46 non-league victory over Central Mountain on senior night Saturday.
“I’m so happy for our guys because we put in so much work this season and battled through so much adversity with guys getting hurt, losing players,” Mifflin County coach Scott Gaffey said. “We went to Central Dauphin with just 12 guys to play a JV and varsity game, so we were thin. I’m so proud of them and it feels good to end the season with a win.”
For Wright, the key to his dominant performance comes down to one thing — confidence.
“I’m excited. I’m sad to see it end. It’s a great feeling to win and to win that way doing all I can for my team is awesome,” Wright said. “We had a practice in the morning and I didn’t miss many shots, so that gave me confidence going into the game and it showed tonight. I had the confidence to do pretty much anything I wanted. I’m definitely sad it’s over. I love basketball, I love sports, but it’s a good way to end and I’m happy about that.”
Mifflin County got off to a fast start in the first quarter with Wright connecting on two threes and Tyler Metz nailing a trey. Wright, Metz and Conner Cherry combined for 15 points as the Huskies won the frame 20-13.
“He played amazing and we know we need him to perform for us to come out and be competitive and get a win. He went above and beyond what we expected of him in a tough situation this season,” Gaffey said. “He stuck around to help the basketball program through trying times. He was an amazing leader setting the groundwork for us moving forward. I couldn’t be happier for him to finish his career like this and there’s not a more deserving player.”
Wright kept up the hot shooting with nine in the second as Mifflin County outscored Central Mountain 18-10 in the quarter for the 38-23 lead at the half.
The one bright spot for Central Mountain (5-16) was Conner Soo. The 6-3 junior scored 22 points to go along with six assists. Wildcat standout Collin Jones, who came in averaging 18 points and nine rebounds a game, got in foul trouble early and fouled out in the fourth with eight points and six boards.
“As a totality, we didn’t play smart basketball from the get-go. We talked to him (Jones) on how to defend Wright. He was a little over-aggressive and it caught us,” Central Mountain coach Tyler Bardo said. “It’s been inattentiveness. It’s not that we overlooked them. We knew it would be a dangerous game and they would play hard. The inattentiveness to the game plan and to all those types of things was compounded.”
The shooting for both clubs went ice-cold in the third quarter. Soo scored eight as the Wildcats won the frame 13-10 to cut the deficit to 48-36 heading into the final quarter.
Any hopes of a Wildcat comeback ended when Wright scored more points (14) in the fourth than the whole Central Mountain team. The Wildcats also hurt their cause with 14 turnovers. Mifflin County protected the ball better than they have all season with only nine turnovers.
“This was the culmination for us because we’ve struggled to score points this year and we’ve struggled to take care of the ball,” Gaffey said. “We’ve had only one game where we had less than 10 turnovers and we were finally able to corral that for the last game of the year. The turnovers directly correlate to the number of points we have and that showed tonight. We take care of the ball and we have more field goal attempts and more points.”
Besides limiting the turnovers, Gaffey believes playing in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth gave his team the advantage over the Wildcats,
“Playing in the Commonwealth got us ready for this game and while we respect Central Mountain, they are not a Commonwealth team,” Gaffey said. “They have not played the level of competition we’ve played. I thought if we could come out with the same intensity as we have with some Commonwealth teams, we could win this game. Our season got us ready for this game.”
Xavier Vega made his presence felt with nine assists, making several no-look passes and a between the legs pass that impressed Gaffey.
“Xavier was amazing. He was able to get to the lane and he was finding people left and right. He did a nice job getting deep into the lane and making those connections,” Gaffey said. “He even had a between the legs pass. I’m going to have to ask him if he intended to do that. It was quite a pass down there. He had a great game.”
The Huskies won the JV game 64-39 with Adam Sheetz leading the way with 24 points on eight threes. Cherry (16) and Cade Pennepacker (11) also finished in double figures. Wright and Julian Jackson were honored on senior night.
Mifflin County ended the campaign with a 1-21 record, but has something to build on going into next season.
“Mifflin County now carries a one-game winning streak into next season, so we hope to keep this momentum, carry it into the offseason and summer league and keep getting better for next year,” Gaffey said. “There has certainly been some sleepless nights at home wondering what we can do. This feels really good to get my first career win and knowing we laid the groundwork for us to build on going into next season.”
Mifflin County 65, Central Mountain 46
Collin Jones 4 0-0 8, Conner Soo 8 6-9 22, Jake Skrtich 1 0-0 3, JT Pentz 1 0-1 2, Aidan Major 0 1-2 1, Tanner Lavelle 1 0-0 2, Zane Probst 2 0-0 4, Trevor Adair 0 2-2 2, Ujjval Adroja 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 9-16 46.
3-point goals: Skrtich.
Did not score: Peyton Johnson, Cayde McCloskey, Logan Fisher, Evan Baker.
Noah Wright 9 10-15 31, Xavier Vega 3 0-0 6, Tyler Metz 3 0-0 8, Jayden Jackson 2 0-0 4, Jace Shoemaker 2 0-0 4, Conner Cherry 4 1-2 9, Mark Shilling Jr. 1 0-0 2, Cole Knable 0 1-2 1. Totals: 24 12-19 65.
3-point goals: Wright 3, Metz 2.
Did not score: Adam Sheetz, Isaac Stewart, Owen Wise, Cade Pennepacker.
Score by quarters
Central Mountain 13 10 13 10 – 46
Mifflin County 20 18 10 17 – 65