LEWISTOWN - Mifflin County's opportunistic defense sparked an explosive offense Thursday night as the Huskies routed Selinsgrove 72-44 to advance to the championship game of the 2012 Holiday River Tournament, which Mifflin County hosted.
Guards John Michael Maclay, Curtis Jerzerick, Cy Treaster and Hunter Wright turned a close seven-point, first-quarter lead into a 16-point halftime advantage, producing off numerous Seals turnovers in the boys basketball event.
What a way to celebrate a birthday as well for Mifflin County center Seth Wagner, who was the recipient of some of those Mifflin County steals, posting a double- double with 30 points and 16 rebounds along with three blocks in the Huskies' victory.
Sentinel photo by MATT?STRICKER
Mifflin County’s Hunter Wright (10) takes a shot between Selinsgrove defenders Isaiah Rapp (23), David Aurand (5), and Ethan Fadale Thursday in Lewistown. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com
"We were aware that we would have an advantage inside the paint. We thought it was crucial for our guys to own the glass and look for Seth to get a lot of touches in the paint and attack the rim," Mifflin County coach Aaron Gingrich said. "For the most part I thought he did.
"He was two or three inches taller than their biggest player but still you have to be active and I thought he was active going to the ball, on second chances, he finished strong, he finished tough and sometimes with aggressive teams who are undersized, they can take you out of that," Gingrich said. "I thought tonight it was pretty evident that he was going to own the glass."
Wagner did it all from the floor, hitting 15 attempts, two of which ended in a dunk.
IF YOU GO
* Mifflin County takes on Shikellamy in the Holiday River championship at 8 p.m. following the Mifflin County-Central Mountain girls game
Teammates Wright and Evan Seby just missed scoring in double figures, each finishing with eight points.
Selinsgrove had two players finish with 12, David Aurand and Dillon Hoke. Hoke kept the game close in the opening period, scoring 10 of his 12 in the first quarter.
In the first quarter, Wagner waisted little time getting the scoring started. The Husky center went right inside at the heart of the Seals' defense for an easy two. Wagner would go onto score the first 10 points, giving the Huskies a 12-7 lead with 4:57 left when Selinsgrove called a time out.
After the stoppage, Hoke battled to put his team back within striking distance, scoring the next seven out of 10 points to make it 15-14.
However, a coast-to coast bucket by Maclay brought the momentum back the Mifflin County's side. Wagner finished off the final scoring of the quarter, hitting the final four points to give the Huskies a 21-14 lead.
The Seals opened the second quarter with a 5-2 run, cutting back into the Mifflin County lead. Wagner's bucket was good for the Huskies' only points early in that period.
Mifflin County's defense swarmed the Selinsgrove offense from there, forcing turnover after turnover and building a comfortable 39-23 lead as the two teams went into the intermission.
The Huskies never looked back, continuing the build on their already big lead, extending it in the third quarter to a 19-point advantage.
Mifflin County had seven different players score in the session. Picking up points were Wagner (6), Treaster (4), Seby (4), Curtis Jerzerick (2), Wright (2), Maclay (2) and Louis Jerzerick (2).
In the final stanza, Gingrich got a chance to get some of his bench players some valuable court time. They didn't miss a beat continuing the pressure and clinching the victory.
Mifflin County will do battle against Shikellamy today in the championship game, facing Shikellamy, which defeated Octorara 59-48. The game - the second meeting between the two non-league opponents - is slated for an 8 p.m. start time, following the Mifflin County girls 6:30 game in their holiday event.
The boys consolation is at 3:30 p.m. and the girls opener at 5.