By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
MONTOURSVILLE -- Sam Allen's game-tying putback helped Lewisburg go to the final quarter with a little bit of momentum against undefeated St. John Neumann.
But rebounding highlights were few and far between without big man Will Sigl -- out with an illness -- and the Green Dragons lost their shooting touch.
All that combined to hurt Lewisburg in the Heartland Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals on Friday at Montoursville H.S., as the Golden Knights pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 45-37 win.
HAC-III champion Neumann faces HAC-II winner Loyalsock 7:30 today at Williamsport High for the tournament title.
"I told them it's all about your defensive intensity; our offense would take care of itself. We didn't play exceptional offense, but it all comes down to defense," St. John Neumann coach Paul Petcavage said. "Your offense comes and goes, but your defense is always there."
A big part of that defensive effort for Neumann (23-0) came from boxing out and preventing Lewisburg from grabbing offensive rebounds. The Green Dragons (18-3) pulled just five offensive rebounds and the Knights held a 36-17 advantage on the glass.
Jesse Flannery led Lewisburg with nine points, while both Matt Fedorjaka and Sam Allen had eight. Nic Costagliola had a team-high seven rebounds.
Neumann's Alize Johnson proved tough to slow down, as he posted a double-double by halftime, and ended his day with game-highs of 19 points and 20 rebounds, to go with four assists, a steal and a block.
"I thought we defended him pretty well (because) he had to earn everything he got," Lewisburg coach John Vaji said. "They were able to take advantage of some of their athleticism and basketball ability.
"(I'm) proud of the guys. They just battled their hearts out and they left it all out on the floor and, unfortunately, we came out on the short end."