By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
COAL TWP. -- Austin Stine went up and grabbed the offensive rebound and saw Ryan Sebasovich bolting down the court. Sebasovich quickly found himself with the ball and scored an easy layup with 50 seconds remaining as Shamokin's fans cheered.
The basket was pivotal in that it gave Shamokin a double-digit lead for the first time since early in the third quarter Friday. From there, the Indians held off Minersville's attempts to rally back and walked away with a 58-47 win in the 47th annual Knights of Columbus tournament at Shamokin's Purple Palace on Friday night.
Shamokin (7-0) faces Lourdes -- a winner over Line Mountain -- in today's championship game at 7:30 p.m.
The Battlin' Miners made it an interesting game early in the fourth quarter when Tobin Spencer hit a shot with 5:53 to play to make it a three-point game, 46-43. It was all part of a rally that saw the Indians relinquish an 18-point lead as they struggled offensively in the second half.
In the second half, Shamokin scored only four baskets from the floor (two in each quarter).
"Give Minersville a lot of credit: they defended well. They had a pretty strong group out there and we only had four baskets, but we were going to the foul line quite a bit," Shamokin coach Chris Zimmerman said.
The Indians used the charity stripe to prevent Minersville from swinging all the momentum its way. Shamokin went 6-for-9 at the stripe in the third quarter and 8-for-12 in the fourth. As a team, the Indians shot 69 percent (25-for-36) from the line.
Spencer led Minersville with a 13-point performance, along with six rebounds, while Collin Hashin scored 12, and Bethea Shameik added 10.
Shamokin had a bend-don't-break mentality on Friday, however, and despite giving up a huge 18-point lead, the Indians never trailed to Minersville in the second half and stayed focused on the task at hand.
"We've been in some tough games (and) this group has a lot of experience. This kind of basketball, it's a game of runs. Unfortunately, like I said, I think Minersville defended pretty well and we were missing a couple shots too," Zimmerman said. "I think offensively, we started pressing a little bit too because (of) not seeing a ball go through the basket a little bit. I think overall they kept their composure and they've been in a lot of close games last year (and) this year, so they're used to that."
While Minersville did play solid defense throughout the game, one thing it couldn't fully do was shut down Stine.
The senior ended his night with a double-double (19 points, 11 rebounds) while also dishing out two assists and having a team-high two blocks. Of those 19 points, 10 came from the line.
"He's a beast. He plays hard and he's probably, if not the most skilled player in the league, he's one of them," Zimmerman said. "He can put it on the floor, he can shoot it, he plays well above the rim; he does a lot of things really strong. He's a tough matchup for people. He works his butt off, too. He loves the game, he plays hard, (and) he plays the right way."
Sebasovich added 18 points for the Indians as well as swiping away a team-high three steals. Jakob Weaver scored nine.
The game was a back-and-forth affair through the first quarter, as Minersville and Shamokin exchanged leads five times. Sebasovich scored with 1:30 to play to go up 8-7, and from there the Battlin' Miners never led again.
Shamokin was ahead by double-digits with 3:10 to play until halftime when Zach Moyer (6 points) hit a shot to go up by 11. The Indians held Minersville in the second quarter to just three field goals from the floor as it built a 16-point lead with 40 seconds left to go into the half.
Minersville turned the ball over 17 times in the loss (10 in the first half), and Shamokin had seven steals.
The Battlin' Miners face Line Mountain at 6 today in the tournament consolation game.