---- — By Eric Shultz
For The Daily Item
COAL TOWNSHIP -- After falling to Lourdes Regional on Friday by 16 points, Line Mountain coach Craig Reichard knew Saturday's matchup would be a tough one, even before learning his team's opponent.
Undefeated Shamokin hadn't yet beat Minersville, putting the Battlin' Miners in the consolation game of the Knights of Columbus Holiday Basketball Tournament against the Eagles. But either team would have given Reichard's squad a challenge.
"Whoever loses this game, we're in for a battle," Reichard said Friday.
Still, Reichard -- and most likely everybody else in attendance -- was not prepared for what happened in the first half against the Miners on Saturday. The Eagles, who ultimately fell in the consolation game, 51-22, headed into halftime with the same score they started with -- zero points.
"This is my third year here. I've been coaching a lot longer than that overall," Reichard said. "I've never seen that happen. I'm speechless."
The Miners (5-3) outplayed the Eagles on both ends of the floor to take third place in the boys' tournament. After leading at halftime, 28-0, they gradually inserted their substitutes as the shots finally fell for the Eagles (0-9) late in the game.
"We played well. We forced the issue," Miners coach Cliff Woodford said.
Starter Spencer Tobin and sub Chris Leshko led the Miners with nine points apiece, while starter Aaron Fritz and sub Jonathan McBreen chipped in eight points each. The Miners' offense generally swung the ball around to find quality looks, slowly building a lead in the first quarter before really opening things up in the second.
But if there was a silver lining for Reichard, it was the Eagles' defense.
"Our defense kept the game where it was ... (To) give up 28 points in one half and 23 in another, you just got to match it," he said.
Meanwhile, the shooting woes that helped put the Eagles in the consolation game carried over to Saturday, as they shot 9-of-34 from the floor. But they kept their heads in the game and finally began to hit some close-range shots.
"I think they want to win so bad, they have too much pressure on themselves. They're not relaxed," Reichard said, also mentioning that the team was more relaxed after halftime.
The Eagles got on the scoreboard with a bucket by junior Elijah Zablosky in the second half's opening minute.
The basket received probably the loudest ovation of the game, and Zablosky sank several more shots as the second half progressed. He hit five field goals and finished with a game-high 11 points, followed closely by junior teammate Kellan Masser's eight points.