By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
SUNBURY -- With fewer than two minutes gone in the fourth quarter, Zach Moyer hit a bucket for Shamokin.
What made his shot significant was that, for the first time all game Saturday, the Indians held a double-digit lead over Shikellamy.
While the Braves flirted with single digits a few times late -- cutting their deficit to nine points twice -- the game was effectively over once Moyer's shot went down with 6:04 to go. The Indians cruised the rest of the way for a 54-39 win over their Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I rivals, preventing Shikellamy from clinching a District 4 berth on its home court on Senior Day at Phil Lockcuff Gym.
"They were much more physical than we were. A lot of 50-50 balls they got," Braves coach Tim Foor said. "They really attacked the offensive boards and we didn't box out well enough to win."
Shikellamy (10-9, 7-4 HAC-I) struggled grabbing offensive boards, ending the game with just six while Shamokin (17-2, 11-1) had 11 and a 25-21 overall advantage.
While Shamokin won by 14 points and swept the teams' regular-season series -- winning 64-54 at "The Purple Palace" in Shamokin -- the game was anything but lopsided early on.
Shikellamy and Shamokin went back-and-forth throughout the first two quarters. The Braves used a 9-0 run midway through the second quarter to erase a 23-16 deficit and took their first lead of the game, 25-23, since Garrett Kemberling hit a putback to start the game. That seven-point Indians lead was their largest until the fourth.
Shikellamy also held a four-point lead with 1:35 to play until the half, but Shamokin responded with a quick 4-0 spurt to close the gap and head into the half tied at 29-all.
The Indians offense was solid throughout the game. Moyer led Shamokin with 13 points (11 in the first half), while Josh Pappas nearly had a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds. Jake Weaver added seven points and a team-high four assists, and Isaiah Reiprich scored nine points.
"I thought we came out and ran some good quality sets to start the third quarter, but then it went south and part of that problem was they have three or four kids that can really handle the ball," Foor said. "They're really smart with the ball and they made really good decisions and we sort of fed into that because I thought we were really quick on the offensive end during that run where we were a little more patient, trying to take some time off the clock (and) slow them down a little bit from their quick run."
Shikellamy was held to just 10 second-half points, only six coming from the floor. Senior C.J. Tyler led the Braves offense with 12 points while Austin Mowery added eight, including two 3-pointers.
Kyle Leitzel scored six and Garrett Kemberling added five with a team-high seven boards.
The Braves end the regular season with three straight on the road. That sequence begins Wednesday when Shikellamy travels to Milton.
"Jersey Shore and Milton are searching for win No. 11 (too) so I think we're all in the same boat a little bit," Foor said of two of the Braves' last opponents. "We're on the road, so it's going to be a tough situation, but our goal is to get one of the three -- or more than that, but all we need is one (to make districts)."