By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
SUNBURY -- It wasn't the type of start Tim Foor wanted to see.
Shikellamy trailed Selinsgrove by a point and Foor knew his Braves were a little stagnant in the first quarter. But they came out for the second quarter and picked it up defensively, and that's all Foor needed to see.
Shikellamy turned around the slow start, opening the second quarter with a 15-0 run to build a 14-point lead and put its cross-river rival into a big hole it couldn't overcome.
"That sort of set the tone for the rest of the game," Foor said of the run.
Shikellamy fended off any Selinsgrove comeback attempts and kept the defensive pressure up to defeat the Seals, 50-34, in a HAC-I showdown Friday night in the Phil Lockcuff Gymnasium at the Shikellamy Field House.
"We knew we could come out and put a run on them. We came out with some fire in the second quarter because we didn't play so well in the first," Shikellamy senior CJ Tyler said. "It was nice to get that cushion. Then from there, we could kind of coast and continue to play hard. It was nice to have that lead."
The Braves (4-5, 3-0 HAC-I) nearly held Selinsgrove (0-7, 0-3 HAC-I) scoreless through the second quarter. The only points the Seals put up in the second came on two treys: one by Ethan Fadale with 1:07 to play, which halted the 15-0 run, and the other almost 30 seconds later by Isaiah Rapp.
Selinsgrove kept the game interesting throughout the third quarter by exchanging baskets with Shikellamy to keep bringing the deficit to single digits. The Seals cut it to six (24-18) thanks to two free throws from Jake Strickler with 5:25 to play. However that was as close as Selinsgrove could make it.
Selinsgrove trailed by eight points twice, nine and seven before Shikellamy slowly rebuilt a 10-point lead. The Braves never trailed by fewer than 11 in the fourth quarter.
A big part of Selinsgrove's offensive struggle -- the Seals had double-figure points in just one quarter -- was Shikellamy's defensive pressure.
The Braves forced 18 turnovers, 15 of which occurred in the first half when Shikellamy distanced itself. Shikellamy also swiped 10 balls, including a team-high four from Austin Mowery (seven points).
"Their guards played very well, applied some pressure and didn't let us go where we wanted to go offensively," first-year Selinsgrove coach Mike Stebila said. "Both teams hustled, but they got us (Friday)."
The Seals were led by Fadale's nine points, while Logan Sears and Quinn Reiland each added six. Andrew Ryan had a team-high seven rebounds.
While the defense was solid for Shikellamy, the offensive end also picked it up when needed. Tyler ended the night with a game-high 15 points, while Derek Amerman added 11, Kyle Leitzel scored eight, and Mowery added seven. The Braves also grabbed 28 rebounds (22 defensive), including a team-high six from Amerman and five from Leitzel. Garrett Kemberling had four.
The Braves shot almost 87 percent (13-for-15) from the charity stripe in the second half, preventing Selinsgrove from getting chances off missed free throws.
"Anytime you have a lead and teams are fouling you at the end of the game and you can go to the line and knock them down, (it) sort of defeats what they're doing on the defensive end," Foor said.
Foor was most pleased with the Braves defensive execution.
"There's times we can score a bunch of points, but I was more pleased with our defensive effort. We caused a bunch of turnovers, especially in the second quarter," he said. "I think we pretty much disrupted a lot of their offensive sets. We had them scouted pretty well. We knew what was coming (and) I thought our guys adjusted to what we wanted to do defensively very well."
Selinsgrove will attempt to get its first win Tuesday when it travels to Jersey Shore. Shikellamy is back on its home floor today against Northwest.