The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

February 25, 2014

Boys basketball: Lewisburg beats Southern to set up another showdown with Loyalsock

MILTON — Having played Lewisburg twice this year, Southern Columbia coach Joey Britto knew exactly what to expect from the Green Dragons.

His game plan? Try to keep it a low-scoring affair and try to control the pace so that late in the game, Southern could try to edge out the No. 3 team in the state.

Britto’s Tigers did execute the first part of that game plan and kept it low scoring, holding Lewisburg to just 49 points after giving up 60-plus to them in both earlier meetings. However, it was the Tigers’ offense that couldn’t necessarily keep up, as Lewisburg defeated Southern Columbia inside Milton’s “Jungle” on Tuesday evening, 49-35, in the District 4 Class AA semifinals.

Lewisburg (21-3) advances to its first District 4 championship game since the 2005-06 season against Loyalsock for the third time this year, while Southern Columbia (13-12) faces Towanda in the consolation game for the right to move onto the state tournament.

Southern Columbia made it interesting in the fourth quarter when David Brokus came up with a huge trey just inside the 7-minute mark to make it a 38-29 game. Cody Olson who would sink another 3-pointer with 4 minutes to play to cut the deficit again to nine, 42-33. From there, however, Lewisburg pulled away, building up a 16-point lead late.

“Either we beat them down the floor or we just run an offense until we have a guard matched up with a big guy and he attacks the basket,” Britto said. “Try to get some open shots outside off a screen and just go from there.”

The Green Dragons had three different players hit double figures as Jesse Flannery and Tanner Host added 11 while Sam Allen led the team with 16 points. Big man Will Sigl was limited to just two points, but did grab a team-high nine boards.

Host was a big asset for Lewisburg off the bench, swiping three steals.

“A couple earlier games he was more of a perimeter player: a shooter because they played zone,” Lewisburg coach John Vaji said of Host. “With their man-to-man tonight, he was able to go left and attack the basket and get some easy opportunities for us.”

After Mike Klebon — who played outstanding for the Tigers with a team-high 12 points, six steals and five boards — knocked down a 3-pointer midway through the second quarter to make it a 15-14 game, the Green Dragons responded with a 7-0 run to close the quarter out and go into the half up by eight.

“The best thing I saw out of it (was) they didn’t force things, they didn’t get too excited. They stayed with our game plan, stayed with our offense (and) executed,” Vaji said. “We didn’t just come down and launch things. ... Our bigs I thought did a nice job when it was collapsing on kicking it back out and reposting (and) finding the open guy. I’m real proud of the guys not to put too much pressure on themselves and go out and play the game.”

The Tigers knocked down a 3-pointer to open the second half by Walker Palacz to make it a 22-17 game, but would soon find themselves staring down a double-digit deficit until the final second of the third quarter when Cam Young scored off a layup to cut Lewisburg’s lead down to eight points.

Despite the obvious height difference between Southern and Lewisburg, the Tigers had a solid night rebounding, as Southern grabbed 11 offensive rebounds — 23 total — against a team that gave up just two offensive boards in the District 4 quarterfinals.

“They know they’re outsized most of the time, but in practice we just work on attacking the basket, going after rebounds (and) loose balls,” Britto said.

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