By The Daily Item
For The Daily Item
SUNBURY — Austin Stine gathered the ball and softly kissed a layup off of the glass as he was falling, midway through the fourth quarter.
Much like the Shamokin forward’s senior season, he may have fallen to the court but he returned to his feet with a vengeance. Stine helped to solidify Shamokin’s inside presence against Central Columbia and the rest of the Indians’ game quickly fell into place.
With numerous scoring threats inside and out, Shamokin defeated Central Columbia, 59-40 to take the District 4 Class AAA title at Shikellamy High School Saturday.
With the victory, the Indians (22-3) will face District 2 third-place finisher G.A.R. in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA state tournament March 7, while the Blue Jays (18-7) will take on Abington Heights, the District 2 champion.
“We didn’t want to put a number (of wins) in on anything but we knew what the potential was,” Shamokin coach Chris Zimmerman said of his team. “This group here has worked extremely hard throughout the course of year, the offseason, and they deserve (a district title).”
The trip to the state tournament is the Indians’ first since the 2008-2009 season in which the Indians followed a district title with a win in the first round of the state tournament.
Stine came back from injuries to both wrists in time for the district tournament and was rewarded with a district gold medal.
“That’s all we wanted from the beginning of the year,” Stine said. “We got it so it’s great. It’s amazing.”
Shamokin used a 16-2 run to end the first half to push a tight game into a double-digit lead, using a pair of sophomore guards to start the run.
Jake Weaver hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 16 and dished the ball to Ryan Sebasovich on the Indians’ next possession as Sebasovich stroked a trey from the top of the key to give the Indians the lead.
Sebasovich and Weaver both made a habit of breaking down the Blue Jays’ defense throughout the game with Sebasovich scoring a team-high 15 points while Weaver added nine.
“The whole team when we’re out there, we play as a team,” Sebasovich said. “It’s not just about one person. We all play together.”
The Indians’ balance was clear as five players scored at least seven points against the Blue Jays.
The Indians reeled off 11 straight points during the run with Zach Moyer also getting into the act behind the arc before Central’s Payton Aucker hit a pair of free throws to stop the streak.
Aucker’s two free throws may have been his represented his first half point total but Aucker came alive offensively in the second half for the Blue Jays, scoring 19 of his game-high 21 points in the final two quarters.
Aucker kept the Blue Jays within striking distance against a Shamokin squad firing on all cylinders throughout the game.
The Indians used a balanced scoring attack in the third quarter to stay ahead by double digits with four players scoring in the third, while Aucker was there to keep pace for the Blue Jays.
Aucker scored all but two of the Blue Jays’ points in the third quarter, helping to kick-start a 13-2 Central run to bring the Blue Jays within seven, 43-36.
However, seven points was the closest Central came to taking the lead as Shamokin answered with a 7-0 run, using offensive rebounds to get close put-backs.
Aucker hit another 3-pointer after the Shamokin run but the Blue Jays were unable to climb back to within single digits.