By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
MILTON -- Three times Lewisburg and Loyalsock have faced off this season. Three times the Green Dragons have hung with the Lancers until Loyalsock put together a second-half run to pull away.
So Lewisburg knew exactly what it had to avoid to avert a fourth loss to the Lancers this season in Wednesday District 4 Class AA boys basketball semifinals at Milton High School.
The the Green Dragons just weren't able to do it.
After they took an early two-point lead in the second half, Loyalsock put together a 20-6 spurt to end the third quarter on its way to a 64-55 win.
"I thought we got some good looks during (Loyalsock's) run, but we missed some shots we normally make," Lewisburg coach John Vaji said.
Loyalsock (23-3) advances to play Wellsboro, which beat East Juniata 53-29 in the other semifinal, in the District 4 Class AA final. The Green Dragons (22-4) face the Tigers in the third-place game and the final District 4 berth in the PIAA playoffs.
Though Lewisburg trailed most of the first half, the Green Dragons scored the first four points of the third quarter to take a 26-24 lead with 6:28 left on a Travis Conrad bucket. Lewisburg was holding the Lancers guards in check and though center Roger Wilson had nine first-half points, the Green Dragons 1-3-1 zone was making things difficult for the Loyalsock offense.
"Our game plan was to take something away from them," Vaji said. "I thought we executed it well. (Loyalsock) made some adjustments at halftime, but I thought we were still playing our 1-3-1 zone real well."
However, Loyalsock was able to draw five fouls on the Green Dragons in the first 2:45 of the third quarter. Wilson converted one-of-two foul shots, a three-point play and missed the foul shot on another made basket, but it gave Loyalsock a 30-26 lead with 5:13 left. It also left Lewisburg freshman standout Sam Allen with three fouls sending him to the bench for a stretch.
After Nick Costagliola cut the lead to two for the Green Dragons, the Lancers scored seven in a row to open up a 37-28 lead with 2:46 left in the third. By the time, Omar Little canned a 3-pointer with one second left in the third the Lancers had built a 12-point advantage.
Loyalsock would lead by as many as 16 early in the fourth before Allen, who scored 11 fourth-quarter points, sparked a 10-2 run to cut the Lancers lead to 52-43 with four minutes left in the game.
It would be as close as Lewisburg would get. Loyalsock got two late field goals from Wilson and made enough foul shots late to keep its double-digit lead.
Wilson had an outstanding all-around game for the Lancers. He finished with 21 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks and five steals, but he was just one of four Loyalsock players in double figures. Little had 12 points, while Kyle Datres and Mike Pastore each chipped in 10. Datres also had 10 assists.
Allen led the Green Dragons with 15 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. Mike Driscoll chipped in 11 points, nine of which came in the first half.