By Eric Shultz
For The Daily Item
COAL TOWNSHIP -- When the postseason comes around, every minute counts -- a scoring drought or a hot streak here or there can either extend or end a team's championship aspirations.
Unfortunately for Milton, its offense was nowhere to be found during the opening seven minutes of the team's PIAA Class AAA state playoff game with Scranton Prep. The slow start and sub-par performance that followed set the tone for a game that ultimately eliminated the Black Panthers, who lost to the Cavaliers, 69-32.
"They were just better than us, pretty much in every facet of the game tonight," said Milton coach Steve DeLong.
The Cavaliers wasted no time in taking control of the game.
They jumped out to a 6-0 lead -- a lead they would never give up -- one minute into the contest. After James Fives hit the first bucket of the game on a baseline drive, Tim Rose tallied two breakaway layups after the Panthers failed to hit shots on their own end.
Although the Panthers slowed down the game's speed slightly after a timeout, it was still all Cavaliers on the scoreboard. While the Panthers continued to heave and miss three point attempts, the Cavaliers' transition game built a 14-0 lead before Brandon Rogers scored Milton's first basket, which came with 56.4 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
"I thought (the opening run) was very important; it set the stage, set the tempo of the game," said Scranton Prep coach Joe Ferguson.
"We had to establish our tempo. We were a little bit more concerned about us establishing the tempo and the speed of the game, and that's what we did," Ferguson added.
Despite the early dry spell, the Panthers still had plenty of basketball to play. But even when their shots began to fall, the Cavaliers were able to answer on the other end of the court.