The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

February 26, 2014

Boys basketball: Shamokin fends off pesky Jersey Shore

COAL TOWNSHIP — Shamokin’s Jake Weaver realized that the Indians were struggling a bit from the charity stripe against Jersey Shore and he figured it was time to help his team take control for good.

And boy, he did not disappoint.

Weaver ended the night going 10-for-12 from the line, sinking clutch free throws in the fourth quarter, to put Jersey Shore away for good en route to a 7-point win, 61-54, in the District 4 Class AAA semifinals inside Milton’s “Jungle” on Tuesday.

The Indians (21-3) advance to face Central Columbia in the District 4 Class AAA championship game at a time and site to be determined. It’s Shamokin’s first appearance in the District 4 final in five years and guarantees the Indians a trip to the state tournament.

Shamokin knew what they were getting into against Jersey Shore (14-9), a team they beat by seven and five points in their first two meetings, respectively.

“Give them a lot of credit, they’re a very good team. We knew they weren’t going away,” Shamokin coach Chris Zimmerman said. “We had a feeling that they were going to make a little bit of a run, and we made the last one.”

It was a back-and-forth game all night — from the opening tip until the final buzzer sounded — as the two teams exchanged leads a total of 19 times, 11 of which came in the first half.

“I thought it was going to come down to the last seconds (and) someone was going to make that big play,” Weaver said. “I just made my foul shots at the end and we got a win.”

Weaver had a monster night for the Indians, leading the team with 22 points while also dishing out a team-high six assists. Josh Pappas came through with 16 points as well.

“I’m not sure if there’s somebody that works harder than he does,” Zimmerman said of Pappas. “It was all heart and effort today, he did a great job.”

Shamokin held a 27-21 lead late in the second quarter before Jersey Shore responded to make it a 30-29 game, trailing by one heading into halftime.

Four different Bulldogs hit double figures, as Ryan Eck and Zach Miller combined for 30 points — 15 each — while Bordy Smith added 11 and Eric Huling added 10. In addition, Shore had a 36-27 rebounding advantage, as Eck ended his night with a double-double with 11 boards.

Shamokin and Jersey Shore would exchange leads throughout the third quarter and into the fourth. After Zach Moyer hit a huge trey with just two seconds to play in the third to put Shamokin ahead, 45-41, the Bulldogs responded with a 7-0 spurt to begin the fourth quarter, eventually taking a 48-45 lead.

Pappas would come through with a huge 3-pointer to put Shamokin ahead with 4:45 to play, 50-49. Roughly a minute and a half later, however, Smith hit a putback for Shore to give the Bulldogs the 53-52 lead. Pappas came through yet again, this time with a layup not even 15 seconds later to give Shamokin the lead for good, 54-53. After Smith’s putback, Shamokin’s defense wouldn’t allow a basket from the floor the rest of the night.

Jersey Shore never led by more than three points the entire night.

Another big factor for Shamokin was the return of senior standout Austin Stine, who was lost for six weeks with an injury to his wrists. Stine was a starter for the Indians on Tuesday and having him back in the lineup provided a huge spark for the Indians emotionally.

“It’s a big emotional lift for the whole team. Everyone’s excited to have him back,” Weaver said. “He’s the heart of the team, so he gets everyone pumped and we all get going, and that’s kind of what led to the win.”

Stine ended the night with seven points, a team-high seven boards and team-high four blocks, but the senior impacted numerous shots with his height.

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