By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
SUNBURY -- Shikellamy wasted pretty much no time in celebrating its victory in the locker room after downing Jersey Shore on Friday night. Once behind the closed doors, the team was on cloud nine and coach Tim Foor even got in on it, doing the "Gangnam Style" dance for his team.
It was the kind of win that you need to lift a team a little after a tough loss and give you confidence again.
"We were all very, very excited," Shikellamy junior guard C.J. Tyler said. "We knew it was big. We knew we needed this one. (It's) very exciting."
After an extremely lopsided loss earlier this week to Danville, what the Braves needed was to respond with a win, and did they ever.
Shikellamy erased a huge 16-point deficit in the second quarter and made a great comeback win at the Shikellamy Field House against the Bulldogs, 57-54, in a Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I game.
"I can't be more proud (of this team)," Foor said. "They showed a lot of mental toughness down the stretch. It's a big win for our program right now."
Jersey Shore (7-6, 4-3) opened the first quarter with a 6-0 run as the Braves (7-6, 5-2) committed five turnovers in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the game and attempted just one single shot in the first four minutes. The Braves' first points from the floor came at 2:26 as the team then trailed by eight.
Shikellamy routinely cut the deficit into single-digits late in the second quarter only to see the Bulldogs increase it.
The Braves played aggressive in the final quarter and started going after loose balls and forcing key turnovers, as the Bulldogs committed 12, to start to turn the tide.
"We always try to play with some energy. That's what we've been trying to do and getting loose balls is a big thing with that," C.J. Tyler said. "Once you do that, you kind of get excited. Everyone gets motivated and we were ready to go and get the win."
The biggest turnover of the night came just inside of the 2-minute mark as Jersey Shore's Steven Baier attempted to pass to his teammate along the baseline. He read his teammate wrong though and his pass ended up sailing out of bounds.
Shikellamy then got possession and just a few seconds later, Ernie Tyler (15 points) drained a huge 3-pointer with 1:43 to play to put the Braves ahead for the first time all night, 50-47. Taylor Mantz (11 points) sank two key free throws before Tyler's trey to tie the game up at 47-all.
"We all played really hard. We never gave up. Everyone contributed and we had to do it little by little," C.J. Tyler said. "We just tried to go on runs, get a stop and score. We managed to do that pretty well throughout the rest of the game after that first quarter. We started to make our way back."
Once the Braves established the lead with 1:42 to play, they never relinquished it. The Bulldogs cut it down to just two points thanks to a big 3-pointer by Cody Confair (team-high 17 points), but the Braves' free throw shooting failed to allow Jersey Shore to gain any ground.
As a team, Shikellamy shot nearly 84 percent (26 for 31) from the line as C.J. Tyler (23 points, five boards) went 9 for 10, Mantz went 7 for 9 and Ernie Tyler was a perfect 6 for 6. In the fourth quarter alone, Shikellamy was 11 for 12.
The Braves led by as much as five points twice in the final minute and outscored Jersey Shore by 10 in the fourth.
The Shikellamy offense struggled in the first half, going just 5 for 19 from the field while its opposition was 12 for 25.
Foor didn't have to tell his team what to do though to respond in the second half. Instead, his team came out and knew it had to step it up against a talented Jersey Shore team.
"I think with the fourth-quarter comeback like this, hopefully they get some of their confidence back and move on from there," Foor said.