By Tom Robinson
For The Daily Item
The last of Travis Conrad’s six 3-pointers Saturday was symbolic in nature.
In the final second of his high school career, Conrad reminded everyone that Lewisburg fought to the end against a team that returned the leaders of a run to the state semifinals a year ago.
The first five that Conrad made on the way to 29 points were a big part of allowing the Green Dragons to trade the lead with District 2 champion Holy Cross for much of the way before falling, 60-55, in the PIAA Class AA first-round boys basketball state tournament.
“This is my 16th year as head coach and that may have been one of the best performances I’ve seen,” Lewisburg coach John Vaji said. “He was matched up against Connor Callejas, their second-leading scorer, and he held him to one field goal.
“He was not just doing it on one end.”
Conrad hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the 50 seconds following a Jesse Flannery 3-pointer in the third quarter.
“He was unbelievable,” Holy Cross coach Al Callejas said of Conrad. “We knew he was the main guy we had to stop, particularly outside.
“He put on a show. It was really impressive. We were jumping screens, but he only needed a second to get off a shot with a beautiful arch.”
The 9-0 burst that Flannery and Conrad produced gave Lewisburg its biggest lead of the game, 39-35, with 4:03 left in the third.
Holy Cross answered with its own streak of nine points, holding Lewisburg scoreless for the next nine minutes, forcing the 11th and final lead change to head down the stretch with the lead.
The Crusaders are tough to handle in that situation with teams unable to take the ball away from Callejas, who rarely misses at the line.
Callejas went 6-for-6 to help Holy Cross make all 11 fourth-quarter free throws. The Crusaders finished 18-for-24 at the line while the Green Dragons were just 7-for-16.
“I thought we outplayed them,” Vaji said, repeating a message he delivered to his team minutes earlier. “Our guys listened to the game plan, battled and got open looks.
“The difference — to their credit — is they made 18 free throws to our seven.”
Lewisburg did led by more than two and Holy Cross did not lead by more than four in the first half.
Holy Cross 6-foot-7 senior center Josh Kosin, who had missed all five first-quarter shots, hit all five of in the second quarter. He went on to score 19 points, grab 17 rebounds and block six shots.
“He’s very good,” Vaji said. “I now know why he was first-team all-state last season.”
Lewisburg sent a series of big men at Kosin, using up fouls as he went just 3-for-9 from the line.
“They did a nice job trying to keep guys fresh,” Callejas said. “Josh, to his credit, is in great condition.”
Kosin and Conrad traded shots for much of the middle two quarters with Conrad holding a 16-15 edge in points.
Conrad finished 11-for-18 from the floor, including 6-for-10 on 3-pointers. Flannery added 11 points.
Erich Kline and Sam Allen, who had four assists, grabbed six rebounds each.
Connor Jones came off the bench to score 13 points for Holy Cross.
Jones had five points and Kosin four in the streak that put the Crusaders ahead to stay.