By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
As the horn sounded to end the first quarter, the Lourdes boys walked to their bench and noticed they held a seven-point lead against a talented Muncy squad. That lead was slowly chopped away, however, in the second quarter as the Indians got scoring from just about every player they had on the court.
That first-quarter lead became a 22-all tie when Muncy junior center Nick Ring hit a nice turnaround jumper with 15 seconds to play in the half.
The Indians came out in the third quarter and started playing more physical inside, taking away that inside presence and forcing Our Lady of Lourdes to shoot outside. The shots weren’t falling, though, and the Red Raiders could do little as the Indians won the District 4 Class A third-place game, 51-46, on Friday night in “The Jungle” at Milton High School.
The loss eliminates Lourdes from the playoffs; Muncy clinched a state tournament berth with the win.
“I thought we could score on them in the open court. We did and they slowed it down a little bit in the half court and got it to the big kid (Ring),” Lourdes coach Pete Long said. “Our two biggest problems were (Ring) and putting the ball in the hole. ... That’s what it comes down to. Inside, (Ring) killed us. Every time we made a run, he came up with a basket. We couldn’t find the hole, unfortunately.”
Ring ended the night with a double-double of 21 points and 11 boards, and routinely found himself in the paint to grab an offensive rebound and put it back up for a basket.
“He’s definitely somebody you have to be aware of, let’s put it that way,” Muncy coach Jason Gresh said with a smile. “They struggled with him. He went hard after it, got the ball (and) did something with it. We did a good job of penetrating the zone and then finding him or getting a shot up and he did a good job of getting in position to get the rebound.”
Anthony Pennypacker (14 points, six rebounds) helped keep Lourdes Regional in the game with a nice basket at the 2:36 mark of the third quarter to once again tie the game at 26-all. However, Muncy went on a 6-0 run from there to put the Red Raiders into a hole. Muncy’s size, particularly Ring, that hurt Lourdes.
“We’ve had a matchup with every big kid this year. ... We usually found a way around it athletically,” Long said. “They’re tall enough to throw overtop our trap, which I thought they did well. That was a big problem.”
Lourdes Regional had a 7-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to cut the Muncy lead from 11 to just four, but the Red Raiders went cold from there. Lourdes didn’t score again until 1:46 remained when Zack Oquendo (15 points, nine rebounds) hit a putback to cut the deficit to seven, 46-39.
“I thought we did a good job of getting out and running. I thought we wore them down,” Gresh said. “I think that was a big key. Early we got out in the first half we got out-ran a little bit and then wore them down.”