SUNBURY — Mount Carmel coach John Lazicki came out of the locker room at Shikellamy High School exasperated.
His Red Tornadoes had prepared hard for another shot at Loyalsock in the Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference Tournament.
“I watched five films, and (Loyalsock’s number) 11 (Eli Gair) and 23 (Rees Watkins), they didn’t do much,” Lazicki said. “I told the guys to play off of the them ... then they hit 3s.”
Loyalsock got 25 points from its bench players and 19 more from Watkins as the Lancers remained undefeated with a 77-63 victory over Mount Carmel at Lockcuff Gymnasium.
Loyalsock (23-0) will face Danville for the HAC title at 8 p.m. on Friday night at Shikellamy. Mount Carmel drops to 17-6 and will be the No. 3 seed in next week’s District 4 Class 3A tournament.
“They have some pretty good athletes on the basketball team. They are always good at basketball,” Mount Carmel forward Tommy Reisinger said. “I believe we can be just as good as them or better if we bring our ‘A’ game.”
That was one of the issues on Wednesday — the Red Tornadoes brought their ‘B’ or ‘B-plus’ game.
“It’s the little things — a turnover or a missed shot, here and there. I can’t fault my kids’ effort, but our execution wasn’t great at all times,” Lazicki said. “We had a key turnover here and missed layup there.”
The Lancers got out to a quick start as Aiden Gair had eight points in an 18-6 spurt to open the game that forced Lazicki into a timeout with three minutes left in the first quarter.
The Red Tornadoes were forced to battle uphill the rest of the game. They cut the margin to four in the second quarter, but the Lancers’ Dominic Jennings answered with a 3-pointer off the bench before Eli Gair knocked down another. By the time Aiden Gair hit a long 3 to end the first half, the Lancers had the lead back to 10 at 40-30.
Mount Carmel hung around for most of the second half, cutting the deficit to 62-56 with 4:18 left in the game when Reisinger scored six points in an 8-0 run. Loyalsock then finished off the Red Tornadoes on the next few possessions.
Saraj Ali scored on a drive, then followed with a three-point play. Watkins gathered an offensive rebound and scored, before Gair made 1-of-2 foul shots with 3:07 left to push the Loyalsock lead to 69-56.
Reisinger finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Mike Balichik scored 12 of his 19 points in the first half. Dylan Pupo had seven of his 11 points in the second half.
The Gair brothers each finished with 12 points for the Lancers, while Rivers Parrish and Jennings each chipped in nine points.
One thing Mount Carmel can look forward to is perhaps another shot at the Lancers in the district playoffs.
“I think we have good feel for them if we make the district final,” Reisinger said. “We know what they like to do, and I think we’ll be ready for them.”
HEARTLAND ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
at Lockcuff Gymnasium, Shikellamy H.S.
LOYALSOCK 77, MOUNT CARMEL 63
Mount Carmel (17-6) 63
Mike Balichik 9 1-4 19; Brock Evert 2 2-4 7; Dylan Pupo 5 0-0 11; Tommy Reisinger 11 1-2 23; Nate Long 1 1-1 3. Totals 28 5-11 63.
3-point goals: Evert, Pupo.
Did not score: Nick Nestico, Damen Milewski, Jeremiah Renno, Julien Stellar, Garrett Varano.
Loyalsock (23-0) 77
Rivers Parrish 4 1-2 9; Aiden Gair 4 1-2 12; Saraj Ali 3 1-4 7; Dane Armson 2 1-2 5; Rees Watkins 7 2-2 19; Julian Wilson 2 0-0 4; Eli Gair 4 3-3 12; Dominic Jennings 3 1-2 9. Totals 29 10-17 77.
3-point goals: A. Gair 3, Watkins 3, Jennings 2, E. Gair.
Did not score: Chase Cavanaugh, Sean Jensen.
Score by quarters
Mount Carmel 16 14 16 17 — 63
Loyalsock 22 18 17 20 — 77