Whitehall-Coplay Press

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Boys start off well

Thursday, December 12, 2019 by Steve andres Special to the Press in Sports

On the strength of their robust first half, Loyalsock held off the charging Zephyrs boys basketball team to win the championship of the Loyalsock Tip-Off Tournament that opened the season for both teams.

The Zephyrs outscored the Lancers by six in the final two quarters, but weren’t able to bridge the gap created by a 41-point outburst in the first half by the host team. At one point in the fourth quarter, head coach Jeff Jones said that they were able to cut the lead to nine points, but that was the closest they came as the Lancers won 83-71.

That 41 first half total by Loyalsock matched the game output by Aiden Gair who knocked down eight threes and was named the tourney’s MVP.

The Zephyrs finished the tourney 1-1, defeating Wellsboro 54-38 on Friday night to reach the finals.

After they emerged from their opening weekend in Williamsport, Jones said that the experience answered some early questions.

“I think we found some things out,” said Jones.

He said that the biggest takeaway was that he had “a group of kids that compete like crazy.”

“I loved how competitive we were and how hard we played,” said Jones.

That was evident after falling behind by 18 points heading into the break. Still, they chipped away, eventually cutting it to a three-possession game in the fourth.

“They never gave up,” said Jones. “The way we kept fighting, I was pretty impressed with that.”

But Loyalsock found the antidote in Gair who was on fire from the field. Jones said that they played some zone, stuck him against man coverage, even switching defenders at times, but the senior just kept drilling treys despite a hand in his face.

Jones said that the 6-3 Gair was scoring on drives to the basket as well as spotting up from beyond the arc. Jones aid he’s a physical player who was just in a zone that night.

Jones said that their trio of returning senior starters established themselves as the primary weapons on offense. In the finals, Joe Lisicky had 28 points to lead the team, while Tyler Holubowski netted 15 and Dylan McGinley finished with 10. Additionally, Hunter Pinkey and Lucas Gilbert each connected from beyond the arc.

Another takeaway from the game was the performance of sophomore Tommy Buskirk. Jones said that he was “pleasantly surprised” with his offensive contribution, scoring 8 points in his first game as a varsity player.

“If Tommy gets us eight points a game, that’s a really nice bonus,” said Jones.

Jones said that Loyalsock began pressing from the opening tip. That disruption proved effective in their win to reach the finals, but the Zephyrs weren’t flustered by the pressure. He said they handled it well, forcing the Lancers to abandon the tactic.

“I was very pleased with that,” he said.

The Zephyrs now venture into league play with a game against Northampton on Tuesday. Jones said that their experience over the weekend will reaffirm to the players that they can compete with anyone. Last year the Kids took both games, and Jones is looking forward to the rematch.

Both games last season were competitive, with the Kids winning the pair by a combined 12 points.

“It’s a game you’d like to have to start the league season,” said Jones.