H.S. BOYS BASKETBALL: GAR ends Shamokin's season
SUNBURY - Chris Zimmerman called Isaiah Francis "a handful."
He had every right. The Shamokin Area head coach had a birdseye view Friday night at Shikellamy High School when Francis burned the nets for 25 points as Wilkes-Barre GAR knocked the Indians out of the PIAA Class AAA state playoffs with a 61-49 opening-round victory.
Francis, however, wasn't the only Grenadier to cause problems for Shamokin.
Guards Jahlil Harvey and James Holmes added 15 and 11 points, respectively, and 6-foot-7 junior center Nigebo Francis, while only contributing five points, blocked five shots, pulled down 10 rebounds and effectively took away the Indians' ability to drive the paint.
"The bottom line," Zimmerman said, "is they have a bunch of good players, and that No. 1 (Isaiah Francis) is a handful.
"He not only scored, but he was finding (James) Holmes open for threes."
The loss ends a turnaround season for Shamokin, which improved from 5-17 last year to 22-4 this year, including winning its first District 4 championship since 2009.
The Indians trailed by only a point, 14-13, after a back-and-forth first quarter, but GAR opened the second with a 9-3 run and never again trailed.
"At the start, I think we were feeding off the energy in the building," Zimmerman said. "They were bigger and faster than us, but we've played other teams that are bigger and faster than us this season.
"Intimidated is not a word we talk about. We got a little cold there."
Down 30-22 at the break, Shamokin cut into that lead several times, getting it to 33-29 and 40-36 on two occasions in the third quarter.
"We just couldn't get over the hump," Zimmerman said. "I think we got a little too much in panic mode.
"We were in too much of a hurry sometimes on offense. When you're down six, there is no 6-point play. When you're down eight, there is no eight-point play. We got a little bit off our game."
With Shamokin down seven, 43-36, after three quarters, the final eight minutes became a free-throw shooting contest, with each team hitting just two field goals during that time.
The Grenadiers, however, knocked down 14 of 23 free throws in the fourth to increase their lead.
Sophomore point guard Jake Weaver paced the Shamokin offense with 19 points. Austin Stine, in his third game back from injury, was the only other Indian in double figures, scoring 10.
GAR advances to meet District 12 champion Neumann-Goretti, a 62-46 winner over Berks Catholic in another opening-round contest. That game will be Tuesday, with site and time to be determined.
GAR (61) - I. Francis 8 9-17 25, Harvey 3 8-12 15, Holmes 4 0-0 11, N. Francis 2 1-2 5, Rush 0 1-4 1, Skrepenak 2 0-0 4. Totals 19 19-35 61.
SHAMOKIN (49) - Sebasovich 2 1-3 6, Weaver 5 8-11 19, Stine 3 3-4 10, Pappas 1 2-2 5, Reiprich 1 1-2 3, Taylor 0 2-4 2, Moyer 0 2-2 2, Donahue 0 0-0 0 , DiRienzo 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 19-28 49.
3-point FGs: Harvey, Holmes 3, Sebasovich, Weaver, Stine, Pappas.