COAL TOWNSHIP - If Pottsville and Shamokin go on to win their respective league and district titles, they'll both look back on the Crimson Tide's 43-38 win in a non-league matchup Monday at Shamokin as a key game.

The road is likely to be a little tougher for the Indians, though. Shamokin (10-1), which lost for the first time, will likely have to spend several weeks, if not the rest of the season, without its leading scorer and rebounder, Austin Stine, who went high for a rebound in the first two minutes of the game and landed awkwardly. Stine was taken for X-rays and, according to Shamokin coach Chris Zimmerman, may have broken bones in his wrist or wrists. Even without Stine, the Indians and the Tide, who were playing without Eli Nabholz (concussion) battled each other tooth and nail on every possession for 32 minutes.

Shamokin, which made just 3 of 21 shots in the first half, managed to hang tough and trailed by just one point, 39-38, with 29.5 seconds left when Pottsville called timeout after a Shamokin basket. Jordan Melochick then sank four straight foul shots on two possessions, making him 9 for 9, to clinch the win for Pottsville (11-2).

Travis Blankenhorn, with 19 points and eight rebounds, was too much inside for

Shamokin without Stine, especially in the first half, when Blankenhorn, scored 12 of the Tide's 24 points, and Melochick finished with 15 points.

"We've had to adapt our game a little without Eli Nabholz," said Pottsville coach Dave Mullaney. "He gives us another scorer, but we feel we have three guys who can score, especially in the halfcourt.

"I think both teams played extremely hard. This was probably our best overall defensive effort of the year, and I can't say enough about how hard Shamokin played. They're coached really well. Playing here tonight was like us playing at Blue Mountain. That's what it was like."

"Our kids played with a lot of heart and so did theirs," Zimmerman said. "It wasn't the prettiest game to watch on both ends, but when you play as hard as both teams did, that's what's going to happen sometimes. That's the name of the game.

"Their defense is as good as anybody we play. If anybody we play plays better halfcourt defense I want to know where they are."

Shamokin understandably took some time to get going after Stine's injury, and Pottsville took a seven-point lead in the first quarter, 12-5, with the Indians making just 1 of 10 shots. The lead was still seven at halftime, 24-17, and still seven after three quarters, 31-24.

Pottsville went up by nine, 35-26, early in the fourth quarter, but Shamokin quickly came back with a three-pointer. That set up a battle of wits and timeouts between the teams and coaches the rest of the way.

Dan Delbaugh and Jakob Weaver scored 13 and 10 points, respectively, to lead the Indians.

Game Summary

POTTSVILLE (43) - Hinchcliffe 1 1-3 3, Painter 1 2-3 4, Blankenhorn 7 4-4 19, Toomey 1 0-0 2, Melochick 3 9-9 15, Dunkel 0 0-0 0, Witman 0 0-0 0, Hampford 0 0-1 0. Totals 13 16-20 43.

SHAMOKIN (38) - Sebasovich 2 1-1 5, Weaver 3 2-2 10, Delbaugh 3 5-9 13, Stine 0 0-0 0, Pappas 2 0-0 4, DiRienzo 0 0-0 0, Reiprich 1 0-0 2, Taylor 1 0-0 2, Moyer 1 0-0 2, Donahue 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 8-12 38.

3-point FGs: Pottsville (1) - Blankenhorn; Shamokin (4) - Weaver 2, Delbaugh 2.

JV score: Pottsville 42-39