MCA ready for playoffs
MOUNT CARMEL - Mount Carmel declared itself ready for District 4 play Friday night.
And it wasn't a verbal declaration.
The Red Tornadoes (13-9) did it on the court, between the lines, with a gritty season-ending 50-46 victory over backyard rival Shamokin.
It was their first victory over the Indians since the 2002-03 season and it provides momentum head coach John Lazicki hopes carries over into a successful Class AA playoff run.
"It's huge any time you beat a rival like that," Lazicki said. "It's really huge now.
"This is going to help us prepare. This is going to keep us focused."
It was the kind of game that's been fairly common in the series - close, down to the wire - in spite of the the Indians' dominance in the wins column.
And for most of the night, it was anybody's game.
The Indians (5-17), with freshman Ryan Sebasovich scoring all 10 of his points in the first quarter, rolled out to an 18-9 advantage.
Mount Carmel, with sophomore Zach Tocyloski scoring 10 of his game-high 18 in the second quarter, pulled even at 27 by the half.
Then, there were seven lead changes in the third quarter and one more in the fourth before the Red Tornadoes took the lead for good when Rob Varano's jumper in the paint made it 48-46 with 51 seconds to play.
Elijah Duran knocked down a pair of free throws with eight seconds left to cinch the victory.
And while that final little burst won the game for Mount Carmel, it was the second quarter, when the Indians were outscored 18-9 after taking a similar lead in the first eight minutes, that caused Shamokin coach Chris Zimmerman the most concern.
"It's been that way all year for us," Zimmerman said. "There's been a stretch in every game when we struggle and wonder how we're going to score."
At the same time, Zimmerman liked his team's effort, both tonight and throughout a tough season.
"I'm really proud of these kids," he said. "It would have been easy for them to just pack it in when things got tough for us.
"Was that good enough? No. ... But we competed. We played hard."
Tocyloski finished with four field goals - all from beyond the arc - and was a perfect 6-for-6 at the foul line to lead all scorers.
Ray Heromin, who knocked down a big 3-pointer with just under two minutes left in the game to tie the score at 46, was next with 10 for Mount Carmel.
"My guys, I give them all kind of credit for this win," Lazicki said. "Our senior leadership is great, and that's why we are where we are.
"Our egos are small, our hearts are big. They don't care if we're leading or down 2 or 10, they keep playing hard."
Shamokin got a monster game from junior Austin Stine, who led the team with 14 points and pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds.
SHAMOKIN (46) - Sebasovich 4 0-1 10, Weaver 2 2-2 7, Delbaugh 0 0-0 0, Stine 5 4-4 14, Pappas 3 0-0 8, Yost 3 0-1 7, Taylor 0 0-0 0, Reiprich 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 6-8 46.
MOUNT CARMEL (50) - Varano 3 1-2 7, Heromin 4 0-0 10, Kwiatkowski 0 1-2 1, Beierschmitt 0 0-0 0, Duran 1 3-4 5, Tocyloski 4 6-6 18, Scicchitano 2 1-5 5, Kelly 1 0-2 2. Totals 16 12-21 50.
3-point FGs: Sebasovich 2, Pappas 2, Weaver, Yost, Tocyloski 4, Heromin 2.