Tigers capture Invitational title
CATAWISSA R.R. - Southern Columbia coach Dave Yost couldn't say enough about his team.
North Schuylkill coach Curt Ziegmont couldn't say enough to his team.
That was the story after the Tigers came up with their second straight defensive gem in a row to down the Spartans, 59-44, in the championship game of the first Varsity-Junior Varsity Holiday Invitational Tournament Sunday at Southern.
Southern (3-2), except for a brief period in which the Tigers gave up the lead in the third quarter, controlled the pace and flow from the start against the Spartans (6-2). The Tigers shot 57 percent from the floor (25 of 44), forced 20 turnovers and actually shut North Schuylkill out in the last quarter.
In their two tournament games, the Tigers forced 47 turnovers, had 29 steals, shot 54 percent from the floor and had three players score in double figures each game.
"I couldn't be any happier with where we're at right now," said Yost. "We're still an inexperienced team, which is why I sometimes get emotional and try to direct traffic from the bench. We lack enough experience that I worry we might melt down in the heat of the moment when we get tested. But we
showed a lot of character tonight when they cut it close."
In fact, North Schuylkill, which trailed all through the first half by as many as seven points, took a 42-41 lead midway through the third quarter when Yost called timeout and made a subtle change.
"We were playing a softer zone and they were starting to hurt us inside," Yost said. "We made them play a little further from the basket, and I think they got gassed a little bit."
Southern closed the quarter with a 10-2 run for a 51-44 lead, then shut out the Spartans 8-0 in the final quarter as North Schuylkill began throwing the ball around, and the proverbial lid went on the Spartans' basket.
"You've covered it all," Ziegmont said when given the litany of mistakes the Spartans made at the end. "It was all mental stuff. We got a good reality check."
Ziegmont and his assistant coaches had a long postgame talk with the team, trying to prepare what is a pretty good team for the rigors of the upcoming Schuylkill League schedule.
"We had good effort from everybody, including the guys off the bench," Yost said. "Luke Rarig saw his first action and played well, and (freshman) Walker Palacz came in and gave us some quality minutes."
Southern not only placed three players in double figures, but all three were in that category by halftime. Bryce Parry scored 13 of his 19 points, Matt Klock 10 of his 16 and Mike Klebon 10 of his 12 as Southern built a 35-30 lead. Parry made 8 of 11 shots and Klock 8 of 10, and Klebon had five assists.
"I've never seen so many layups," Ziegmont said. "They beat us down the court a couple of times for easy baskets."
North Schuylkill's inside duo of Pat Walsh and Jake Damiter brought the Spartans back. Damiter finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, and Walsh had 15 points and seven rebounds. But both had the majority of their missed shots toward the end.
"Hopefully we'll learn from it," Ziegmont said.
NORTH SCHUYLKILL (44) - Hughes 1 0-0 3, Meyer 1 0-0 2, Howard 0 0-0 0, Stokes 2 0-0 4, Walsh 7 0-2 15, Ennis 1 0-0 2, Manbeck 1 0-2 2, Damiter 5 6-8 16, Gallagher 0 0-0 0, Grigas 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 6-12 44.
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (59) - Klebon 4 2-2 12, Parry 8 3-3 19, Klock 8 0-0 16, Mostik 2 0-0 4, Young 0 0-0 0, Kleman 2 0-0 4, Olson 0 0-0 0, Woods 0 0-0 0, Palacz 0 0-0 0, Rarig 1 2-3 4. Totals 25 7-8 59.
3-point FGs: North Schuylkill (2) - Hughes, Walsh; Southern (2) - Klebon 2.