Third time’s a charm. At least it was for the Susquehanna Sabers in the Lackawanna League Division IV title game against Mountain View on Saturday in Carbondale.
Susquehanna got ahead early and had a key run late to capture their second consecutive title with a 43-40 win over the Eagles.
Mountain View had defeated the Sabers both times the teams met during the regular season. The Eagles rallied from two losses to finish the season 9-3 and tied with the Sabers.
Adam Rockwell scored 7 points in the first quarter to lead the Sabers to a first quarter advantage.
Both teams struggled in the second quarter with turnovers and Susquehanna took a three-point lead at the half.
“Both teams are evenly matched and defend well,” said Susquehanna Coach Lawrence Tompkins. “When you are seeing each other for the third time there are not a lot of surprises.”
The third quarter was another defensive standoff. Each team hounded the other but Mountain View cut the deficit to trail 26-24 heading into the final stanza.
After trading baskets in the first few possessions of the fourth quarter, Susquehanna went on a 7-0 run to break open the game.
Canyon Stone ignited the run when he drove and converted a traditional three-point play. Stone then had a steal and in transition Bryce Baldwin converted a put back.
Baldwin – who struggled offensively in the first half – credited his teammates and coaches for his second half resurgence. “My teammates and Coach Tompkins told me to just keep my head up and play the way I know I can,” said Baldwin.
But Mountain View wouldn’t go away. Mikey Schermerhorn, like so many other times during the season, put the Eagles on his back and rallied. He knocked down three shots behind the arc in the final two-and-a-half minutes.
“He’s the best player in our division this year,” said Tompkins. “We made a concentrated effort to slow him down early, but in the end, we focused on keeping everything in front of us and not fouling jump shooters.”
“The (Susquehanna) defense was much tighter, especially in the first three quarters,” said Schermerhorn. “But I was able to get some better looks in the final two minutes.”
Susquehanna’s Mason Deakin went 4-4 from the free throw line down the stretch to preserve the win for Susquehanna.
“In every close game it usually comes down to foul shots at the end, and we hit those and that’s what helped us seal the game,” Deakin said.
“We played well enough to win,” said Mountain View coach Joe Gibbons. “We just didn’t make enough plays and Susquehanna did.”
Baldwin led the way for Susquehanna with 13 points while Deakin finished with 12 and Rockwell 9.
Schermerhorn led all scorers with 16 and was joined in double figures by Fanelli who had 10 for Mountain View.
The title is the second in a row for the Sabers and Tompkins complimented his seniors for taking on the expectations and the challenges the season presented.
“This group put in a lot of unseen hours,” said Tompkins. “It started when they were freshmen coming in before school to get better, working as a group on their own to develop.”
“Coach is always telling us everything’s hard before it’s easy, and we lived by that,” added Deakin.