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Fourth-quarter run by Shamokin sets up HAC-I showdown

Jan. 11—COAL TOWNSHIP — Shamokin had a few chances slip through its hands to claim control of Wednesday's Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I showdown with Central Mountain.

Especially to start the second half, where instead of pushing a nine-point lead into double digits, the Indians missed 10 of its first 11 shots, and the Wildcats climbed back within one of Shamokin early in the fourth quarter.

"I don't know if we could missed more layups (in the third quarter)," Shamokin junior Joe Hile said.

However, the Indians — despite no senior starters — have been through enough battles that they bounced back from that slow stretch.

Hile had hand in seven straight points — assists on an inside bucket and 3-pointer by freshman Cru Schroyer, then a driving hoop of his own — to start the deciding run in a 60-49 victory over the Wildcats in a battle of undefeated Division I teams.

"With the schedule we played — our young kids aren't freshmen any more and our juniors (Hile, Jenssyn Shuey and Case Lichty) are like college sophomore with all of their experience," Shamokin coach Chris Zimmerman said. "These guys have played a lot of basketball and I think it just them a more mature team."

The victory sets up another showdown with an undefeated Division I foe. Shamokin (10-4 overall, 3-0 HAC-I) will travel to Selinsgrove (7-3, 2-0), a 72-52 winner over Shikellamy, for a 1:30 p.m. tip on Saturday afternoon.

"We are in the same position we were last year. We beat Central Mountain at home, but then we didn't play well at Selinsgrove (a 42-41 Seals win last season)," Zimmerman said. "We feel like are nonleague schedule has us as a better team (this season). We have to enjoy the win, but we have to get focused (Thursday), and be better prepared for Saturday than we were last season."

It look like the Indians had shaken off their poor start to the second half. Mason Verelli's 3-pointer off a feed from Blake Walker with about two minutes left in the third period to cut the Shamokin lead to 34-33, capping a stretch by Walker where had four points, three assists and two steals to help the Central Mountain cause.

Shamokin's Rylan Price scored all seven of his points following Verelli's bucket to give Shamokin a 37-32 lead, but a five points in the final 16 seconds of the third quarter had Central Mountain still within a point to open the final stanza.

Caleb Mahoney's drive early in the fourth still had Central Mountain down by one, but that's when Shamokin took over. The seven straight points that Hile had a hand in started a 15-2 run for the Indians that turned the 43-42 lead into a 58-44 advantage with two minutes left in the game.

"We have a lot of confidence in the younger guys. We always say our best shot is the open shot. Your getting the ball in rhythm," Hile said. "We don't care who is taking the shot, just so we get the best shot."

Shuey capped the spurt with back-to-back buckets to put a cap on an 18-point, 10-rebounds double-double for Shamokin.

"I don't think it's any secret that we want to work the ball inside-out with either Jennsyn or Joe," Zimmerman said.

Hile added 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and sophomore Andrew Leffler had 10 points and seven rebounds. In fact, Shamokin got 17 points off the bench as Schroyer finished with seven points as well.

Hunter Hoy had 21 points to lead the Wildcats (8-3, 2-1), and Shamokin limited Central Mountain's second-leading scorer Xavier Persun (13 points per game, 29 3-pointers) to just two points and no 3-pointers.

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SHAMOKIN 60, CENTRAL MOUNTAIN 49

Central Mountain (8-3) 49

Brady Myers 2 2-2 6; Hunter Hoy 8 3-3 21; Caleb Mahoney 1 0-0 2; Blake Walker 3 0-0 7; Xavier Persun 1 0-0 2; Mason Verelli 3 0-0 8; Dominic Longworth 1 0-0 3. Totals 19 5-5 49.

3-point goals: Hoy 2, Verelli 2, Walker, Longworth.

Did not score: Jeremy Reese, Conner Foltz, Kevin Grenninger.

Shamokin (10-4) 60

Rylan Price 3 0-0 7; Joe Hile 6 0-1 13; Colin Steinhart 1 1-2 3; Case Lichty 1 0-0 2; Jenssyn Shuey 9 0-0 18; Cru Schroyer 3 0-0 7; Andrew Leffler 5 0-0 10. Totals 28 1-3 60.

3-point goals: Price, Hile, Schroyer.

Did not score: none.

Score by quarters

Central Mountain;14;9;17;9 — 49

Shamokin;17;13;11;19 — 60