Montoursville keeps WR down after a big start.

By: Jon Gerardi | Williamsport Sun-Gazette | January 20, 2018


A deficit of 20 in the first half didn't necessarily deflate Warrior Run. Granted it wasn't ideal, but this is the same Defenders team that battled back from 27 points down against Hughesville a few days prior.

The Defenders have the ability to rally back against solid teams, but when you struggle shooting early and your opponent is hitting shots, it can come back to hurt you.

Warrior Run scored just two field goals in the first quarter and struggled in the first 16 minutes of the game grabbing rebounds as Montoursville used an early run in the first quarter to get out to a large lead and held off a feisty Warrior Run team, 56-44, at Montoursville on Friday night.

"I knew they'd be ready to play. It's just nice we got out to a good start. We won the first quarter pretty big, after that we didn't play quite as well and they started playing better, so it kind of settled back into a lot closer where it should have been because the first quarter was really not what I was expecting," Montoursville coach Mike Mussina said. "It's good for us, it's another good win."

Montoursville opened the game playing well, going on a 14-0 run before Warrior Run finally scored a basket with 2:35 left in the first.

Warrior Run cut the deficit down to 10 when Luke Burrows scored with 1:57 left in the quarter, but that would be the closest the Defenders came.

Montoursville defended Warrior Run extremely well inside, limiting the Defenders to 16 rebounds — eight per half — and through the third quarter, only allowed Warrior Run to grab one offensive rebound, limiting second chance opportunities.

Montoursville also out-rebounded Warrior Run, 32-16, and held the Defenders to just five offensive boards.

"They rebounded the ball better than us, offensively and defensively," Warrior Run coach Eric Wertman said. "They beat us on the glass all night. You're not going to win when that happens. That's one of the things we've done pretty well all season long. We didn't tonight, so hats off to them."

"We defended pretty well. We contested a lot of shots, made it tough on them," Mussina said. "We probably have them by a couple inches, maybe three out of five guys, and they're still battling hard and getting rebounds in the second half, so you got to hand it to them. Down 18, they're still fighting hard until the very end."

The Defenders scored double digits in each of the final three quarters, including 18 in the fourth, but the four-point first quarter proved tough to come back from.

Cassidy Hoffman led Warrior Run with a 13-point performance and Gage Anzulavich added 12.

"We were playing catch-up right from the beginning. Couldn't really stop them all night," Wertman said. "Game's about stops. We didn't get any."

Like in various games this year, Montoursville's offense spread the ball around throughout the game and had three players in double figures as Owen Kiess and Luke Warnecke both scored 14 and Dylan Bower added 10.

John McCarthy also nearly missed a double-double with eight points and nine rebounds.

"I think at the beginning we surprised them a little bit with how quickly we could get up and down the floor. Luke made some nice pas­ses, handful of assists and a couple guys got the ball to him and he got open look for some threes," Mussina said. "We don't usually have same couple guys doing all the scoring every night and that's really helpful because one person doesn't feel like they have to pour in 20 to give us a chance to win, we just kind of spread it around."

The Warriors led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter before Warrior Run started chipping the deficit down throughout the fourth quarter, getting it down to 12 points twice in the final 40 seconds.

"This is a group that doesn't lay down, doesn't quit, so we just kept emphasizing 'just keep working hard,' Wertman said.