Indians rally past Barons in second half

By on March 4, 2015
Matt Walsh, who led the Barons with 14 points, drives against In¬dian defender Nehemiah Mack. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Matt Walsh, who led the Barons with 14 points, drives against In¬dian defender Nehemiah Mack. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Remember those Philadelphia Eagles’ defenses from the Buddy Ryan era in the early 90’s which routinely pinned opponents in their own territory?
Early in the second half last Thursday night, they re-appeared on the basketball court wearing Susquehanna Township jerseys.
“Shoot, for the first four minutes, it was like the Eagle defense that had Jerome Brown and Reggie White,” Manheim Central coach Chris Sherwood said. “We couldn’t get across midfield.”
The Indians’ swarming D forced several Baron turnovers in the opening minutes of the third quarter, propelling them on a quick 10-0 run and erasing a 22-15 deficit to the Central boys.
In the end, Susquehanna Township outscored MC 20-3 in the period to grab a lead they never lost en route to a 49-35 victory in the District Three Triple-A third-fourth place game at Milton Hershey. Quintin Ward and Nehemiah Mack finished with 20 and 16 points, respectively, to lead the No. 1-seeded Indians (20-6).
After committing just four giveaways in the first half while taking a seven-point lead at the break, the No. 3-seeded Barons (24-4) had nine total turnovers in the second half.
“If you went into the locker room right now and looked at our keys to winning, our keys were no turnovers and no second shots,” said Sherwood, whose Barons will play District Two runner-up Wilkes-Barre GAR (21-5) in their State first-round game this Friday at 6 p.m. at Wyoming Area High School in Exeter. “So there you go. It took the life out of us then, but our guys were battling. It’s not easy to play a third-fourth place game when your expectations are high. It wasn’t easy for them either. But what we did is we gave them momentum by turning the ball over.”
Matt Walsh, a 6-foot-5 senior, finished with a team-high 14 points, while adding nine rebounds, and Taylor Funk, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, collected a game-high 13 boards and chipped in with six points and three blocks to pace the Barons.
Funk had nine of his rebounds in the first half and Dan Wiederrecht’s trey snapped a 6-6 tie and helped the Barons take a 10-8 edge after one.
Ward netted the Indians’ first 10 points and cut MC’s lead to three early in the second quarter. But Walsh made his presence felt, sandwiching two layups around a block, to put the Barons up 17-10.
Mack’s triple and a putback by Joe Marshall got the Indians within three points, 17-15, with 1:44 left in the half. Over the first two quarters, however, the Barons had a 22-17 edge on the glass, and Walsh’s putback &tstr; following a trey by Blake Reiff &tstr; gave Central a 22-15 lead at the intermission.
The Barons shot 9-of-25 from the field (36 percent) in the first half, while Susquehanna Township was 7-of-32 (22 percent).
“The key to getting the first half lead was rebounding the basketball,” Sherwood said. “I thought we limited, we limited, their second shots. And also, they missed some shots. Obviously you need a good team to miss some shots, and they missed some shots. But the key was, what did we have, four turnovers in the first half?”
The Central boys equaled that number early in the third, as Ward and Roman Letterlough combined for eight points in a 10-0 Indian run which gave them a lead they never relinquished.
“What we did,” Sherwood said, “is we gave them momentum by turning the ball over. We tell our guys all the time, ‘If you get a five-second call, I’m fine with that. If you get a 10-second call because the ball doesn’t get across half-court, I’m fine with that. If you throw them the ball, that leads to points.’ We threw them the ball and we didn’t rebound.”
Tony Staffieri’s drive snapped an 0-for-5 drought from the field for the Barons and sliced the Indians’ lead to 31-25 with 2:01 left in the third. Susquehanna Township answered, though, behind Ward, who scored the final four points of the period, including a putback at the buzzer which extended their lead back to double digits, 35-25, heading to the final stanza.
There, Mack’s floater with 5:30 remaining gave the Indians their biggest lead of the night, 39-25.
Central got back within nine, 46-35, on a ‘three’ by Blake Reiff with 1:00 to go, but it wasn’t enough.
It marked the first time Manheim Central lost back-to-back games since falling to Susquehanna Township in last year’s District finals, followed by a loss to Archbishop Wood in the PIAA first round.
“We’re playing some really good teams,” Sherwood said. “We just lost to the No. 1 and No. 2 seed in District Three. I guess we have a week to try to put ourselves in a position where we can win some games in States.”
Sherwood and the Barons were welcoming an eight-day break prior to playing Wilkes-Barre GAR this Friday night.
“These guys need to recharge their batteries,” Sherwood said. “You need a little bit of time. I’m giving my guys off (Friday), Saturday and Sunday. We’ve been running them ragged. They are tired. They’re kids. So yeah, I like having that time off.”


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