McCaskey pulls away from the Warriors

By on February 1, 2012

By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor bmorgan.eph@lnpnews.com, Staff Writer

When McCaskey’s leading scorer Devonne Pinkard left the game with a finger injury midway through the opening quarter, it wasn’t necessarily a good thing for the Warriors.

Shaki Staten came off the bench for the Red Tornado and scored a team-high 14 points.

"Quite honestly," Warwick coach Jeff Landis commented, "I truly believe they’re at their best when (number) 15 (Staten) is in the game or 10 (Luis Fuentes) is in the game and they’re playing a little smaller. When they’re big, their pressure doesn’t really bother us as much, but with Pinkard getting hurt, they played small all night."

In the end, Staten and Fuentes combined for 25 points, while leading five McCaskey players in double figures, and the Tornado pulled away to a 78-48 victory in a Section One game in Lititz. Calvert Gantz finished with 12 points, Fuentes and Aaron Swinton each dropped in 11, and Diante Cherry added 10.

"That’s the most talented team, including Berks Catholic, that we’ve played all year," Landis said. "Berks Catholic has a better player (Donovon Jack), but McCaskey’s got the best talent we’ve seen all year."

Section One front-runner Manheim Township will now get its chance to see that talent up close. The Tornado (11-2) will now host the Blue Streaks (12-1) in a battle for first place this Friday. Third-place Warwick (8-5 L-L, 9-9 overall), meanwhile, fell three games behind McCaskey with three games remaining for the second and final League playoff berth in Section One.

"They came ready," Landis said of McCaskey. "We’ve had some wins this year that have started to catch some people’s attention and they came in here knowing that if they want to play for first place on Friday, they couldn’t let this slip away."

The Warriors were looking to catch people’s attention again Tuesday night, and they started the game on a 5-0 run, as Derrick Shields scored inside and then Matt Engle hit from beyond the arc. Engle led the Warriors with 14 points and Shields added 13 points.

Gantz’s deuce on an alley-oop pulled the Tornado even, and Engle followed with a layup with 5:15 left in the first quarter to put the Warriors back up 7-5. But that would be their final lead of the night.

McCaskey, forcing nine of Warwick’s 21 turnovers in the first quarter with a full-court press and scoring easy buckets in transition, erupted on a 16-2 run to go in front 21-9 with 1:11 left in the opening stanza. Staten scored six points in that stretch for the Tornado.

"I thought we did some things tonight that were uncharacteristic of us, but I thought McCaskey had a lot to do with that," Landis said. "They’re very quick to the basketball. I didn’t think it was an effort thing. I just think we didn’t do a real good job of getting back in transition and they made us pay."

Still, when Engle scored on a layup at the buzzer, the Warriors were still within nine, 22-13, heading to the second quarter.

But Fuentes knocked down a ‘three’ to start the quarter, and finished with eight points while helping McCaskey outscore the Warriors 15-7 in the period to open up a commanding 37-20 advantage at the half. While McCaskey shot 6-for-13 from the floor in the second quarter against the Warriors’ zone defense, Warwick was only 1-of-12, in addition to going 5-for-9 from the line.

"I will give them credit," Landis said. "They knew we were going to mix our zones up and stuff, so they knew where they had to get."

Colby Weit’s triple to start the third quarter pulled the Warwick boys within 14 points, 37-23, but that’s as close as they would get. McCaskey went on another 16-6 run to make it 53-29 following a layup by Blaise Glover with 1:57 to go in the stanza and that was that.

Unlike their first meeting against the Red Tornado in Lancaster on Jan. 6, when the Warriors trailed by just one at the half, 26-25, McCaskey had the game well in hand for most of the night.

"I think it’s one team in the league that doesn’t scout, so their scouting is the first time they play you," Landis said. "They don’t spend the time to go out and watch you. So the first time you get them, you have a better shot … When they play well, they’re as good as anyone."

Last Friday, Derrick Shields scored a team-high 17 points and the Warwick boys opened up a 33-24 lead after three and then held on to defeat the host Black Knights 46-45.

K’shawn Mickens, Colby Weit and Tyler Morris all connected from downtown, as the Warriors took an 18-15 lead at the half. They extended the lead by outscoring Hempfield 15-9 in the third quarter.

Hempfield’s Drew Johnson led all scorers with 18 points, and Dylan Beacher chipped in with 11 points in the losing cause.

The Warriors were also in action last Wednesday, Jan. 25, getting a game-high 23 points from Shields and hammering the Mountaineers 55-35 in Lititz.

Leading 15-10 after one, the Warwick boys extended their lead to double figures with an 11-5 run in the second quarter.

Ephrata, playing without injured leading scorer Brian Neff, was led by Matthew Herbener, who finished with eight points. More WARRIORS, page B-6

About lititzrecord