First Posted: 3/9/2013
Old Forge’s defense was causing problems on the perimeter and in transition.
The Blue Devils were converting more consistently on the offensive end.
Ultimately, however, they could not solve one big problem.
Lyndon Ewing, Pius X’s 6-foot-6 junior center, created a matchup Old Forge could not handle and helped the Royals hang on for a 50-47 victory in a PIAA Class A boys basketball tournament opener Friday night at Lackawanna College.
Old Forge took its only lead since the first quarter when Ewing was called for goaltending on a Brenden Wahl drive with 59 seconds left.
Ewing made up for it by hitting the game’s final four points, converting all his free throw attempts in the final 53 seconds.
He provided 14 of his 18 points and six of his nine rebounds in the second half when Old Forge was assuming command of the other phases of the game while trying to recover from a seven-point halftime deficit.
“We got caught behind him a couple of times, which we didn’t want to do,” Old Forge coach Al Semenza said. “We wanted to front him.”
Ewing helped the District 11 runner-up Royals improve to 21-3 and advance to Tuesday’s second round.
“He made a lot of big foul shots at the end of the game,” Pius X coach A.J. DePue said.
They were needed after Old Forge fought its way back late.
Pius X built the lead as high as nine points in the second and third quarter and was ahead by seven with six minutes left.
Old Forge, the District 2 champion which finished 13-13, took the lead with a 10-2 run on which Wahl drove to the basket for the last four points.
“The kids played as hard as they could play,” Semenza said. “We had a tough week of practice. Wahl hurt his ankle and we didn’t know if he was going to be able to play.
“To have a one-point lead with a little time left, we gave ourselves a great opportunity.”
Old Forge hit its first three shots. Jake Manetti’s 3-pointer gave the Blue Devils a 5-2 lead and Brian Tomasetti’s second basket made it 7-5.
Pius X answered with an 8-2 run and did not trail again until the final minute.
The Royals opened the second quarter with seven straight points in the first 2:21 for a 20-11 lead.
Tomasetti, who finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, kept the Blue Devils in the game.
While his teammates struggled to shoot 3-for-11 in the first half, Tomasetti was 6-for-11 and scored 12 of the team’s 19 points.
Jimmie Aversa hit a 3-pointer to finish a stretch of seven straight points in just 1:22 to cut the gap to 38-37 late in the third quarter.
Anthony Holmes added 13 points for Pius X.
Jake Manetti had 10 points for Old Forge. Wahl added eight points, five assists and three steals.
The undefeated Old Forge girls team played Highpoint Baptist Academy Saturday night in a first round 1A state tournament game.