HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: Indiana boys pass test in section opener
Unbeaten Indiana cranked up the defensive intensity late and crippled Highlands in the fourth quarter to notch a 58-50 win in a WPIAL Section 1-AAA boys’ basketball game Tuesday at Fifth Street Gymnasium.
Kaison Branch made five 3-point field goals and scored 18 points in the first quarter to help the Rams take a six-point lead, 25-19.
Indiana held Branch scoreless in the second quarter and limited Highlands to just nine points to cut its halftime deficit to one point, 34-33.
The Rams answered Indiana’s 10-0 third-quarter run with a 10-0 burst of their own late in the quarter that gave them a three-point lead, 46-43.
Kevin Jack notched steals on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter to spark a 10-2 spurt that gave Indiana a 53-48 lead. Jack scored seven of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, and Indiana outscored Highlands, 15-4.
“The guys played so hard they willed themselves to this victory,” Indiana coach Greg Lezanic said. “It was the section opener and we didn’t look our sharpest but the guys willed themselves to this win. Our defense really turned the tide of the game early in the fourth quarter. It led to a bunch of easy shots that helped us pull away.”
Branch made no 3s after the first quarter and finished with 20 points.
“They’re a very athletic team and we knew he was their scorer,” Lezanic said of Branch. “He hit four 3s before we even thought about guarding him, and I say that tongue-in cheek because we knew what to expect from him.
“Fortunately we did a much better job on him the last three quarters.”
Blake Shields paced Indiana with 13 points. Riley Stapleton tacked on 10 points.
Indiana (5-0) travels to Punxsutawney tonight.
SALTSBURG 65, PURCHASE LINE 55: Saltsburg jumped out to a 15-point first-quarter lead and never let up en route to a win over host Purchase Line in a Heritage Conference game.
Steve Richards scored nine points in the first quarter, and Ian Satler chipped in six, and the Trojans bolted to a 19-4 lead.
Saltsburg outscored Purchase Line in each of the second and third quarters and carried an 18-point lead, 48-30, into the fourth quarter.
“We dug ourselves quite a bit of a hole and it was tough to get out of,” Purchase Line coach Steve Woodrow said. “It was pretty even the whole second half. That first quarter just killed us.”
Richards drained a season-high six 3s and scored a game-high 23 points, and Satler added 16 points.
Taylor Antisdel scored 16 points to lead Purchase Line. Dan Learn tacked on 10 points.
Both teams play Thursday. Purchase Line (1-2) travels to United, and Saltsburg (2-4) plays host to Homer-Center.
DuBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC 72, MARION CENTER 67: DuBois Central Catholic made the majority of its free throws down the stretch and held off a strong push from host Marion Center to earn a win in a non-conference game.
The Stingers used a 16-9 run to the tie the game, 60-60, midway through the fourth quarter. DuBois Central Catholic answered and made 7 of 10 foul shots to finish the game on a 12-7 spurt.
Marion Center’s Todd Fetsko, who fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, scored a season-high 32 points. Jake Bothell added a season-best 24 points.
Marion Center (2-3) travels to Ligonier Valley tonight.
HOMER-CENTER 70, PENNS MANOR 31: Homer-Center raced to an 18-point first-quarter lead and more than doubled up Penns Manor in field goals to coast to a win in a Heritage Conference game in Kenwood.
The Wildcats built a 22-4 first-quarter lead and held a 19-point halftime lead, 35-16. Homer-Center collected 27 field goals to Penns Manor’s eight.
Joe Capitosti scored a game-high 17 points to lead Homer-Center. Jacob Citeroni scored a career-high 15 points, and John Capitosti added 11 points.
Mitch Hamilton scored eight points to pace Penns Manor.
Both teams play Thursday. Homer-Center travels to Saltsburg and Penns Manor plays host to Leechburg.