HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL slide

Garrett Grimaldi scored 14 of his game-high 17 points after halftime, Bryan Koches delivered a pair of game-sealing free throws off the bench in the closing moments and Penns Manor narrowly overcame a sluggish start to rally past host United, 55-53, in a Heritage Conference interdivision boys’ basketball game Wednesday.

United surged to an eight-point, 14-6 lead in the first quarter on the strength of two 3-pointers and a 2 by senior guard Aiden Ringler before Penns Manor cut the cap to six, 26-20, with a 14-12 edge in the second period.

The Comets continued chipping away at the margin after the break, outscoring the Lions 15-11 in the third quarter to trail by two, 37-35, entering the fourth.

And Penns Manor finally broke through in the final period, claiming a 53-50 advantage before Koches — a 5-foot-10 sophomore reserve guard seeing extending playing time after starter Kevin Baum fouled out — drilled back-to-back foul shots to seal the win with a 55-50 advantage.

“We just had kids keep stepping up,” second-year Penns Manor coach Andy Lansberry said. “We played a great second half. It was a total team effort. Everyone contributed. We’ve been here so many times before. These guys never wavered. They trusted in each and had a great second half. We’ve been close for so long and the think we’re finally starting to break through.”

United’s Jon Henry made a 3-pointer as time expired to forge the final score.

Grimaldi knocked down five field goals and went 7-for-12 at the foul line. He missed his first two free throws in a scoreless first quarter before hitting seven of his next eight attempts.

“We went to him in the fourth,” Lansberry said. “He’s a key player that never gets too down. He’s been so determined and he wasn’t going to let us lose tonight.”

Dimitri Lieb added 11 points for the Comets, and Austin Hill had eight.

Lansberry singled out the defensive play of Baum, 6-1 junior, who shined on a night in which he scored four points.

Baum was tasked with matching up with United starting guard/forward Austin Kovalcik, who was held to just one field goal in each quarter while scoring nine points.

“Kevin Baum, he hasn’t been scoring a lot for us, but he’s been playing amazing defense,” Lansberry said. “He held Austin Kovalcik to nine points. He’s an amazing player, and to hold him to nine points is just awesome.”

Ringer led eight United players in scoring with 16 points.

Both teams play Friday. Penns Manor (7-7, 4-5 conference) welcomes Derry for a non-conference game, and United (7-8, 4-5) visits Blairsville.

HOMER-CENTER 56, MARION CENTER 51, OT: Jaden Evanick paced Homer-Center with a game-high 18 points, and the Wildcats gave coach Bob Rado his 499th career victory by clawing their way to an overtime Heritage Conference victory after Marion Center starters Colin Fox and Preston Fox fouled out.

Marion Center erased a five-point, 24-19 halftime deficit with a 13-6 edge in the third quarter to take a two-point, 32-30 lead into the fourth. But Homer-Center forced extra time with a 12-10 advantage, knotting the score at 52-all.

The Wildcats, helped by seven trip to the foul line in the extra period, sealed the comeback win with a 13-9 edge in overtime.

Ryan Sardone added 15 points for Homer-Center, and Blake Henry scored nine.

For Marion Center, Colin Fox and Justin Peterson led the way with 13 points apiece. Connor Fairman added nine points.

Rado will aim for his 500th career win Friday when Homer-Center (10-4, 7-2) visits Saltsburg.

Marion Center travels to West Shamokin on Friday.

NORTHERN CAMBRIA 50, SALTSBURG 45: Matt Sedlock led three Northern Cambria players in double figures with 18 points, and the Colts took advantage of Saltsburg’s struggles at the foul line to claim their second Heritage Conference victory on the road.

Northern Cambria held a slim 25-22 lead at the break before outscoring the Trojans by one in each of the final two periods.

Each team knocked down 15 field goals, but the Colts went 15-for-17 at the free throw line, while Saltsburg finished 11-for-21.

“That’s been our story all season,” Saltsburg coach Don Stitt said. “If we hit those foul shots, we probably win the game.”

Despite the Trojans’ inconsistencies hitting free throws, Stitt said he wasn’t surprised by the effort that the Colts brought to Saltsburg.

“Credit to Northern Cambria,” he said. “You can see they’ve been improving and getting better all year, and they’ve been trying to get over that hump. And unfortunately for us, they did it tonight against us.”

Tyler Bearer add 14 points for the Colts, and Mike Hoover scored 12.

For Saltsburg, Brady Yard scored 12 points, Tristan Roessler had 11 and John Calandrella added nine.

Both teams play Friday. Northern Cambria (5-9, 2-7) travels to Purchase Line, and Saltsburg (9-5, 4-4) welcomes Homer-Center.

WEST SHAMOKIN 67, BLAIRSVILLE 54: Twelve West Shamokin players contributed to the score sheet in a Heritage Conference victory over visiting Blairsville.

The Wolves led 33-19 at the break and held a 28-point, 57-29 advantage entering the final period.

Justin Smulik and Trevor Smulik scored 11 points apiece for the Wolves. Ezeck Olinger chipped in 10 points, Bo Swartz had nine assists and four steals, and Jaiden Haswell dished out in five assists.

For Blairsville, Ashton Perfetti scored 16 points, and Braden Staats added 15 points.

Both teams play Friday. West Shamokin (11-5, 7-3) welcomes Marion Center, and Blairsville plays host to United.

LIGONIER VALLEY 89, PURCHASE LINE 57: Matthew Marinchak, Michael Marinchak and Kyle Silk combined to score 63 points, and Ligonier Valley used a 37-point second quarter to race past host Purchase Line in a Heritage Conference game.

The Rams built on a slim 16-12 lead in a 37-12 second quarter to take a 53-24 advantage into halftime.

Ligonier Valley’s leading trio scored all but five points in the second period. Matthew Marinchak finished with a game-high 22 points, Silk scored 21 points and Michael Marinchak had 20 points.

For Purchase Line, Hunter Antisdel knocked down four 3-pointers while scoring 16 points. Jacob Barnett added 14 points, and Isaac Huey had 13 points.

Both teams play Friday. Ligonier Valley (13-2, 9-0) plays host to North Star in a non-conference game, and Purchase Line (5-7, 3-5) welcomes Northern Cambria.