Count West Shamokin and Homer-Center as the teams that got a bit of a jump on the delayed high school basketball season.
West Shamokin beat Burrell, 68-46, and Homer-Center rolled past Saltsburg, 62-35. in girls’ games on Saturday afternoon.
Sophie Fusaro scored a career-high 36 points in West Shamokin’s romp in a non-conference game, and Homer-Center pulled away from the Trojans in the second half in the Heritage Conference opener for both teams.
The pair joined Penns Manor, which opened the season Friday night with a victory, as early starters coming out of the delay. The rest of the conference, and most teams across the state, begin play this week after the season was delayed on Dec. 12 as part of a statewide shutdown.
“We were just happy to get a game in,” West Shamokin coach Frank Nagy said. “We got to practice the minimum of 10 times that the state required, and we didn’t get any scrimmages in, so we really wanted to get a real game in before Heritage Conference play. We didn’t want Blairsville at their place (Tuesday) to be the first competition we’d see this year.”
Fusaro, a senior guard, opened in top form in surpassing the career high of 29 points she scored as a sophomore. Five of her seven field goals came from 3-point range, and she converted 7 of 8 free throws. All the 3s came in the first three quarters. She also finished with five rebounds and three steals.
“She played very well,” Nagy said. “The biggest thing was that she shot it well, but she was really aggressive and didn’t want to stand at the arc. … She really had a complete offensive game that we’ve known she’s capable of but hasn’t always done it. It was great to see her play to her potential in that moment.
“I really think she has taken the situation that we’re all in to heart the most, as in it’s her senior year and you don’t know what you’re guaranteed moving forward, and she has made it a mission to make the most out of every game.”
Abby Oesterling, also a senior guard, finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and seven steals.
“She had an outstanding game,” Nagy said. She almost had a quadruple-double, and that right there is tremendous. She sets the tone for us, offensively as well as defensively.”
Lily Jordan, a freshman forward seeing her first varsity action, started in place of standout senior Lexie Young, whose season might be over before it started due to an ankle injury she suffered in the volleyball postseason. Jordan finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“Lily Jordan did a nice job,” Nagy said. “She had a double-double in her first career varsity game and didn’t show any nerves. Unfortunately, Lexie got hurt, and Lily got the opportunity to step in, and she took ownership of the situation.”
Ally Fisher led Burrell with 19 points.
HOMER-CENTER 62, SALTSBURG 35: Homer-Center stretched an eight-point halftime lead to 22 during a big third quarter.
Marlee Kochman, a junior, led the Wildcats with 16 points. Ayannah Elliott, a junior, and Macy Sardone, a sophomore, chipped in 13 points apiece.
Eden Plowman scored 13 points for Saltsburg.
Both teams play conference games Tuesday, with Homer-Center playing host to defending conference champion Penns Manor, and Saltsburg welcoming Purchase Line.
BOYS: Homer-Center opened Heritage Conference play with a 53-47 win over Saltsburg on Saturday. No details were available.
United lost to Berlin, 72-45, in a non-conference game. Austin Kovalcik and Jake Boring combined for 21 points for United.
Eli Sechler led Berlin with 21 points and Abe Countryman had 18.
Homer-Center returns to action this evening at Penns Manor. United plays at Homer-Center on Thursday.