BY RICK WEAVER
NANTY GLO —
Shanksville-Stonycreek dominated Blacklick Valley in the middle quarters and withstood a furious comeback bid by the hosts as it posted a 50-40 victory in a non-sectional WestPAC game Tuesday night at Blacklick Valley High School.
Shanksville, going five-deep into the bench, parlayed its edge in size and depth into a 15-0 run that changed an 8-7 deficit after one quarter into a 23-13 halftime lead. Robert Snyder’s squad continued to impose its will in the third quarter and assumed a 15-point lead into the final period.
“I like my bench,” Snyder said of a substitutes corps that includes Ben Bittner, Ben Duppstadt, Tanner Ferko, Nathen Gardner and Joe Hudak. “Those guys come in and give us minutes. It may not show up in the stats sheet, but they still contribute defensively. We pull down a critical rebound or we get a steal or an assist or something positive.”
“They were able to go to the bench a little deeper than I was and they played very difficult defense,” Blacklick Valley coach Garry Wurm said. “Every shot we got we had to work for. Nothing was easy tonight against them. Transition buckets didn’t come very easy for us.”
Shanksville hit 45 percent (18 of 46) from the field and held a 39-19 edge in rebounds. Carter Slade ruled the boards with 10 rebounds.
Shanksville took a 39-24 lead into the final eight minutes, only to watch Blacklick Valley cut the difference to four entering the final minute before holding on. Blacklick forced 20 turnovers.
“I thought we made some bad choices (with) things we were doing on the floor,” Snyder said. “We picked up some dumb fouls. I don’t think we made the right choices with our passes.”
“I’m proud of our kids because they battled to the end. We got it to where we were within striking distance,” Wurm said. “We had the ball, we got the shots that we wanted to get. They just didn’t fall for us.”
Shanksville’s Ryan Platt led all scorers with 19 points. He hit all four free throws. Slade added 12 points, followed by Jordan Wilt (10).
“The last minute-and-a-half we regained our composure. We made our free throws and we were making the right choices. That was the difference,” Snyder said. “(But) you’re right; the big lead helped us.”
Seeing that Blacklick will likely make the District 6 playoffs, Wurm has a to-do list for his team going foward.
“I’d like to take away those mental errors that we had,” he said. “When we’re playing teams with this type of aggressive defense (I’d like for us) to have some continuity.”
Johnny Sheesley led Blacklick Valley with 17 points, followed by Dalton Cesarz (16). Blacklick Valley managed to hit only 28 percent (14 of 50) from the floor.
With his team sure to attain a high seed in the District 5 playoffs, Snyder viewed Tuesday’s win before a raucous crowd as tantamout to a playoff win at regular-season admission prices.
“This is playoff ball,” he said. “This is a quality team. These are playoff officials. And this is what we’re going to have to deal with. We were in a hostile environment. We’ve got to maintain our composure, we’ve got to communicate a little better on the floor, and everything will be fine.”