COAL TOWNSHIP — The much anticipated meeting between former Lourdes Regional and current Southern Columbia head coach Pete Long and his former assistant turned Red Raiders skipper James Sandri did not disappoint.
The Tigers made all the right plays down the stretch and came back from an eight-point deficit to clip Lourdes, 47-45, Thursday night at the Shamokin Area Bob Probert Memorial Holiday Tournament.
Neither team found a rhythm in the first half as defenses clamped down to the point where scoring in bunches seemed impossible.
The Red Raiders, however, did get several players involved in the scoring department and Ty Klembara knocked down two 3-point shots to fuel the Lourdes offense and help lower the blood pressure of teammates and fans.
Southern didn’t have as many made shots in the first half, but would capitalize in the second as an underclassman gave the Tigers a much needed shot in the arm as the halftime score was deadlocked at 18 apiece.
Lourdes burst onto the scene in the first three minutes of the second half by rolling to an 10-2 run which prompted former Lourdes head coach Pete Long to call time. The Tigers allowed Lourdes players to have plenty room to shoot the basketball on or near the perimeter.
From then on the mighty Tigers roared and gave the large crowd at Shamokin a show to never forget.
Southern marched to a 22-14 run as Liam Klebon drilled two shots from downtown and with two minutes remaining the Tigers had a 44-42 lead.
Long was happy with his team’s mindset despite being down early in the second half.
“I thought our kids were mentally tough. We were down eight at one point, 28-20. I called a timeout and said, ‘Listen. Stop nitpicking at one another. Basketball is a game of runs — we’ll make a run and get back into it,’” Long said about his third-quarter message. “I thought we played harder than they did. I really did. I thought we wanted it more down the stretch. We were coming up with loose balls and rebounds. That was the difference of the game, there.”
Klebon dropped 15 points in the contest and shot 3-3 from the charity stripe.
Damian Ares drove to the basket and made a layup with 1:40 left, increasing Southern’s lead to four, which proved to be too much for the Red Raiders to overcome.
With a minute remaining, Lourdes missed a 3-pointer, down by one, and went on to miss open shots.
On the second-to-last possession for the Red Raiders, Adam Sandri fell to the ground in an attempt to draw a foul, but at the same time passed the ball, which landed out of bounds, resulting in a change of possession.
With two seconds left, Schultz would have a turn around half court shot, which came up short.