WVHS Boys' Basketball: Rams Falter in Tip-Off Tournament
Despite a pair of game efforts, an inexperienced Wyalusing Valley boys’ basketball team settled for fourth place in the Williams Auto Group Tip-Off Tournament at Towanda on Dec. 9-10.
The Rams were in contention in both contests, a 44-32 loss to Sullivan County in the opener and a 63-62 nailbiting loss to Mansfield in the consolation final.
Against the Griffins, who won the tournament with a 52-35 win over Towanda on Dec. 10, Wyalusing watched the game slip away in the fourth quarter.
With the score tied at 30-30 with just under seven minutes to play, Sullivan County went on a 14-2 run.
Cody Pickett’s free throws with 4:46 left were Wyalusing’s final points.
Strong defense by the Griffins and ragged spells of ballhandling by the Rams resulted in 27 turnovers. In contrast, the Griffins had just 16 turnovers.
Aaron Johnson scored all of his game-high 19 points for the Rams in the first three quarters. Pickett joined him in double figures with 10 points.
Sullivan’s Sharif Welton finished with 13 points. Zach Meyer added eight markers.
The Rams held a slender 31-27 rebounding lead.
Johnson pulled down 14 rebounds.
Dalton Molyneux had six rebounds for the Griffins. Welton and Derek Wilkins each had five caroms.
While the Sullivan game hinged on an outstanding defensive effort, neither team shined defensively in the loss to Mansfield.
With Johnson scoring 27 of his game-high 33 points in the first half and both Domenic Ciccolini and Kye Novak adding six points each, the Rams held what appeared to be a commanding 43-32 halftime lead.
However, despite serious foul troubles to its top players, Mansfield battled back in the second half.
Trailing 51-42 with 3:51 to play in the third quarter, the Tigers went on an 8-2 run to take a 54-53 lead with five minutes remaining.
Taylor Hillson had four points in the skein.
The Rams answered with a 6-2 run for a 59-56 lead with 3:29 remaining. Novak led the run with four points.
Mansfield’s Alec Simpson and Johnson swapped baskets over the next minute and a half.
Hillson tied the score at 61-61 with a three-pointer with 1:53 left.
Simpson added a pair of free throws with 45 seconds left.
Mansfield missed the front end of a one-and-one that would likely have sealed the win with 19 seconds left.
Novak went to the line for the Rams with three seconds remaining and made the first of a one-and-one opportunity.
Wyalusing rebounded the missed second shot, but a hurried shot didn’t find the mark.
Novak joined Johnson in double digits for the Rams with 11 points.
Three Mansfield players finished with double digits, led by Simpson with 16 points. Hillson had 15 and Justin Berkowitz added 11.
The statistics were as close as the final score.
Wyalusing was 24-53 in field-goal shooting in the game, while Mansfield made 25 of 53 shots.
The Tigers had a 24-23 lead in rebounding, led by Reece Correll and Hillson with five caroms each.
Johnson and Ciccolini had 11 and six rebounds, respectively, for the Rams.
The Rams do not return to action until Tuesday, Dec. 20, when they host Towanda in the Northern Tier League East opener for both schools.
Wyalusing finished fourth in the tournament, dropping its opener to Sullivan County, 33-21, and losing to Mansfield in the consolation game, 47-26.
In the loss to Sullivan, Zamien Benditt and Kyle Tinna each scored eight points for the Rams. Bob Polcrack topped the Griffins with 14 points.
Dylan Bulick led Wyalusing with 11 points in the loss to Mansfield. Chandler Correll led Mansfield with 11.