State College’s 71-34 lambasting of Hollidaysburg was never in doubt on Thursday night in the first round of the Kiwanis Holiday Classic.
After the game, what also wasn’t in doubt is who fueled the Little Lions attack.
“We played with a lot of energy, but I think Bryce Williams was the spark tonight,” said head coach Drew Frank. “If you just look at the box score tomorrow, you might say ‘eh, nothing spectacular.’
“But the amount of energy that he brought and the little things that he did for us like tip outs and offensive rebounds (were the spark),” Frank continued.
Bryan Sekunda led all scorers with 16 points. Jason Costa scored 10 and Kyle Kanaskie scored 13. Williams had just six points but also added nine rebounds.
But it was his five offensive rebounds in the first quarter that really kept the game out of the Golden Tigers’ reach.
Zach Ottaway led Hollidaysburg with 11 points.
Ahead 6-0 early in the game, Williams saw a shot go up and hustled for the offensive rebound. When he secured it, he whipped a pass right on the hands of Sekunda who launched and buried a corner three for a 9-0 lead.
“Anytime Bryce gets an offensive rebound, if he’s not going up right away he’s looking for the open guy,” Sekunda said. “And I just happened to be that open guy.”
In fact, State College would score 15-unanswered points before Ottaway finally hit a bucket from the left block with 5:05 left in the first quarter.
The damage though, had already been done.
“Bryce got us going today,” Sekunda said. “His energy was insane. He got four or five offensive rebounds in the first quarter and that just got us going. Everybody was feeding off him tonight.”
After the game, Williams simply boiled his mindset entering the game into its simplest form.
“Well, I just wanted to get the ball,” he said with a sheepish grin. “Every time a shot went up I just wanted the ball. That was my mindset.”
His coach and teammates admire his workman-like approach to the game.
“He’s just so unassuming about how he goes about his business,” Frank said. “We finally got a smile out of him during one of the timeouts. He actually smiled. It’s just nice to see that he’s beginning to value what he means to us and how well he’s playing.”
State College will face an undefeated Loyalsock team who dispatched Burrell 68-38. Mike Pastore led the Lancers with 14 points. Kyle Datres added 13.
The game will be at 4 p.m. and coach Frank knows what the key to success will be.
“They’re a very talented team,” Frank said. “They do a terrific job of pressuring the ball, so if you turn the ball over (you’re in trouble). “I’ve not seen a team convert from defense to offense faster than Loyalsock. So there’s going to be a premium on taking care of the ball.”
Ball pressure is something State College has faced already this season and Sekunda said that experience could serve them well.
“We’ve all been through probably the toughest pressure in the state against North Allegheny,” Sekunda said. “They have some crazy pressure. So I think we’re almost ready for everything, but Loyalsock has a lot of energy too.”
State College lost 68-53 to North Allegheny earlier this season.