For a few minutes Monday night in the North Gym, the State College boys’ basketball team was on fire.
Mifflin County was desperately looking for the fire extinguisher.
The Little Lions scored 15 points in a three-minute span and lit up the scoreboard in the first half en route to a 71-44 victory.
“That was a lot of fun,” said Brandon Clark, who scored a game-high 14 points. “We know we can do a lot of stuff with this team, but we’re focused on running our offense.”
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Clark led a dozen players who scored for State College (3-2), with Ryan McNulty adding 12 points and Drew Friberg netting 11. Friberg and Clark also grabbed four rebounds each.
Logan Peachey’s nine points paced the Huskies (0-3), who have given up 70-plus points in each of their games this season.
Mifflin County led just once at 12-10, but that’s when the Little Lions caught fire.
McNulty lit the match.
The junior tied the game with a layup with three minutes left in the first quarter, then raced down the lane, took a feed from Friberg for a slam dunk, added a baseline jumper, then hit another layup five seconds later when Tommy Friberg stole an inbounds pass.
Twice in the game State College swiped Mifflin County inbounds passes and turned them into layups, right after the Little Lions had just scored. In all, the Huskies were forced into 20 turnovers.
“You score six points in 20 seconds, it’s demoralizing,” coach Joe Walker said. “They have to call timeouts and it allows us to set up and maybe get some different looks.”
After a Husky timeout, Tommy Friberg drilled a 3-pointer, Clark hit a layup and Rian Scanlon stole the ball and converted at the other end just before the quarter ended for a 25-12 lead.
“Once we got in that groove,” Walker said, “you could see flashes of what we can do.”
The outburst made Walker happy after his team started the game a little slow.
“We weren’t getting everyone in their spots with our pressure,” Walker said. “But once we got everyone on the same page … I think it kind of changed the game there.”
Another 9-0 run early in the second quarter increased the spread, and the lead was up to 48-21 by halftime.
The fullcourt pressure made the Huskies wilt.
“We knew they were going to be pressing us,” Mifflin County coach Dave Sheetz said. “I kind of thought that would be an advantage to us, because it would give us some shots we weren’t able to get against their zone (defense), but then we turned it over a couple times and it allowed them to grab the lead.”
While there were three 3-pointers in there, most of the State College buckets were shot from inside five feet from the rim, and that helped the team shoot a stunning 70 percent from the field (21 for 30) in the first half.
“I was OK with that,” Walker said. “We don’t always see 70 percent shooting. … I thought we took very good shots against the zone. We were’t rushing threes. I thought we could have taken more that were open.”
The Little Lions cooled off after intermission, dialing back the defense and getting everyone on the team a few minutes, and ended up shooting a more modest 44 percent (30 for 68), but they were happy with the win.
“We were moving the ball and finding our teammates on the (court),” Clark said. “We were getting the easy buckets.”