Penns Valley center Luke Snyder crouched down and threw his hands out in frustration after another turnover early in the fourth quarter.
No. 9 Penns Valley led by two points at halftime after a strong second quarter — highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers by Snyder to give his team the lead — but top-seeded Richland used its pressure defense to dominate the second half and earn a 57-38 win in the District 6 Class 3A quarterfinals Wednesday night.
Snyder finished with 10 points — all in the first half —and Andrew Tobias added 10 for Penns Valley (13-11). Richland big man Collin Instone finished with 23 points to send the district’s top seed into the semifinals to face No. 5 seed Bellwood-Antis on Monday.
The game was closer battle than the score indicated. Late in the second quarter, Snyder buried a 3 to send his team’s bench into a frenzy, which then sent Penns Valley into the break with the lead.
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“That’s the kind of things that are magical,” Penns Valley coach Terry Glunt said of Snyder’s go-ahead 3. “Those are the kind of things that happen in a game where you pull the upset, where you win a game that nobody expects you to. ... I was excited, too, despite my advanced years. I was into it as well. It was fun.”
But the fun didn’t last.
Richland (20-4) turned up the pressure in the second half, and the turnovers started to take a toll on Penns Valley midway through the third quarter.
“They’re really big and very athletic,” Snyder said. “They’re really quick, so we haven’t faced anybody that big yet and we just got a little flustered there in the second half, made a few bad passes.
Richland coach Greg Burke liked what his press accomplished in the first half as it created some opportunities offensively. But his team didn’t capitalize, missing a handful of layups as Penns Valley remained within striking distance.
That changed during Richland’s 13-0 run in the third quarter, a game-changing stretch fueled by eight points by Instone. Richland point guard Caleb Burke, the coach’s son, often found Instone during the run that pushed Richland ahead 38-29.
“I’ve had those guys play together since they were in third and fourth grade,” Greg Burke said. “They play a lot of basketball together, and Caleb and Collin are sort of always on the same page.”
Penns Valley pulled within 38-33 going to the fourth quarter, but never threatened in the final period as turnovers continued to pile up.
Richland came away with a steal on the first possession of the fourth quarter, leading to a quick layup. Penns Valley turned it over on its next two possessions, and Richland converted off the second steal to go ahead 42-33 with 7:08 left.
Glunt said his team played tentative against the press in the second half.
“We caught and held instead of caught and attacked,” Glunt said. “The reason we were up in the first half is because we were attacking.”
Though Penns Valley couldn’t build on the first half to pull the upset, Snyder and Glunt were proud of the team’s season.
Snyder thought this group exceeded expectations, finishing with a winning record and earning a district playoff victory in his senior season.
“I’m never going to forget it,” Snyder said. “These have been some of the best moments playing with my friends and out there on the court making some big plays.”