Tommy Sekunda had the most emphatic basket Wednesday night, throwing down a two-handed slam late in the third quarter of the State College boys’ basketball team’s 80-54 win over Shaler.
But it was a pair of hustle plays a little later that may have stood out even more, diving after a loose ball to create a turnover, then seconds later blocking a 3-point attempt and turning it into a basket at the other end.
“Tommy had an amazing night,” coach Joe Walker said. “I told him in the locker room, I think that’s the most energy I’ve seen him play with that I’ve ever seen.”
The senior forward racked up plenty of highlights during his 30-point scoring night in the first-round win in the Kiwanis Holiday Classic.
“Coach (Walker) has been riding us in practice about moving the ball and making the extra pass, really working as a team,” Sekunda said. “I thought that really started to show out there tonight. The offense was working and it was a good team win.”
The Little Lions (4-2) will meet Delaware Valley Charter in the championship game at 5 p.m. Thursday. Delaware Valley beat Burrell 79-29 in the first boys’ game of the day.
Drew Friberg added 19 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks for State College, with Brandon Clark notching eight points, nine rebounds and six assists. Rian Scanlon gave out four assists, and as a team they had 23 assists on their 34 baskets.
“I told the guys it was probably their best game this year of advancing, making the extra pass, finding our teammates,” Walker said. “We got most of our baskets off assists, which I was really happy about.”
Anthony Venezia’s 14 points led Shaler (1-7), which struggled through 19 turnovers.
As good as the offense looked — hitting 59 percent from the floor (34 for 58) — the defense looked just as good, with 10 steals and seven blocked shots.
“Our length, when we have our hands up, it’s tough to pass against us,” Walker said. “We also did a good job of converting turnovers. In the past, when we get 3-on-2 breaks we might not get any points out of it but tonight we ran lanes hard, we ran them well and we finished.”
Sekunda’s highlight dunk came off a steal, with Keaton Ellis feeding the ball to Sekunda in stride to throw the ball down without a dribble.
But the two hustle plays came in the fourth quarter. First, he knocked the ball away from a Titan, then he dove for the ball, corralling it with one hand, turning and bouncing it off the player’s leg to give the Little Lions the possession.
Less than a minute later, on an attempted Shaler 3-pointer, Sekunda blocked the shot, chased down the ball and raced the other way for a layup.
“I thought I got the team going a little bit,” Sekunda said of the diving save, of which he was more proud than the block that turned into the bucket. “I was pretty happy that happened because we got the ball back.”
While he also drained three 3-pointers, the layup and dunk were two of the many high-percentage shots he took, making 12 of his 17 field goal attempts.
“He had that look in his eye and he was really relaxed,” Walker said. “He had a great game, but he wasn’t trying to do too much.”