St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s Jack Mangene grabbed a defensive rebound early in the third quarter and sprinted coast-to-coast for a layup.
Frustrated by what he saw, Penns Valley coach Terry Glunt immediately shouted for a timeout, and had a few choice words for his boys’ basketball team.
“He said we need to stop the ball,” Rams guard Aaron Tobias recalled. “We need to get on them and we need to play better than what we just did.”
The boys listened to their coach.
For more than 10 minutes after that little discussion, the Rams did not allow the Wolves to score a point as the hosts went on to a 41-35 victory Monday night. The victory avenged an early season loss to the Wolves in Boalsburg, and continued the Rams’ climb back from a 3-7 start to the season.
“I think we’ve gotten better,” Glunt said. “That was our goal — to be the best team we can be by the end of the year. We’re getting better.”
Logan Snyder’s 14 points paced Penns Valley (9-10) and Cam Shaffer added 11.
Mangene’s 16 points led the Wolves (16-6).
Mangene had sliced through the Penns Valley zone for a layup seconds into the second half for his team’s first bucket after the break, then added his end-to-end jaunt a little later, prompting Glunt to bellow for that timeout with 6:21 left in the third quarter and the game knotted 20-20.
“I have five timeouts, and that first one — I needed to use it,” he said. “The basketball gods said, ‘You need a timeout here.’ I didn’t spend a whole lot of time talking. I got the message across, and we got along with our business.”
The business was playing a staunch defense. Along with missing their shots, St. Joe’s turned the ball over five times. It was more of the same in the fourth before Mangene finally drove in for a layup with 4:04 left in the game.
“Sometimes you just have to make a point,” Glunt said. “We just have to defend. They had a couple possessions where they drove through us like we weren’t even there.”
The drought, which lasted just over 10 minutes, was wearing on the Wolves’ players.
“It’s always frustrating when shots aren’t going in,” Mangene said. “Really what it translates to, we’re not making shots, now it’s kind of hard to find the juice to keep playing defense. We did to an extent, but we couldn’t come up with enough shots.”
While The Wolves were scoreless for 10:17, Penns Valley posted 11 points for a comfortable margin in the defensive battle.
“We needed to step up and make the plays,” Snyder said. “We had to stop their transition, and we did that for 10 minutes after that. It helped us with motivation.”
St. Joe’s did catch fire offensively over the final four minutes, cutting the 11-point deficit to as close as six, but that was all the Wolves could manage.
While the offensive numbers were not prolific, Penns Valley was either going short or long with all of its scoring. The Rams sank three 3-pointers — all by Snyder — and the rest were under the basket. In fact, of the nine 2-point field goals, five came via back-door layups.
Glunt thought his team might have success at the back door, and with no practice Sunday, he had his team run through back-door drills during the pregame warmups.
“We have a whole drill with back-doors and we did that right before the game,” Snyder said. “It was pretty special to get those to work.”
The defensive breakdowns were frustrating for St. Joseph’s coach Richard Ciambotti to watch, but worse was the 10-minute stretch when his team could not break through the Rams’ zone defense.
“We know where to attack and how to attack, it’s just when sometimes,” Ciambotti said. “Picking those times tonight was something we were not very good at. It’s completely on me. I didn’t have them in positions to make the plays at the right times.”