Loyalsock blew the game open at the start of the third quarter.
Lancer point guard Kyle Datres ran the pick-and-roll to perfection in the halfcourt on consecutive possessions. Loyalsock capitalized in transition on the next two before Datres sliced through the defense and connected off the glass. In between, State College came up empty on three trips down the floor and turned it over on another as the Lancers’ lead ballooned from nine points to 20 in less than three minutes.
Loyalsock rolled past State College 80-57 in the Kiwanis Holiday Classic championship game Tuesday night.
“I think they’re just a very, very, very, very disciplined team,” State College coach Joe Walker said. “Whatever they run, they do it really well and we knew that going in. We didn’t play ball screens very well and that was kind of as a coaching staff, we didn’t cover exactly how we should have played it.”
Ben Sosa scored a game-high 18 points for Loyalsock. Datres added 13, Tommy Baggett finished with 12 and Mike LaPoint had 10 in a balanced offensive effort.
Sosa and Datres were named to the all-tournament team along with State College teammates Tyler Snyder and Alex McCann. Snyder led the Little Lions (4-5) with 12, and McCann had 11 Tuesday.
The Lancers (8-1) led 37-27 at halftime and used an 18-1 run at the start of the second half to build an insurmountable lead.
“We’ve had trouble developing the killer instinct, so we harped on that the entire halftime,” Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. “Because we’ve been notorious for going out in the third quarter and blowing large leads. They did what we asked them to do this time and put the finishing touches on (the win).”
Datres started the run with a perfectly placed bounce pass to Brennan Casale off a pick-and-roll. The point guard then found Sosa with a behind-the-back pass for a finish down the left side of the lane.
He knocked down a pass by State College’s Michael Caswell near halfcourt on the next possession, Loyalsock’s Marcus Williams chased down the loose ball and hit Datres for a layup in transitionto push the lead to 15. After a missed layup by State College, Sosa broke downcourt and received a pass for an easy breakaway layup.
Datres completed the initial 11-0 run for Loyalsock with 5:20 left in the third quarter.
“He doesn’t make mistakes,” Walker said of Datres. “And it’s tough to guard a team that’s run so well by their point guard.”
Walker took the blame for State College’s poor ball-screen defense in the halfcourt, but the Little Lions also had trouble slowing down the Lancers’ transition attack.
The Lancers looked to push the ball, and the Little Lions failed to get back defensively.
“They’re just really good at that,” Walker said, “so if you slack off for one second and not keying on what you’re supposed to be doing, they’re going to take advantage of it.”
Loyalsock came into the game averaging 78.4 points per game.
In addition to the four players in double figures, Caleb Schmucker had nine, Casale had eight and Williams had six.
“Tonight we were kind of clicking on all cylinders,” Insinger said.
State College couldn’t keep pace as the team struggled to execute offensively.
Walker said the Little Lions tried to go one-on-one too much in the first half. State College didn’t score its first field goal of the second half until Caswell finished a layup with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter.
Loyalsock led 55-31 at that point.
Walker said his team must improve its halfcourt offense to compete in the Mid Penn Conference moving forward.
The Little Lions host Carlisle in conference play Tuesday.
“We have a lot of learning to do,” Walker said. “We’re not done learning. 2014’s over and like I said, we don’t dwell on things, but we try to learn from them as best we can and our offense is something we have to take a look at.”