By Drew Karpen
Last year the General McLane boys basketball team suffered one loss the entire season. It did not come at the most opportune time, as the Lancers fell to the Montour Spartans 48-38 in the PIAA AAA quarterfinals.
Almost a year has passed since that season ending loss. And the Lancers have a golden opportunity to get revenge as they and the Spartans meet up for the second straight year in the Class AAA state quarterfinals. Game time is 8 p.m. today at New Castle Area High School.
“There is always motivation to move on,” General McLane coach Andy Schulz said. “(Montour) is very well coached. They are an excellent team and deserve to be here.”
McLane (22-5) didn’t exactly jump out of the gates in last year’s meeting, falling behind 25-13 at the half.
The Lancers struggled against Montour’s defense, shooting just 28.6 percent for the contest (12-for-42).
McLane will have to be more efficient on offense to keep up with Montour’s skilled scorers.
“Their point guard, Devin Wilson, is an excellent all-around player,” Schulz said. “He controls the tempo. They shoot 3s very well.”
Montour’s long-range game was on display in the Spartans’ 48-38 win over Girard in this past Tuesday’s second round meeting. Robbie Julian scored a career-high 26 points, including seven treys.
Another player to keep an eye on is Kevin Scuilli. Scuilli was the leading scorer in last year’s meeting with McLane, bucketing 12 points.
“Kevin is just as deadly as Julian,” Schulz said. “We have to do a good job on both players. We have to play the best game we have played all year.”
Besides concentrating more than usually on Montour’s sharpshooters, the Lancers plan to stick to the formula that got them to this point.
“I’m not a big believer in doing things we haven’t done,” Schulz said. “We will concentrate more on the shooters but we are going to play the style that has brought us here.”
Offensively, McLane plans to stick with the player that has carried them to this point.
Jaymon Mason, who scored 24 points in the loss last year to Montour (23-4), is coming off a 34-point performance in a 69-54 win over Beaver Area in the second round.
In order for McLane to come out on top this time, Mason is going to have to continue getting help from his teammates.
“I think Quinn (Thompson) has been more effective in the post,” Schulz said. “Lukas (Hallett) and Clay (Smith) have taken turns getting in double figures for us too.”
While getting offensive contributions from numerous players is a positive, it is more than likely going to come down to which team can clamp down defensively on the opposing play-makers.
“The main key is how well we play defensively as a team,” Schulz said. “I’m sure that’s (Montour’s) goal too. The team that rebounds the ball better usually has a good chance of winning.”
The path to the PIAA playoffs may have been slightly different this year for the Lancers.
After entering last year’s playoffs undefeated, the target on their backs has not been quite as big coming into this postseason. Either way, Schulz is equally as impressed at the feats this year’s squad has accomplished.
“I think what these kids have done this year is truly amazing,” Schulz said. “Every game we battle our hardest and leave nothing on the court. (Tonight) we are going to give that effort again.”