By TOM ROBINSON, NEPABasketball.com
PLYMOUTH – Marcus Bauman, Ky’Ron Harbin and Robbie McAndrew each provided at least 14 points and 8 rebounds to the Scranton attack Friday night.
One of the biggest positives for the Knights, however, was how well they did when all three sat on the bench.
The Scranton bench extended the lead during a second-quarter stretch while coach Tony Battaglia managed foul trouble, helping the Knights to a 69-58 victory over host Wyoming Valley West in a non-league boys basketball game.
Harbin went to the bench with two fouls with 1:38 left in the first quarter and the game tied, 13-13. Bauman followed for the same reason with 5:49 left in the second quarter and Scranton ahead, 19-17. McAndrew joined them with 4:22 remaining in the half and a 21-19 lead.
A deep bench, led by Isiah Montgomery, helped make sure Battaglia never felt any pressure to risk a third first-half foul for any of his starters.
“I told them at halftime, ‘that’s a great team first half’,” Battaglia said. “I said if we keep doing this, we’re going to be very successful.
“We had three of our best players on the bench and the other guys, not only did they compete, but they extended the lead a little bit.”
Montgomery hit a 7-footer from the right side off the press break on the first possession after McAndrew left the game. He added a transition basket off an assist by fellow reserve Cameron Jordan for the last points of the half and a 29-24 lead.
The Knights outscored the Spartans, 8-5, in the time when all three starters sat and 16-11 in 9:38 without Harbin, their top returnee.
Only Bauman faced any addition foul issues in the fourth quarter. The transfer from upstate New York finished with team-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds despite picking up his third and fourth fouls in the third quarter.
“He’s come in and played exceptionally well for us,” Battaglia said of Bauman, who is averaging 14.3 points and 14 rebounds to help the Knights to their 2-1 start. “He has a nose for the ball. He’s super athletic.
“He doesn’t have a lot of brawn to him, but he’s tall, he’s quick to the ball and he likes to rebound.”
The bench had statistical advantages over the Wyoming Valley West bench of 15-3 in points, 6-2 in rebounds, 5-2 in assists and 2-1 in steals. It provided one more late boost.
Jordan ran the floor to go 4-for-4 while scoring eight points in the fourth quarter, helping the Knights break open a four-point game.
“We’ve been trying to run in spots,” Battaglia said. “If teams give us the sideline or the middle, we’re going to take it.
“We’re very quick and athletic. The guys are making good decisions on the breaks and, if we don’t have it, I think we’re confident enough in our offense that we can pull the ball out and get a good shot out of one of our sets.”
Scranton used that running game – and the willingness to share the ball while running the floor – to get quality shots. The Knights finished 29-for-60 (48.3 percent) from the floor, including 24-for-41 (58.5) from inside the arc.
Harbin had 15 points and 9 rebounds. He showed off his leading ability on two dunks, one off an in-bounds play, alley-oop from McAndrew, the other after weaving through the defense on a fastbreak.
McAndrew finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Scranton trio combined to offset a huge night from Wyoming Valley West’s Draig Ruff, who had 28 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists and a blocked shot. Ruff has 92 points (30.7 per game) during the team’s 1-2 start.