By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
WYALUSING – Sayre had a little surprise for Susquehanna when the teams met in the fourth annual Susquehanna-Bradford County Challenge Sunday afternoon.
The Redskins had failed to make a single 3-pointer Friday night against Blue Ridge with the Sabers in the gym watching on the first night of the event.
When Sayre came out and did more than half its scoring from beyond the arc, Susquehanna needed to make a few adjustments before rallying to a 68-61 victory at Wyalusing Valley High School.
The second-half comeback allowed the Sabers to finish as the only 2-0 team in the event.
“We talked at halftime about closing out better on their entire team and I thought we did a better job of that in the second half,” Sabers coach Lawrence Tompkins said. “However, in the game, I thought both teams shot the ball incredibly well.
“It was a game that had a really good flow to it and both teams got into that flow.”
Bryce Baldwin scored 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting to lead four Sabers in double figures.
Susquehanna hit half of its dozen 3-point attempts and shot 51.9 percent (27-for-52) from the floor.
Sayre built a pair of eight-point leads before settling for a 33-29 advantage at halftime.
The Redskins shot 57.9 percent (11-for-19) from 3-point range.
A scouting report from the only previous game played this season, the 58-38 loss to the Raiders, was rendered useless when Zach Moore went 6-for-9 from long distance to lead the Redskins with 19 points.
“Sayre didn’t make one 3-pointer the other night against Blue Ridge,” Tompkins said. “We told our guys that before the game. We alerted them to that fact, but we told them, that may be coincidental or maybe they’re just not great shooters.”
The Redskins only dipped from 60 to 56 percent in the second half, even with the Sabers concentrating more on contesting the 3-point shots.
Susquehanna had its own offensive efficiency and a 33-17 dominance on the boards to help it overcome the Sayre shooting.
C.J. Stone had 17 points, Adam Rockwell 15 and Mason Deakin 14.
Rockwell had 13 of his points, 7 of his game-high 9 rebounds, 6 of his game-high 7 assists and both of his steals during the second-half comeback.
“Hat’s off to Sayre for bringing their best game,” Rockwell said, “but all we had to do was execute and I feel like we did a great job of that in the second half.”
Deakin finished with five rebounds, four assists and a game-high three steals.
Rockwell had seven points and Stone six during a 21-point third quarter.
The Sabers moved in front with a 10-0 run in the middle of the quarter.
Rockwell tied the game, Stone scored the next four for the lead, then Baldwin and Deakin got involved as the Sabers scored all their points in the streak from 12 feet and in.
Moore’s 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter capped a 10-0 Sayre streak and gave the Redskins their final lead, 51-50.
Deakin’s 3-pointer from the left corner with 6:36 left put Susquehanna ahead to stay.
Rockwell’s 3-pointers 18 seconds apart in the middle of the quarter opened the lead to 60-53. His 3-point shooting was a big part of Susquehanna going 2-0 in the tournament and included a final-second, game-winner in a 48-47 Friday victory over Wyalusing.
Deakin hit both ends of a one-and-one twice in the final 27 seconds to lock up the win.