By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
CARBONDALE – After two one-point losses to Mountain View during the Lackawanna League Division 4 boys basketball schedule, Susquehanna learned just enough to get past the Eagles when the teams met in again in a playoff for the division title.
“Our first game with Mountain View this year taught us a lot,” Susquehanna coach Lawrence Tompkins said after Saturday afternoon’s 43-40 victory. “Our second game with them last week, I thought was an evenly matched game and I anticipated that today.
“It was a dogfight the whole way.”
Just when the Sabers appeared ready to put the game away, Mikey Schermerhorn hit 3-pointers seven seconds apart to pull Mountain View within 41-38 with 11.1 seconds left.
Bryce Baldwin, who finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds, hit two free throws with 5.4 seconds left to finally give the Sabers the cushion they needed to complete a successful title defense.
A senior class that saw a lot of playing time as freshmen on a team that was winless in the division is now responsible for leading Susquehanna to its first two division titles in school history in back-to-back seasons.
Mason Deakin, last year’s NEPABasketball.com division Player of the Year, scored 8 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. He held Schermerhorn, the division’s leading scorer, to 7 points until the final 2:36.
When Schermerhorn was finally scoring late, Deakin kept the Sabers in control by going 4-for-4 from the line in the final 46.1 seconds.
“I thought Mason played outstanding against him, but it’s a team effort, too,” Tompkins said. “We’re trying to get out there and cover those ball screens and there’s another defender we’re bringing at him all the time.”
Both teams went 9-3 in the division, necessitating the playoff.
“We knew that this was the last time we get to play them so we had to come out and give it our all,” Baldwin said.
Deakin also had six rebounds, five assists and two steals in the win.
Schermerhorn scored 16 points, assisted on 5 of the 8 baskets he did not score himself and also blocked 4 shots.
Michael Fanelli added 10 points and 8 rebounds for the Eagles.
Adam Rockwell scored seven of his nine points in the first quarter to help the Sabers to a 12-9 lead despite missing their first six shots.
Mountain View only led for 34 seconds of the game after Baldwin’s low post move put Susquehanna ahead, 7-6, with 2:20 left in the first quarter.
C.J. Stone’s three-point play, Baldwin’s putback and Deakin’s two free throws gave the Sabers seven straight points for a 35-26 lead with 4:32 left.
“This was hard this year,” Tompkins said of the title defense. “Mountain View’s a really good team.”