By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
MONTROSE – Since going 1-22 together as freshmen three years ago, the current senior class at Susquehanna has been altering the history of the school’s boys basketball program.
Together, they have reached the state quarterfinals with the first state tournament victories by the school since 1999; won a District 2-11 Subregional championship; won a District 2 title at the Mohegan Sun Arena; and claimed their first all-season divisional championship ever in any league.
Friday night, they filled another hole on their resume, running over host Montrose for their first Susquehanna County Christmas Tournament title, 54-32.
“The guys listed this at the start of the year as a goal,” Sabers coach Lawrence Tompkins said. “We earned it.
“We deserved to win it with the way we played.”
Mason Deakin wrapped up a tournament Most Valuable Player performance with 21 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds. He followed up a team-high 17 points, including the 1,000th of his career, in Thursday’s 70-34 semifinal win over Blue Ridge.
Deakin had 22 points and 6 assists in last year’s final, leading a comeback that erased an 11-point, second-half deficit and putting the Sabers ahead in the final minute before they fell short, 56-54, against Elk Lake.
“Last year, we came up short a couple points,” Deakin said. “We emphasized a lot of little things in practice, like boxing out and rebounding because we’ve been lacking that.
“We executed well in our sets, slowed things down, did what we had to do.”
After giving up 55.5 points per game in a 3-3 start, the Sabers gave up just 66 points total in two tournament games.
“Sometimes, it’s just about effort,” Tompkins said. “We talk about the same things in terms of technique and strategy, but a lot of it comes down to the effort that you’re giving.”
Bryce Baldwin and Adam Rockwell, the team’s other four-year starters, made major contributions and fellow senior Anthony Dolfini joined Deakin on the all-tournament team.
Susquehanna opened a 43-21 lead through three quarters by holding Montrose to 8-for-36 (22.2 percent) shooting.
Rockwell grabbed 10 rebounds, Deakin had his 6 and Dolfini, C.J. Stone and Gavin Baker all provided 5 for a 40-32 advantage on the boards.
Baldwin had the team’s first 6 points in less than 4 minutes before foul trouble slowed him down and he finished with 11.
Rockwell had nine points and five assists. He hit a 3-pointer 40 seconds into a second quarter to break a 9-9 tie and start a 13-0.
Deakin scored on two drives and a cut off an in-bounds play as the Sabers opened a 22-9 lead before Montrose could score again with 20 seconds left in the half.
Tyler Rebello had 11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals for Montrose and landed a spot on the all-tournament team.
Brennan Gilhool grabbed nine rebounds.
Elk Lake 51, Blue Ridge 50
Elk Lake took third place in the Susquehanna County Christmas Tournament.
Nate Preston from Elk Lake and Sam Cosmello from Blue Ridge made the all-tournament team.
FRIDAY BOYS ROUNDUP: Mid Valley and Crestwood won tournament titles and Abington Heights knocked off a Class 6A unbeaten in the Peter and Jameer Nelson Classic. http://www.nepabasketball.com/2018-19/BoysRoundup122818.
SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY GIRLS: The Lady Sabers defended their title in the Denise Reddon/Jill Hoffman Memorial Christmas Tournament. http://www.nepabasketball.com/2018-19/articles/ReddonHoffmanFinals.