Check out the best plays from Day 1 of the Fannett-Metal Christmas Tournament. Video by Lizi Arbogast, GameTimePA.com
Both Fannett-Metal and Shalom Christian's boys basketball teams know that the sluggish start they had Thursday won't cut it for Friday night's championship game.
The Flames needed overtime to come back from a 10-point halftime deficit to take down McConnellsburg, 58-57, and Fannett-Metal overcame a lightning-fast start from Maryland School for the Deaf in a 72-65 victory.
Now, Shalom faces off against the host Tigers in the Fannett-Metal Christmas Tournament championship, which is set for Friday at 7:30 p.m.
"(After the slow start), we were just being patient," F-M coach Jeff Winegardner said. "They weren't making any shots outside other than those threes in the corners. But at the top of the key, they weren't getting anything. We rebounded a bit better."
Shalom senior Micah Lehman said, "We need to have a stronger start, especially in the second quarter. We'll need to clean that up for (Friday)."
McConnellsburg's defense gives fits: Although the Spartans suffered a loss to Shalom Christian in their F-M tourney opener, they put on a fine defensive display.
McConnellsburg (3-2) used a full-court press to throw off the Shalom Flames (6-3), especially early on. Shalom, which is averaging nearly 60 points a game, managed only 15 points in the opening 16 minutes.
"To hold them to 15 in the first half is really good," Spartan coach Drew Washabaugh said. "Our problem has been the third quarter all year, and we came out and didn't score for a couple minutes there. They did to us in the second half what we did to them in the first half."
Chase Novak's defensive prowess was certainly on display, as he held Flames leading scorer Jonah Stains to just 15 points. Stains is now 13 away from breaking the Shalom school scoring record.
"Chase is a really good defender," Washabaugh said. "No matter who I put him on, he can defend anyone."
Raymer shines: While Mikell McGee gets most of the attention for Fannett-Metal (4-2), which took down the previously undefeated Orioles (6-1), there's another Tiger to add to the mix.
Austin Raymer has come on strong of late, and had a 21-point performance on Thursday night. He also had a team-high five rebounds.
"He's really stepped up and been really physical for us," Winegardner said. "He's looking for his shot more, and he's playing very good defense. He plays in the middle in the zone, and he's doing a really good job."
Secondary scoring for Stains: Like Fannett-Metal, Shalom Christian has had a few players emerge as top scoring threats.
Junior Cameron Roseman led the Flames with 21 points in Thursday's win, and Micah Lehman also put up his fifth double-digit performance of the season. Lehman finished with 10 points.
"It's really important to get some other guys scoring," Lehman said. "If only one person is doing the scoring, then the other team can focus on just that one person. It's a really big team effort for us. Jonah might get most of the points, but it's usually a team effort that gets him those points."