MERCERSBURG - After a back-and-forth first half Friday night, James Buchanan came out of the locker room with a sense of urgency.
The Rockets went from being up by eight to being up by 13 in a matter of minutes. Although Waynesboro's boys basketball team tried to claw its way back in, the Indians couldn't muster a comeback and suffered a 57-47 loss in Mid Penn Colonial Division action.
"I think they punched us first, and we didn't respond right away," Waynesboro guard Cameron Keck said. "We have to come out and be aggressive just as much as we were in the first half to keep us in games. The third quarter can really determine how the game goes the rest of the way."
The Rockets (4-2, 2-1 MPC) closed out the first half on a four-point run and kept up the momentum in the early part of the third.
"In the locker room, Coach talked about how it was our ball and he wanted us to go out and have a good possession," James Buchanan senior Ryan Hege said. "He told us to throw the ball inside, and we were looking for an easy one."
JB got the ball inside, and Hege completed an easy layup. Although the Indians (0-6, 0-4 MPC) answered with a quick jumper from Dakota Rhyne, the Rockets had a response of their own in the form of four straight points by Cody Tacker. A 3-pointer by Gage Piper pushed JB's lead to 35-22, and from there, Waynesboro never got it within seven.
Hege, Tacker and Piper all finished in double figures for the Rockets.
"Any time you have balanced scoring, it's tough to defend," JB coach Larry Strawoet said. "You can't focus on one. When we have that balance, teams can't double Ryan up from certain positions, and if you watch where they're doubling, most teams are coming from that back side."
Waynesboro's defense gave the Rockets fits, though, especially early on. After Piper nailed a pair of 3-pointers to begin the game, the Indians locked down their defense and stayed with the Rockets through the entire first half. The problem was, the Indians finished 5-for-22 from the floor in the first half and had only 18 points at the break.
"We're doing a lot of good things, but probably the biggest issue that we're dealing with is we just can't score at times," Waynesboro coach Tom Hoffman said. "I don't care how many coaches say championships are won on defense - if you don't put the ball in the basket, you're not going to win many games. That's just the facts of life."
Waynesboro did have a few scoring notables. Mitch Neterer led the way with 16 points, and Keck had a fine birthday game with 15 points. But the rest of the Indians combined for only 16 points.
Even still, both coaches agree that the Indians have made strides since the teams' first meeting two weeks ago.
"They're much improved," Strawoet said. "I don't think there's a game in our conference that someone can walk into and think they're going to win without any problems. Waynesboro is a much-improved team, and their kids play hard. They're gonna beat some teams; I'm just glad it wasn't us tonight."
NOTES >> Hege finished the game's only double-double; he pulled down 14 rebounds, and had three blocks ... The teams combined to go 31-for-51 from the free-throw line.
James Buchanan 57, Waynesboro 47
Kyle Hoffman 1 3-4 6, Mitch Neterer 5 3-4 16, Cameron Keck 5 2-2 15, Ogo Akamelu 1 0-0 2, Dakota Rhyne 2 0-0 4, Jevik Fogelsonger 1 0-2 3, Evan Hine 0 0-3 0, Cal Davis 0 0-0 0, Nick Sims 0 1-2 1, Tim Correll 0 0-0 0, Logan Weibley 0 0-0 0. Totals — 15 8-14 47.
James Buchanan (57)
Jared Pine 0 2-2 2, Gage Piper 3 5-8 16, Zach Vosburg 1 0-0 2, Cody Tacker 3 7-13 14, Ryan Hege 4 6-9 14, Toby Sowers 1 2-2 4, Hunter Reath 0 0-0 0, Hunter Sowers 2 1-3 5, Kyle Buchanan 0 0-0 0. Totals — 14 23-37 57.
Waynesboro _ 7 _ 11 _ 12 _ 17 _ — _ 47
James Buchanan _ 12 _ 14 _ 11 _ 20 _ — _ 57
3-point goals — Way 8 (Neterer 3, Keck 3, Hoffman, Fogelsonger), JB 4 (Piper 3, Tacker).