The Black Knights came alive in the second half and were able to defeat Section One rival McCaskey on Friday, January 8, 2015. John Buffone
LANDISVILLE- Sure, some outsiders might have doubted Hempfield after its 50-point loss to Reading last week.
But what mattered most is Danny Walck’s Black Knights didn’t doubt themselves.
Six days removed from that embarrassing ‘L,’ Hempfield dropped Friday night’s 67-57 hammer on Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1-leading McCaskey in Landisville.
Sophomore Ryan Moffatt drained a career-best four triples en route to a game-high 20 points, and older brother Connor Moffatt delivered a double-double with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four assists for the Black Knights (9-4, 6-2), who sliced to within a game of Section 1 co-leaders McCaskey (9-3, 7-1) and Cedar Crest (11-2, 7-1).
Bryan Karl added 11 points for the Knights, who dominated the glass (43-26 rebounding advantage) and erased a first-half, 10-point deficit to hand Steve Powell’s Red Tornado their first league loss of the 2015-16 boys’ basketball season.
“I knew we had to take care of business after what happened last week,” said Ryan Moffatt, who scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half and also grabbed eight rebounds. “Everybody’s doubting us. The first half didn’t go our way, then in the second half we just got it going. I got some shots to fall. I kept on shooting, and it felt really good. We played as a team, played together, and we got the win.”
McCaskey, led by Kobe Gantz’s 19 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals, couldn’t buy a bucket from the arc.
The Tornado shot just 34 percent (22 of 64) from the field, including two of 22 (9 percent) from 3-point land. They missed 25 shots in the second half.
“They’re so talented and athletic that you’ve got to, at moments, play defense with offense,” Walck said of the Tornado. “I think we got into a hole up front because we shot quick. We’ve had a few lessons on that. So let’s stop that, and let’s get touches.
“When we get touches, they have to play defense longer, and we were getting better looks and getting makes. That’s part of playing an athletic team like McCaskey. You have to have an awareness for that. Here’s the trick: You can’t lose your aggression, though. If you do have an opening – and I think we got smarter with that – you have to attack.”
Riding an 8-0 run that sandwiched the first quarter break, McCaskey eventually built a 25-15 lead midway through the second stanza. Connor Moffatt, who scored 10 in the first half, was keeping Hempfield afloat, but he also was finding foul trouble, and the host’s deficit was 34-27 at intermission.
The second half started with an 18-4 run by the Black Knights, with Ryan Moffatt heating up.
Connor, though, soon picked up his third and fourth fouls, but the Knights weren’t negatively impacted thanks to solid efforts from forwards Karl (seven boards), David Martin (three points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals) and reserve Will Blair (two points, 2 boards), plus guards Javon Mitchell (seven points) and Andrew Green (six points).
“We knew we had to stay together as a team,” Ryan Moffatt said. “We were going to have [Connor’s] back. Everyone has each other’s back. It’s next man up, and that’s what happened.”
Said Walck: “We’ve been in a few of those situations. This wasn’t the first night we had to sub offense for defense or defense for offense. And I thought the biggest thing was everyone stayed connected. The bench was active. And I thought Connor handled it extremely well. Stayed connected, had an awareness.”
With Gantz scoring 11 in the fourth, McCaskey remained within striking distance after Hempfield seized control.
Ricky Cruz (seven points) and Randolph Speller (12 points) were both 1-for-8 shooting from the arc, but their hits came early in the fourth and had the Tornado within 50-47 with six minutes left.
That’s as close as it would get, though, with the Knights sinking 10 of their last 11 free throws over the final 2:38 to keep the visitors at arm’s length. Connor Moffatt knocked down all six of his tries in that span.
Hempfield finished shooting 50 percent (22 of 44), which combined with the rebounding dominance to overcome a 17-5 disadvantage in turnovers.
“The players didn’t watch the [Reading] film,” Ryan Moffatt said. “We had to get it out of our mind. We needed to keep it together, stay together. Sometimes you see players get mad at each other in tough times, but we stayed together.”
Morrow on Twitter: @RageAgainstGMo
Hempfield 67, McCaskey 57
Kobe Gantz 5 9-12 19, Ricky Cruz 3 0-0 7, Jathan Gonzalez 0 0-0 0, Izaiah Baratta 5 1-1 11, Gregory Nunez 3 0-0 6, Randolph Speller 5 1-1 12, John Burnside 1 0-0 2, Skyler Davis 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 11-14 57.
Andrew Green 2 2-2 6, Ryan Moffatt 6 4-5 20, Connor Moffatt 5 8-10 18, Will Blair 1 0-0 2, David Martin 1 1-5 3, Bryan Karl 4 2-2 11, Javon Mitchell 3 0-2 7. Totals — 22 17-26 67.
McCaskey _ 14 _ 20 _ 6 _ 17 _ — _ 57
Hempfield _ 11 _ 16 _ 20 _ 20 _ — _ 67
3-point goals — McC 2 (Cruz, Speller); Hem 6 (R.Moffatt 4, Karl, Mitchell).
JV — McCaskey 46, Hempfield 45.