SUNBURY – Dillon Young and Austin Loe quickly scored inside before Hunter Shearer and Josh Burger buried 3-pointers. Just like that, Montoursville cut a 14-point third-quarter deficit to four and looked like it might have Danville on the ropes.
But those moments were fleeting and after Danville answered with a quick 8-0 run, Montoursville never could rediscover that touch.
Danville played strong defense, received balanced scoring and hit the boards hard Wednesday at the Shikellamy Field House, defeating Montoursville, 56-45 in the Heartland Conference Tournament semifinals. The Ironmen (17-6) head to their second final in three years and will play Loyalsock. Montoursville (16-6) returns to action tonight and plays at Williamsport.
“We were hoping to put on a better show than that. We just couldn’t make a shot for the longest stretch,” Montoursville coach Mike Mussina said. “They took us out of stuff we wanted to do and defensively, they got too many second chances. Every time we turned it over it seemed like they scored. It was just one of those days. You can do everything right, but if you can’t make a shot it doesn’t really matter.”
Mavin James scored 17 points for Danville and Jagger Dressler produced 11 points and 13 rebounds as Danville opened a 16-point fourth-quarter lead before Montoursville made a brief, late rally. Danville scored the game’s first five points before Montoursville countered with a 9-0 run.
Again, though, Montoursville was unable to sustain that momentum and Danville opened a 10-point second-quarter lead when it made its first five shots, including three 3-pointers. The Warriors were playing catch up the rest of the way two nights after pounding Hughesville, 60-33, on the road.
“They were hot there for a while at the beginning and we weren’t. That’s how it goes. I wish we would have been better, but it just wasn’t our day,” Mussina said. “We played really well the other day at Hughesville and it didn’t carry over to tonight. That’s how sports are. Just when you think you’ve got it, you don’t have it anymore.”
Young played an outstanding game, scoring a game-high 22 points, dealing four assists and adding two steals. Hunter Shearer added 11 points and six rebounds, but the balance that has defined Montoursville over the last three years was not there and two starters averaging nine or more points per game were held scoreless.
Minus those first and third-quarter bursts, Montoursville never really found its rhythm either. The Warriors made just 35 percent of their shots, but Thursday provides another opportunity and a team that will be playing its third road game in four nights also could cross paths again with Danville during districts.
“When you’re playing a third of the season in 12-14 days it gets tough,” Mussina said. “That’s the way it laid out for us and we just have to deal with it.”
Danville 56, Montoursville 45
Dillon Young 10 1-2 22, Josh Burger 3 0-0 7, Hunter Shearer 4 0-0 11, Peyton Mussina 0 0-0 0, Jake Simms 0 0-0 0, Austin Loe 2 0-0 5, Brandon Good 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 1-2 45.
Mavin James 8 0-0 17, KJ Riley 4 0-0 8, Jagger Dressler 5 0-0 11, Dante Harward 5 2-2 12, Jack Smith 2 2-2 8, Colton Sidler 0 0-0 0, Carson Persing 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 4-4 56.
Montoursville 9 7 14 15 — 45
Danville 11 17 14 14 — 56
3-point goals: Montoursville 6 (Shearer 3, Young, Burger, Loe); Danville 4 (Smith 2, James, Dressler).
Records: Danville (17-6), Montoursville (16-6).