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Fourth-quarter defense turns game into Seals' rout

Jan. 31—COAL TOWNSHIP — Jace Diehl was a nightcrawler wriggling on a hook in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night.

The junior mans the lower wing of the Seals' highly-active 2-3 zone, and for the majority of the fourth quarter, he wanted Shamokin to think the shooter on the right wing of the Indians offense was opened.

"We wanted them to throw that pass" Diehl said. "We got enough pressure on the ball, they were throwing (the cross-court) pass a little slower than they wanted to."

Selinsgrove forced seven fourth-quarter turnovers by the Indians, and Shamokin never found an answer for Seals' star Ries Naugle in a 70-54 Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I victory for the Seals.

"Our zone, I thought, was really good in the second half. We were flying around, rotating like crazy," Selinsgrove coach Justin Keiser said. "We didn't give up many easy shots."

It moves the Seals and Indians into a first-place tie in the loss column in Division I after the teams each won on the others home court. Selinsgrove (6-1) has three league games remaining, tonight at home with Milton, on the road on Friday night at Central Mountain and a trip to Jersey Shore next Thursday. Shamokin is 7-1 in the league with games on Monday on the road at Jersey Shore and a home date with Milton on Tuesday.

The game was tight throughout the first three quarters — Shamokin had the biggest lead of the game at five points several times in the first quarter. Shamokin last lead of the game came late in the third quarter when Case Lichty hit a 3-pointer to give the Indians a 44-42 lead.

Naugle answered with a 3-pointer of his own, and Shamokin would score just two field goals over the next 10 minutes of game play. Naugle would convert on back-to-back drives in the final minute of the third quarter, and Diehl knocked down a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter to give Selinsgrove a 52-46 lead seconds into the final quarter. With the attention paid to the Seals top three scorers (Naugle, Xaivier Jackson and Gavin Bastian), it led to open shots for Diehl.

"It gives me a chance to step up. I haven't been shooting well (lately), and I finally got some shots to fall," Diehl said, who had a big all-round game for the Seals with 12 points, four assists, three steals and three rebounds.

Keiser added, "A lot of what (Jace) does doesn't show up in the box score, though he did have 12 points, tonight. He just so many other things that help us out — defensively and offensively."

Joe Hile would knock down a 3 to answer Diehl, but it would the Indians' last answer.

Shamokin never found an answer for the Seals 2-3 defense or Naugle attacking the basket. The senior was 10-of-11 on shots inside 3-point arc, and 12-of-15 for the game on his way to 30 points. The Indians started the game with Rylan Price guarding Naugle man-to-man, before switching to defensive stopper Case Lichty.

"I was little surprised they started Rylan on me," Naugle, who plays with the Shamokin players in the summertime, said. "He's only 5-foot-10, and I'm 6-foot-4, so I really wanted to make sure to take advantage of that."

Selinsgrove's lead to balloon to 11 with 3:20 left in the game at 60-49 before Price knocked down two foul shots to end the spurt. Selinsgrove used an 18-5 run to take control of the game with all the points coming for either Naugle or Diehl.

"When we have things rolling, it's fun to a part of," Naugle said. "When we get that lead into double digits, we have to keep after them."

The Seals (11-4) didn't stop attacking the basket, scoring seven more points, capped by a Bastian 3-pointer for a 67-51 advantage.

"We know in a blink of an eye, Shamokin can comeback. They are a good team," Naugle said. "When we try to run clock and be a little passive, we tend to get out of sorts. So we just kept attacking to close out the game."

Naugle added four steals. Bastian scored 11 of his 15 points after halftime, Luke Piecuch had a game-high seven rebounds.

Hile finished with 25 points, while Jenssyn Shuey chipped in 10 points for Shamokin (14-5).

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SELINSGROVE 70, SHAMOKIN 54

Selinsgrove (11-4) 70

Xaivier Jackson 4 0-0 9; Luke Piecuch 2 0-0 4; Ries Naugle 12 4-8 30; Jace Diehl 5 0-0 12; Gavin Bastian 6 0-0 15. Totals 29 4-8 70.

3-point goals: Bastian 3, Naugle 2, Diehl 2, Jackson.

Did not score: Griffin Parker, Camden Smith, Mason Richter, Mac DeFazio, Chase Carter, Noah Walter.

Shamokin (14-5) 54

Rylan Price 0 3-4 3; Joe Hile 10 2-2 25; Case Lichty 3 0-0 9; Jenssyn Shuey 4 1-2 10; Cru Schroyer 2 1-1 5; Andrew Leffler 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 7-9 54.

3-point goals: Lichty 3, Hile 3, Shuey.

Did not score: Gavin Renn.

Score by quarters

Selinsgrove;19;12;18;21 — 70

Shamokin;22;11;13;8 — 54