Seals can't overcome Panthers' D in state second round

Mar. 13—ALTOONA — The key to Selinsgrove's big season has been its defense — from the obvious — stopping the other team — to the not so obvious — the easy points it sometimes generates for the Seals through turnovers.

Unfortunately in the second round of the PIAA Class 5A boys basketball playoffs neither of things happened for the Seals against Franklin Regional.

"That was a good man-to-man basketball team," Selinsgrove senior Ries Naugle said. "There weren't a lot of easy points."

Cooper Masten scored one off his career-high with 21 points, and the Panthers got a huge game as well off the bench from junior Drew DeVola in a 56-45 victory over Selinsgrove to advance to the state quarterfinals.

"We thought (Selinsgrove) dictated the pace of the game in the first half, and we came out more aggressive in transition (in the second half)," Franklin Regional coach Jesse Reed said.

The Panthers had a five-point lead at halftime, but opened the third quarter with a 9-2 spurt to open up a 33-21 lead with 5:39 left in the third quarter on Fin Hutchinson's 3-pointer. Franklin Regional forced three early turnovers, and the Seals again struggled with pressure to start the third, just like the state opener with Muhlenberg.

"They were one step ahead of us on a couple of plays early in the third quarter," Selinsgrove coach Justin Keiser said. "All it takes is a couple of bad plays to go on a little run."

The Seals, which ends the season at 18-8, righted the ship, scoring seven in a row, and Gavin Bastian's 3-pointer with 2:52 left in the third has Selinsgrove back within 33-28.

But the Panthers never got passive against Selinsgrove's zone. Rangers point guard Cooper Rankin, who scored just four points, controlled the game in the second half. He had four assists and two steals in the second half, and got Franklin Regional into its offense. In fact, the Panthers had just one turnover in the second half.

"He was a good point guard, and it's dangerous when somebody can get into the lane against the zone," Naugle said. "He hit open shooters on the wing or find somebody inside."

Selinsgrove never found an answer for DeVola, a 6-foot-1, 255-pound junior defensive tackle on the Franklin Regional football team. He had eight of his 12 points in the opening four minutes of the fourth quarter. He took a feed from Rankin for a layup against Selinsgrove's pressure to give the Rangers a 45-33 lead with six minutes left in the game.

"He's had a couple of games like that for us this year," Reed said. "He's got a high basketball IQ, and knows where he is supposed to be. If he's aggressive on the offensive end, you get games like, tonight."

Bastian would answer with a three-point play to cut the lead to nine with 5:50 left, but DeVola scored inside again, and Masten capped the victory with five straight points to push the lead to 52-38.

The Panthers (25-3) have won more games than any season since 1997 at the school advance to Friday's quarterfinals where they will face fellow District 7 team Shaler, a 68-48 winner over Mechanicsburg in the first game of the doubleheader at Altoona. The Panthers swept Shaler in the regular season.

Naugle scored 14 points to lead the Seals, while Bastian finished with 11 points, and Luke Piecuch finished with 12 points.

Masten and DeVola were the only Panthers in double figures as Selinsgrove held Franklin Regional's two leading scorers — Cam Rowell and Rankin — to a combined 11 points. The two entered the game averaging a combined 32 points per game.




at Altoona H.S.


Selinsgrove (18-8) 45

Xaivier Jackson 1 0-0 2; Luke Piecuch 5 0-2 10; Ries Naugle 5 2-2 14; Jace Diehl 1 1-2 3; Gavin Bastian 4 1-1 11; Griffin Parker 1 0-0 2; Noah Walter 1 0-0 3. Totals 18 4-7 45.

3-point goals: Naugle 2, Bastian 2, Walter.

Did not score: Cam Smith, Mason Richter, Chase Carter.

Franklin Regional (25-3) 56

Colin Masten 7 6-7 21; Cam Rowell 2 3-5 7; Cooper Rankin 2 0-0 4; Conner Grassley 2 1-2 5; Fin Hutchinson 3 0-0 7; Drew DeVola 5 2-2 12. Totals 21 12-16 56.

3-point goals: Masten, Hutchinson.

Did not score: Zach Blueing, Josh Hudack, Jack Spagnol.

Score by quarters

Selinsgrove;10;9;11;15 — 45

Franklin Regional;13;11;13;19 — 56