A pair of improbable seasons has Brookville and Loyalsock Township competing for the PIAA Class AAA Title. The Raiders scored a pair of gut-check victories over two strong opponents to arrive in Hershey, while Loyalsock Township topped two perennial powers to get to the title game.
(Archived Photo from 2019-20 by: Jared Bakaysa)
The Loyalsock Township Lancers hail from Williamsport, Pa, and are 24-1 overall in 2021. The Lancers advanced to the finals after topping Math, Civics, and Sciences 83-70 in a closely fought semifinal battle. The undersized Lancers used their strong 2-3 zone to keep MCS at bay, containing their star players and clogging up the interior. Loyalsock also topped Executive Education Academy in the quarterfinal round, another top-level opponent.
Offensively, the Lancers are led by Dom Jennings, a prolific three-point shooter. The Ali brothers, Idris and Saraj, also provide vital offensive output for the Lancers both inside and beyond the arc. The 2-3 zone has come up big for Loyalsock, forcing teams to settle for contested threes while using their athleticism and length to make driving layups difficult.
Brookville is 23-2 this season, winning games over Kane, Chestnut Ridge, Ellwood City Lincoln, and Bishop Guilfoyle to advance to the State Finals. The Raiders played particularly well in their two most recent playoff contests, using their steady offense and strong ball-hawking defense to top two traditionally strong programs in Ellwood City Lincoln and Bishop Guilfoyle. Brookville runs a flexible offense, demonstrating the ability to play fast or slow the tempo. The Raiders also make the most out of their possessions, rarely settling for bad shots and relying on strong drives to the basket to open up solid shooting opportunities from beyond the arc.
Jace Miner is Brookville’s key player on offense, and he possesses tremendous skill as a scorer and as a facilitator. Miner’s ability to hit threes is also valuable, as it forces teams to guard him closely, opening up more possibilities to drive inside. The Raiders aren’t a one-man show, as they receive solid scoring contributions from Danny Lauer, Hunter Geer, and Robert Keth, all of whom possess the ability to score both inside and from deep. Defensively, the Raiders have a high defensive work rate and are solid on the boards, limiting the opposition’s second-chance points.
To emerge victorious, Brookville must find a way through Loyalsock’s 2-3 zone. While the Raiders shoot well from beyond the arc, they must resist the urge to settle for poor long-range shots that appear enticing when faced with a 2-3 zone. If Brookville can continue to drive the lane, they can create open threes and have more efficient offensive possessions. Defensively, the Raiders’ good athleticism and length should help keep Loyalsock’s key men at bay, but Brookville must be sure not to allow Jennings to heat up from deep.
The State Championship will be played at Hershey and will occur at 2:30 pm on Saturday, March 27.