MERCERSBURG – The Waynesboro Indians varsity boys’ basketball team used a second-half surge to defeat the James Buchanan Rockets on Friday.
Waynesboro used a combination of stifling defense, a patient half-court offense and opportunistic transition points to turn a 24-17 second-quarter lead to a final score of 60-41 in a Mid-Penn Colonial Division game.
“The story played out the same as the other game (against James Buchanan),” said Waynesboro head coach Tom Hoffman, whose team beat the Rockets 62-42 on Dec. 14. “We were up six and Michael Young hit a three at the buzzer at the half to put us up nine. Tonight, we were up seven and Ryan Shaffer hit a three and put us up 10.
“It gives you a little breathing room and momentum going into the half.”
There’s nothing like more breathing room to help things along, especially on the road in a cramped gymnasium.
In the early going, all indications pointed to another rout. Jaylon Bean scored the first six points for Waynesboro. Shaffer added two more points and made a nice interior pass to Reese Cover, who finished with a layup to give the Indians a 10-2 lead at 6:26 of the first quarter.
But James Buchanan didn’t fall away and let Waynesboro pull away before each team had a chance to get their legs.
The Rockets outscored the Tribe 5-0 in the final seconds of the first period and the early moments of the second quarter to cut the deficit to 12-9.
James Buchanan had seized the momentum, and its 2-3 zone that collapsed on Shaffer and Bean in the lane slowed down Waynesboro’s efficient half-court offense and gave the Rockets a chance. But missed shots and turnovers resulted in futile attempts at a comeback against their cross-county opponent.
“It didn’t feel like we were playing hard enough,” Hoffman said. “We had a week off. We didn’t play Tuesday, because the game (against Shippensburg) was canceled. We came out with some energy because we hadn’t played in a week. Then, I think a little lag and fatigue set in because we hadn’t played in a week.”
Each time the Rockets crept closer, the Indians responded with a basket. It was Shaffer when James Buchanan pulled to within three points again, and, with the score 14-11, Cooper Hough drained a three-pointer to make it 17-11. The score was 22-17 when Waynesboro scored the final five points of the first half to make it 27-17 at the break.
“Anytime we are at our best is because our defense fuels it,” Hoffman said of his team’s play in the second half. “I thought we kind of locked in a little bit and created a couple turnovers, some things that led to some easier buckets. In the first half we were dribbling down the court to play the zone before trying to score quick.”
Waynesboro outscored James Buchanan 18-5 in the third quarter to claim a 45-22 lead after three quarters of play.
The Tribe’s scoring trio of Shaffer, Bean and Cover came through again with double digit scoring nights. Shaffer led the way with 14 points, followed by Bean with 12 and Cover with 10.
Shaffer pulled down eight rebounds, and Tanyon Shaull had six boards. Bean and Cover finished with five rebounds apiece.
Waynesboro (10-2) continue their road swing with a Mid-Penn Colonial Division matchup at Big Spring on Tuesday. The Indians host West Perry next Friday.