As the team's three leading scorers walked off for television interviews, the game's bruised defensive star and lead offensive facilitator unwound in anonymity.
Not that he cared. His team won and that was all that mattered.
Kyle Datres helped hold standout guard Travis Conrad, the area's second-leading scorer, to nine points, dealt 10 assists and grabbed five rebounds as Loyalsock downed visiting Lewisburg, 64-55 Tuesday in a showdown of the HAC-II's last undefeated teams.
Roger Wilson (21) of Loyalsock fights for a rebound Tuesday vs. Lewisburg. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"Getting everybody involved and moving, that's my job and I could not care less how many points I score as long as we get the win in the end," Datres said. "We can play with the best but you can't do that just one night. We have the second half of the season and we have to show it there, too."
Loyalsock (9-2, 5-0 HAC-II) handed Lewisburg (10-1, 4-1) its first loss as every player did his part. Roger Wilson was dominant inside, scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds while fellow post player Ben Sosa also had a double-double, going for 14 points and 10 rebounds. Omar Little guarded Conrad well when Datres was out and Mike Pastore scored 14 second-half points as Loyalsock went on a 22-7 third-quarter run and opened an 18-point lead.
Still, Datres was the one who made it all go. He had five assists by halftime, consistently fed Wilson and Sosa and disrupted Conrad all night. The Lewisburg guard entered averaging 18 points per game, but Datres blanketed him and Conrad had just two points through three quarters as Loyalsock built its 50-32 advantage.
Datres did all that despite banging his head hard off the floor early in the fourth quarter. He was inadvertently hit with an elbow and then knocked to the ground and the thud could be heard throughout the gym. Datres missed only a minute, though, and right after he returned he found Sosa inside for another basket.
"I had to go get checked out. I didn't have a choice or else I would have been right back in there," Datres said. "He (Conrad) is a great player and you have to stay in his face 24/7 or else you know he's putting the ball in the basket. We brought some older guys into practice to help me out and play defense and it really helped out tonight."
So did Wilson who played one of his best games. The senior center scored at will in the first half, producing Loyalsock's last 10 points and made 12 of 18 shots, showing some nice range. Wilson scored the first half's final four points as the Lancers went ahead 28-25 at halftime and never trailed again.
"Roger played a whale of a game. He wanted the ball," Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. "That's maybe the first time he was sitting down and exploding upward and he actually made it look easy."
The first half was everything many expected as both teams traded baskets and the lead changed hands 10 times. Loyalsock, though, owned the third quarter and looked as good as it has all year, playing great defense and displaying an impressive inside-outside game. Wilson hit three more shots, making him 8 for his last 9 at that point, Pastore hit two 3-pointers, Little had three of his four assists and Sosa continued emerging inside as a big-time threat.
The Lancers held Lewisburg to just one third-quarter field goal and made 9 of 15 shots as Lewisburg was forced to take two timeouts in an effort to stop the run.
"They were in rhythm," Insinger said. "They are great practice players and they exhibit that daily."
Lewisburg made a big fourth-quarter comeback and twice cut the deficit to seven. Had Pastore not hit four straight 1-and-1 foul shots in the final 23 seconds, the Dragons might have really made things interesting. Still, it was a confidence boost for a team that hosts Loyalsock Feb. 9 and that won the fourth quarter, 23-14.
"Right now a loss is hurting them, but when they sit back and reflect on the way we played in the fourth quarter I think they're going to feel good about it and build on those good things that happened," Lewisburg coach John Vaji said. "We were a little more aggressive, took it to the hole and got to the line."
Erich Kline played an outstanding game. Lewisburg's senior center scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds while making some good post moves and hitting two 3-pointers. Sam Allen, a 6-foot-6 freshman, combines with Kline inside to give Lewisburg a nice inside duo and scored seven of his points in the fourth quarter.
"Kline played awesome tonight," Vaji said. "He hit those threes and that's the dimension he gives us with a little scoring punch and that's great."
Travis Conrad 3 2-3 9, Erich Kline 8 4-4 22, Sam Allen 3 4-5 10, Mike Driscoll 2 3-4 7, Jesse Flannery 3 0-0 7, Nick Costigliola 0 0-0 0, Matt Fedorajka 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 13-16 55.
Roger Wilson 12 0-3 24, Kyle Datres 4 0-1 8, Omar Little 1 0-2 2, Ben Sosa 7 0-0 14, Jimmy Webb 0 0-0 0, Mike Pastore 4 4-4 14, Ryan Bogaczyk 1 0-0 2, Luke Glavin 0 0-0 0. Totals 28 4-10 64.
Lewisburg12 13 7 23-55
Loyalsock12 16 22 14-64
3-pointers: Lewisburg 4 (Kline 2, Conrad, Flannery); Loyalsock 2 (Pastore 2).
Records: Loyalsock 9-2, 5-0 HAC-II. Lewisburg 10-1, 4-1.