The season has changed but Kyle Datres plays basketball like a football player. The quarterback in him dealt 13 assists Saturday against Bloomsburg.
The all-star defensive back in Datres made the game's pivotal defensive play.
Datres jumped in front of a pass at midcourt with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, made the steal and converted a drive, delivering the decisive blow that finally knocked out determined Bloomsburg. Datres made five steals while Roger Wilson had another double-double as Loyalsock downed Bloomsburg, 68-57, in the District 4 Class AA quarterfinals at Montoursville.
Kyle Datres of Loyalsock dribbles as Bloomsburg’s Colton Hock defends Saturday at Montoursville. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
Loyalsock (22-3) won its seventh straight as it opened its title defense and next meets Heartland Conference runner-up Lewisburg for a fourth time in the semifinals.
"He threw a bad pass and I was there to take it away," Datres said. "It turned things around there at the end."
Bloomsburg (16-8) had cut an 18-point third-quarter deficit to six and had all the momentum with three minutes remaining. In a flash, though, Datres changed everything. The Panthers had just rebounded a miss and had a chance to cut the deficit to four or fewer. Instead, Datres used the instincts that have made him a two-time all-star safety.
Loyalsock had dropped out of its full-court pressure but Datres still was able to jump the route. He then drove through two defenders and turned the steal into points that put the Lancers up 64-56. The Panthers did not pull closer than seven again.
"I wasn't even planning on taking a steal there," Datres said. "I was just going to pick up the ball at halfcourt and try to pressure him."
"That was a big key," Loyalsock coach Ron Insinger said. "Ironically we had pulled off the full-court pressure, but he just happened to turn around and it was there."
For a while, it looked like Loyalsock would cruise to its fifth straight district playoff win. The Lancers hit 26 of their first 47 shots and built a 49-31 lead early in the third quarter. Loyalsock was dissecting Bloomsburg's defense and forcing several turnovers. In one rapid 25-second, second-quarter span Loyalsock scored seven straight points and extended its lead from five to 12.
Wilson was a force inside, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds while Mike Pastore had 11 points, six assists and five steals. Datres helped facilitate everything and had his 13 assists by midway through the third quarter.
"Kyle played really heady," Insinger said. "He threaded the needle when he had to and he attacked the gaps."
But Bloomsburg would not go away. Zach Mrozek would not let it. The standout senior guard was brilliant, scoring 14 of his game-high 23 points in the second half. He added six assists and three times pulled Bloomsburg within six in the fourth quarter.
The steal finally cooled Bloomsburg and the Panthers did not connect on another field goal over the game's final three minutes. The Lancers long ago proved how talented they are, but they also showed how tough they are in that fourth quarter, holding Bloomsburg to nine points.
"We knew coming in he (Mrozek) was a great player," Datres said. "We need to work on our defense a whole lot but we buckled down in the fourth quarter and that's what won the game for us. "
Omar Little also made a key steal in the final two minutes and Ben Sosa finished with 10 points. Ryan Bogaczyk added nine points, scoring them all in the first half. The Lancers built a 41-29 halftime lead and Luke Glavin hit a buzzer-beater to end the first quarter when Datres hit him with a mid-air pass.
Loyalsock now turns its attention to Lewisburg which it is meeting in the playoffs for a second straight year. Both are ranked among the state's top 10 and met in the Heartland Conference championship last week. Loyalsock has won those first three games, but all were close and the Lancers know now that they mean nothing. It is only the next one that matters.
"No matter how you slice it, it's tough to avoid looking ahead and they had their sights set on Lewisburg again," Insinger said. "The kids set some lofty goals at the beginning of the season and one of them is to win the district title, to be a repeat, so we have to go through Lewisburg."
Zach Mrozek 7 7-7 23, Kevin Gross 5 4-6 15, Tyler Vincent 1 2-2 5, Zach Ashford 0 0-0 0, Colton Hock 4 0-0 8, Dylan Everhart 0 6-6 6, John Klingerman 0 0-2 0. Totals 17 19-23 57.
Roger Wilson 10 2-3 22, Kyle Datres 4 1-5 9, Omar Little 1 3-4 5, Ben Sosa 4 2-3 10, Mike Pastore 5 0-3 11, Ryan Bogaczyk 4 1-2 9, Tommy Baggett 0 0-0 0, Luke Glavin 1 0-0 2, Robbie Klein 0 0-1 0. Totals 29 9-21 68.
Bloomsburg14 15 19 9-57
Loyalsock22 19 15 12-68
3-pointers: Bloomsburg 4 (Mrozek 2, Gross, Vincent); Loyalsock 1 (Pastore).
Records: Loyalsock 22-3. Bloomsburg 16-8.