At 6-foot-7 and 315 pounds, Pete Borum is an imposing presence in the middle for the Lake-Lehman basketball team.
When Mason Gross got out and ran the floor with his Pittston Area teammates, however, he more than countered any impact Borum had on the championship game of the 48th annual Robert McGrane Tournament.
Gross scored 19 of his 25 points in the second half to lead the Patriots to a 55-45 victory over the Black Knights Friday night at the Wyoming Valley CYC.
“Pete’s a great player; he’s incredibly strong,” Gross said. “I wasn’t really going into him. I was just making cuts and shooting over him. That’s the only way you can do it against him.
“Defensively, you just front him in the post and make sure he doesn’t get an easy catch. The guards did a real good job pressuring the ballhandlers.”
The 6-foot-5 senior went 8-for-10 from the floor and 3-for-4 from the line in the second half on his way to tournament Most Valuable Player honors.
After playing at a pace that fit Lake-Lehman’s style for much of the third quarter, the Patriots broke away as the fourth quarter began.
“We wanted to push the tempo,” Patriots coach Alan Kiesinger said. “I think we’re at our best when we push the tempo.”
Gross scored eight straight points, hitting a 10-footer from the left side with two seconds left in the third quarter then scoring the first six points of the fourth quarter to turn a 38-31 margin into a comfortable 46-31 lead with 6:10 to play. That was part of a stretch in which Gross scored 12 points in 6:22.
“We really run the floor,” said Gross, who also grabbed five rebounds and blocked four shots. “I think we were faster than them and really beat them down the floor.
“Once, we beat them down the floor that opened up spots in the half-court game.”
The Patriots also got all-tournament performances from Tyler McGarry and Michael Schwab on the way to the title.
McGarry had a game-high 19 points in Thursday’s 64-53, first-round win over Hanover Area. He scored 10 of those points, including a momentum-boosting dunk, to help the Patriots pull away from a tie game during the fourth quarter.
Then, McGarry contributed 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists to the championship game victory.
Schwab kept the Patriots transition game running with seven assists in the final.
“It’s a tough game plan, especially against a guy who takes up so much space and is so physical, but we know our go-to guy is Mason,” Schwab said. “In every circumstance, we do a good job of distributing the ball and it’s really important for us to play inside-out.
“Basically, when he gets touches, we play our best.”
James Emmett had five points, starting and ending a streak of eight straight, to put Pittston Area ahead to stay, 10-4, in the first quarter.
Schwab and McGarry each had 3-pointers during a 12-point run to a 22-7 lead with 6:10 left in the half.
“One thing coach stresses is knowing your role and I know my role is to distribute and make open shots,” Schwab said. “I try to get the best looks possible for our bigs. Whether its running the fast-break or running a set offense, we’re a flexible team.”
Lake-Lehman used a 13-4 run late in the half to get back in the game, but the closest the Black Knights got was cutting the deficit to six points once each in the second and third quarters.
Adam Dizbon finished with 17 points for Lake-Lehman and made the all-tournament team, but Pittston Area held him to 1-for-11 shooting from 3-point range. Borum, who received the tournament’s Sportsmanship Award, had 13 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Mike Symion added 11 points.
Hanover Area’s Jake Barber and Holy Redeemer’s Brian Banas, who each scored 21 points when Hanover Area won the third-place game, 59-48, completed the all-tournament team.
Borum had scored 23 points in Thursday’s first round when Lake-Lehman shot 9-for-13 from the line in overtime to pull out a 62-59 victory over Holy Redeemer after letting a nine-point, fourth-quarter lead get away.
Darius Washington hit two 3-pointers in the overtime and led Holy Redeemer with 17.
Pittston Area switched offensive leaders throughout its win over Hanover Area.
Gross scored nine of his 15 points to get the Patriots out to a 15-8 lead after one quarter.
Emmett had nine of his 11 points in the second quarter to build the advantage to 35-25 at the half.
McGarry took over after Hanover Area rallied to create a 44-44 tie after three.
Pittston Area has won five straight since an 0-3 start.