WILKES-BARRE — Towanda’s greatest strength had disappeared. And a rough spot for Meyers was polished up very quickly.
Normally dangerous from long range, Towanda missed nearly every shot it took from behind the arc. The Mohawks, meanwhile, couldn’t fail from the foul line when it mattered the most.
Now the Mohawks are heading back to the state quarterfinals for the second time in three years.
Meyers shot a perfect 12-for-12 on free throws in the fourth quarter, grinding down the Black Knights 48-35 in Saturday’s PIAA Class 2A first round game at Wilkes.
Reaching that point required the Knights to miss all 15 three-pointers they took in the first half, as the Mohawks (20-7) held Towanda to just 12 points at halftime.
“At halftime I said, there’s no way that this team — that makes as many threes as they do during the season — that they’re not going to make some here,” Meyers coach Pat Toole said.
But the barrage never came.
Towanda’s lone charge came in the third quarter, mainly from working inside. The Knights pulled within 28-24, but it was as close as the score got.
Toole had been concerned by lulls for his team at both ends of the court.
“We’re running by three-point shooters and not closing out and boxing out the way we practiced against it,” Toole said. “I said to them that this was going to come down to rebounding and free-throw shooting.”
Did it ever.
Outside of guard Shahee Aurelus, Meyers has not been prolific from the stripe this season. But in the Mohawks’ biggest game of the season, they didn’t flinch.
Lamont Twyman hit 6-of-6 free throws in the final frame, Aurelus was 4-for-4 and Matt DeMarco went 2-for-2 to ensure the Knights (23-5) weren’t able to mount any sort of comeback.
Aurelus led the team with 14 points. Twyman had 10 and leading scorer Tyriek Steward had eight.
An important contributor was sophomore center Ryan Wasley, who scored 10. Aside from a couple buckets in the paint, Wasley also hit some mid-range shots that helped the District 2 champs stay on top.
When the Knights finally did connect on a three early in the fourth quarter to make it a five-point game, Wasley immediately answered by sticking one of those jumpers, preventing Towanda from seizing any momentum.
“Every night in the last four or five games, it’s been somebody different,” Toole said. “And Wasley really stepped up and had a really solid game for us.”
Noah Huff and Dave Rodenhizer combined to score all but five of Towanda’s 35 points, ending the season for the third seed out of District 4.
As for the Mohawks, they now face District 12’s West Catholic on Wednesday in the quarters, with the site and time to be determined.
“I just can’t be happier for a group of kids who a lot of people didn’t think could do what they’ve done,” Toole said. “Maybe a lot of it has to do with my past teams.
“When kids are around winning teams, they learn how to win games. There’s a winning attitude that permeates from that. … They expect to win.”
Meyers 48, Towanda 35
TOWANDA (35) — Dylan Bates 0 1-2 1, Noah Huff 5 5-6 17, Dave Rodenhizer 5 3-3 13, Noah Wheeler 0 0-0 0, Garrett Mosier 1 0-0 2, Bailey Potter 0 0-0 0, Tristan James 1 0-0 2, Lij Griffen 0 0-0 0, Brad Sparbanie 0 0-0 0, Nick Place 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 9-11 35.
MEYERS (48) — Shahee Aurelus 4 5-6 14, Lamont Twyman 2 6-7 10, Matt DeMarco 1 2-2 4, Tyriek Steward 3 2-2 8, Ryan Wasley 5 0-0 10, Tyon Thomas 1 0-2 2, Curtis Blue 0 0-0 0, Dominic Pittman 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 15-19 48.
Three-point field goals — TOW 2 (Huff 2); MEY 1 (Aurelus)