By BRETT R. CROSSLEY
For the Loyalsock Lancers
WILLIAMSPORT—The beautiful thing about sports is there always seems to a be a shot at redemption waiting for those athletes ready to make amends for past performances.
It requires work and a willingness to face the mistakes of the past to overcome and excel through the new challenges ahead. Recently, Loyalsock’s Gerald Ross was forced into a situation his coach called a possible chance at a “lift lesson”.
Ross was charged with a technical during a late loss to Montoursville. It contributed to the Lancer’s deficit. It also took Ross out of the game as Montoursville completed it comeback to avenge a mid season loss. It was a devastating moment for the both the team and the player.
Luckily for Loyalsock, the rare moment did little to define the team and player as both bounced back nicely to redeem themselves. Ross posted a team-high 33 points in Loyalsock’s following game, but as a whole the team played much better during a tough road contest against Jersey Shore.
The Bulldogs are not an easy opponent, especially on the road. The school is known for having a committed student section that loves to support their players. Loyalsock weathered the environment throughout the game to secure a 67-54 win.
“Saturday was tough,” Ross said. “We started off well, but it was just a tough game overall.”
Ross opened the game with 13 points to lead the Lancers in scoring. It was an outstanding start to the game. It built a lead and quickly got Ross, who is referred to by his coach as one of the top athletes on the floor regardless of the game, on track. He proved everything his coach said, connecting on multiple shots from difficult angles to keep the defense guessing throughout the opening quarter.
The first eight minutes displayed exactly what type of athlete Ross has become over the years. It showed growth both mentally and physically. He distributed the ball well, helping move it around throughout to find open shooters. Mitchell Klingerman benefited greatly from it, nailing seven points over the first minute of the game. He jumped out to clear a three and then followed that with two quick field goals to bring his early totals up and keep Loyalsock motivated.
“It was a good start,” Klingerman said. “That good start really helped us in the long run. It just happened I was at the right place at the right time and my teammates found me.”
Adversity struck for Ross in the middle of the game when Loyalsock’s offense slowed to only scored nine points in the second quarter. It allowed Jersey Shore to comeback, but a lapse in defense through the third had it on the ropes. Junior Armstrong matched Ross’s output throughout the third, but Ross and the Lancers just wouldn’t break. A defensive adjustment worked as Loyalsock contained Armstrong enough to hold him to just six fourth quarter points.
As the defense worked to limit the Bulldogs, Ross came back for a strong finish over the final eight minutes to get his team back on track. Again, the basket just appeared to be made for Ross, who barely let the ball hit the floor with his efforts. Ross, an All-state selection in football, overcame a lot for the performance, but it never really showed. He opened with an outstanding effort to get his team in front and continued to lead it throughout the win.
“It looked huge,” Ross said of the basket. “I remember I shot a shot from the baseline, didn’t jump and my arms felt heavy and it still went in. It’s just that night.”
Ross will be a key piece for the Lancers moving forward. He has provided valuable leadership, scoring, and athleticism. His ability to overcome difficult situation makes him that much better for the Loyalsock.
Loyalsock 67, Jersey Shore 54
Brandon Bauman 2 0-0 4; Gerald Ross 3 3-5 33; Collin Graver 1 1-2 3; Anthony Pastore 2 2-4 7; Connor Watkins 2 2-2 6; Mitchell Klingerman 4 0-0 9; Bam Brima 0 0-0 0; Aiden Gair 1 2-2 5; Ryan Sullivan 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 10-15 67.
Jersey Shore (54)
Darren Stetts 0 0-0 0; Jason Dincher 3 0-0 6; Hunter Frantz 0 0-0 0; Nate Ewing 8 1-3 21; Tanner Lorson 1 0-2 2; Cody Stetts 0 1-2 1; Junior Armstrong 9 6-9 24. Totals 21 8-16 54.
LOY 26 9 16 16–67
JS 13 8 19 14–54
3–Point Goals: Loyalsock 7 (Ross 4, Pastore, Klingerman, Gair). Jersey Shore 4 (Ewing).
Records: Loyalsock 14-5. Jersey Shore 9-11.
Next: Loyalsock at Danville, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. Jersey Shore at Selinsgrove, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.