SPORTS DIGEST by Bill Bhyam

Sports announcer, writer Bill Byham and famous for "That's 30" signoff

Sports announcer, writer Bill Byham and famous for "That's 30" signoff

Williamsport  – WHOOOOEEEEEE! Williamsport over State College by one with no time left, Lady South over Benton in OT, Lycoming over Albright with a full game effort and who is going to stop Gene Bruno’s Wildcats and the Lady Wildcats of Allison Tagliaferi as they follow a goal of reaching national play?

Asked to define the game of basketball I once wise cracked that it was “ballet with short pants and sweat”. I played the game through YMCA, high school and college plus a very short stint of Eastern League professional ball. It was my luck to coach the sport in college (How many remember the Williamsport School of Commerce teams?), as a high school assistant and as a high school head coach.

It is, I think, my favorite sport to watch especially when it is being played right and sometimes it is very hard to define the word right.
Up above are games that have already been played. Each of those games took crowds, and I was one of the crowd or a listener, high and higher! They were fantastic full court games where the players, no matter their talent, came to play with every ounce of their being.

The State College versus Williamsport game has been my top rated game that I have seen this season. State College came in as the underdog because their record was not close to what Williamsport had recorded but when the ball was tossed up all records were forgotten as the teams played each other using a blistering pace. The speed of the game truly amazed me, young men moving up and down the court like race horses yet still in command of the needed skills of the game. It was almost as if we were watching a game of ping pong where the players were the ball and the paddle in one body.

There wasn’t a single moment during the game where any fan on hand could turn and say to the next person – “this one is over.” Why? Because neither team ever held a lead solid enough to coast with. When State scored with 0.6.4 seconds left to take a one point lead, Williamsport called the time out.

Now, put this to your mind. 6.4 seconds!! A couple of blinks. 6 seconds. Millionaires ball, full court to go. short in bound pass to Jadiah Lynch. He turned up court with a fast dribble. State is in a man for man but Lynch is speed dribbling toward the other end like there is no one else on the court, right down the middle. Right to the hoop! Lays it in! Horn sounds! Game is over! Williamsport by one! What a finish! I said later to WRAK’s Ken Sawyer I wish I could have heard his call on the play. One, maybe two breaths, was probably all he was allowed.

My second best thriller was one I had to miss. Benton at South in Lady Ball. They had met very early in the season. South got the win over the Benton who was getting off to a season where they figured they could go all the way. They came into South for Game 2 and it was all it could be.
Benton got up and stayed up for a lot of the game but with 2:15 remaining their lead of seven points looked massive. Having seen the Lady Mounties play some I got “into” the game through Todd Bartley of WYLC/ESPN Williamsport as he lifted his broadcast to stay with the South comeback. Several good plays led to the final major shot, a Tierney Pfirman game tying shot out of the corner, shot over two Benton defenders, that sent the game the game into over time! The OT was as good as a second game as the now 21-1 Lady Mounties pulled it out to capture their Heartland Conference title plus a top seed in the upcoming District 4 tussle.

Let me throw one more game your way. Albright at Lycoming. It was one of those days for the Warriors. This is a ball club that should have had it. It was there. Talent, veterans, good shooters, excellent board people but some games it was all mechanical. Their last outing before Albright arrived was not a good day. Sluggish, shots that were not good shots but now Albright comes into Lamade Gymnasium and it was a Warrior win from the opening toss. Every person in a Warrior uniform came to play. they were showing excitement warming up and kept that same face on to start the game with a 15-0 run. It was all Warrior ball, fast pace, hard on the boards, use the picks, take the best shots. It was awesome!
Since then the Warriors have cooled off versus Conference foes and should finish out of the race.

The Lady Warriors of Lycoming, coached by veteran Chris Ditzler, have had a great overall record which was 15-7 at the end of last week but their Commonwealth Conference record was set at 4-6 and that should keep them out of the post season.

You know what is also awesome? The two basketball teams at Penn College. Look. Every year Penn College can challenge the teams in the PSUAC. They are rated every season in the Top 5 and every year they go out and challenge the rankings.

Gene Bruno’s Wildcats finished last weekend with an overall record of 13-9 and an impressive 11-3 mark in the PSUAC. Allison Tagliaferri’s Lady Wildcats are now 15-8 overall and 11-3 in PSUAC play.

Each team has a couple of regular season games left with a goal of being among the PSUAC’s Elite Eight on the 20th. The next major event both team are aiming at would be the PSUAC Final Four at Bryce Jordan over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th.

This year, for the first time, the PSUAC champion should get an invitation to the first ever national championship tournament which is scheduled for the week of March 3 through 7 at Lafayette.

Toss in the sectionals, districts, regional and states of wrestling and there is a ton of winter sports excitement left!

That’s 30

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