Millionaires Survive Scare With Cougars 60-57

By Ken Myers

Salem Township, PA-The Williamsport Millionaires and Hazleton Cougars have had some classic games over the years. Some have happened in the regular season, but lately, it has been happening during district and state playoff sessions.

Last night was no different as the Millionaires survived a furious rally by the Cougars in the final period to win the district 2-4 AAAA title 60-57 before a SRO crowd of about 2000 people at the Berwick Varsity Gymnasium. It was the first district title for the Millionaires since 2002. The Millionaires are now 21-3, while the Cougars fall to 20-6. Both teams advance on to the PIAA playoffs that start on Tuesday with some play in games.

Sean Ruane led a balanced Millionaire attack with 13 points. Dontahe Jordan added 12, and Jadiah Lynch and Shariff Monroe each added 10 for the Millionaires. Paris Cleveland and Adam Davis led the Cougars with 14 points each, and Christian Laputka added 11.

The Millionaires jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead on baskets by Isaaiah Twine and Dontahe Jordan. It shocked some of the Hazleton fans that made the short trip to Berwick. The Cougars would promptly wake up and go on a 9-0 run holding the Millionaires scoreless for 4:33. The Millionaires were fighting an old bugaboo of missing many easy shots and frequent turnovers. Shariff Monroe’s basket with 1:50 left in the period ended the run and scoring for the period, and after the opening stanza, thew Cougars led 9-6. Not exactly a fun game to be watching on WNEP2 and WYLN in Hazleton.

The Millionaires would wake up in the second period with one of their offensive explosions that fans have enjoyed this season. They outscored the Cougars 24-6 during the second period. Hazleton was the team that could not make their shots and turned the ball over on a frequent basis. The Millionaires would take the lead for good on a 3 pointer by Sean Ruane with 4:08 left in the half. Two foul shots by the Cougars’ Christian Laputka cut the deficit to 1 at 16-15 with 3:57 left, but the Millionaires shocked the Cougars and the fans in the warm Varsity Gym by exploding on a 14-0 run for the last 3:57 of the half. At halftime, the Millionaires led 30-15.

The Millionaires still controlled things in the third period outscoring the Cougars 18-17. They would increase their lead as high as 18 points before the Cougars would cut it as low as 11 points. At the turn for home, the Millionaires led 48-32. Would the Millionaires put the Cougars away in the final period to win easily?

The answer was no. The Cougars would outscore the Millionaires 25-12 during the final period and give every fan heart failure. They mounted a furious rally and cut the deficit as close as four points before Dontahe Jordan hit 2 foul shots with 5.7 seconds left to seal the victory for the Millionaires. Adam Davis would hit a 3 pointer from the corner at the final horn, but it was too little, too late for the Cougars as the Millionaires celebrated their first district title since 2002 when Mike Bailey was coaching the Millionaires

The next game for the Millionaires will be next Saturday, 3/7/09, when the Millionaires play the Cedar Cliff Colts from Camp Hill in the first round of the PIAA AAAA playoffs. The Colts are the 6th place team from district 3 (Harrisburg area) The game will be plated at a site and time TBA, but it will be in the district 4 area. The Cougars will be playing on Tuesday, 3/3/09, vs the Glen Mills Bulls, the 9th place team from district 1 at a site and time TBA.

Linescore of the game:

Hazleton: 9-6-17-25=57
Williamsport: 6-24-18-12=60

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