ADAMS TWP — Setting the tone early turned out to be a theme in the first round of the Scott Lang Memorial Boys Basketball Tournament Friday night at Mars.
Both the Planets and Seneca Valley took advantage of first-half turnovers to set up lopsided wins over Ford City (93-62) and Shady Side Academy (66-32), respectively.
Mars and Seneca were scheduled to face each other in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday while Ford City and Shady Side were to meet in the consolation game at 6 p.m.
The Sabers were unable to handle Mars’ defense, which forced 14 turnovers in the first quarter and helped the Planets build a 22-2 lead late in the period.
Ford City’s starting lineup included a sophomore and a freshman while Mars began the game with seasoned veterans — seniors Garrett Ashbaugh, Matt Getsy, Josh Goetz, Mitch Buzard and junior Owen Nearhoof.
“When you have as much experience back as we do, it’s a big advantage early in the season,” said Mars coach Rob Carmody.
Mars featured five players with at least six points by halftime, by which point the Planets’ lead had ballooned to 54-24.
One bright spot for Ford City was junior guard Jesse Sequeira, who scored all nine of his team’s points in the first quarter and ended the night with a game-high 26.
“The biggest positive I’m taking from tonight is that the young guys in our lineup got a lot of experience,” said Ford City coach Greg Hutcherson. “I attribute the problems we had with turnovers to the fact that Mars has a great defense. We wanted to start the season off against a tough team and we did.”
Mars’ starters began to come out of the game in the third quarter. The team was led in scoring by Zach May, who actually began the game on the bench and came in to score 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Buzard added 16 points and Ashbaugh 11.
“Our guys shared the ball well,” said Carmody. “When you have a lot of players who can shoot the ball, it feeds itself.
“This was a great way to begin the season, getting a win in the first Scott Lang Memorial Tournament.”
Seneca Valley 66, Shady Side Academy 32
The Indians encountered trouble early on due to SV’s height.
Alex Snyder, a 6-foot-7 senior center, blocked four shots in the first three minutes of play as the Raiders jumped out to a 14-4 lead in the first eight minutes. R.J. McCauley (6-3), Easton Bazzoli (6-5) and Zach Spangler (6-4) also wreaked havoc against Shady Side’s noticeably smaller lineup, which turned the ball over eight times in the opening quarter.
“We get to see our guys every day in practice and forget how big they are,” said Raiders’ coach Victor Giannotta. “I guess we are pretty tall. I think Shady Side was a bit intimidated by us.”
The Indians may also have been intimidated by their halftime deficit of 30-9.
Like Mars, the Raiders received balanced scoring. Bazzoli scored a game-high 16 points, McCauley had 12 and Snyder and Mike Smith both chipped in with eight.
“The balanced scoring attack that we had can only mean that we shared the ball well,” said Giannotta.
SV did miss 21 shots in the first half, though its defense held the Indians to just three-of-15 from the field in the same span.
“The effort was there, but I would like to see us get better with our execution,” said Giannotta.
Kyle Olander paced Shady Side with 11 points.