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Game Recap: West Shamokin 61, Homer-Center 46

By Josh Shreckengost

West Shamokin senior forward Ezeck Olinger (22) hits a mid-range jumper in the third quarter of the Wolves' 61-46 come-from-behind win over Homer-Center on Tuesday night. Olinger had 15 points and had a strong game defensively for West Shamokin, which raised its 2021 record to 4-0.

Rural Valley, Pa. — West Shamokin's boys varsity basketball team had yet to be tested early on in the 2021 campaign, but that's not to say head coach Judd McCullough wasn't expecting it.

"I told the guys in the locker room, when you start out [undefeated] the way we have, there's going to be a lot of respect, but you're also going to have a target on your back," McCullough said. "Homer-Center is a great program and they bring back a lot. The Sardone kid is a beast and they have some good pieces. We knew going in at some point in time that we were going to have one of those games where things weren't going our way and I was proud of the way we responded."

Though they had cruised to a 3-0 record with all three of those wins featuring the new running clock mercy rule in the second half, McCullough's Wolves fell behind big early to Homer-Center in Tuesday night's Heritage Conference contest at the Wolves' Den. The Wildcats overwhelmed the Wolves with physicality, usually in the form of senior forward Ryan Sardone. The 6-5, 200-pound senior wreaked havoc in the paint and helped Homer-Center jump out to a stunning 18-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. Sardone scored 11 points in the frame and was a terror on the boards for the Wildcats, who pounded the ball inside as West Shamokin settled for long three-point attempts.

Down by as many as 15 early in the second quarter, McCullough changed the way his team attacked the Wildcats' 2-3 zone. Instead of moving the ball around the perimeter and trying to find an open look from beyond the arc, the Wolves moved point guard Bo Swartz into the middle and allowed him to distribute. It was this adjustment which allowed the Wolves to trim the deficit to eight