CLINTON TWP. — After a disappointing start to the season, the Lackawanna Trail boys basketball team is starting to hit its stride.
Senior center Shawn Jones scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and junior forward Zach Stec chipped in with 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the Lions over Forest City, 81-54, in a Lackawanna League Division 4 game Jan. 10.
Forest City (0-8, 0-1 Div. 4) used a fast-paced attack to take an early 9-1 lead, but Lackawanna Trail ended the first quarter with a 12-4 spurt, capped by a basket from Josh Rzucidlo, who scored eight of his 14 points in the quarter, to even the score.
“Once we got the ball over half court and broke the press, we were able to run our offense which was really effective,” Jones said.
Lackawanna Trail began the second quarter with an 11-0 run and outscored the Foresters, 32-9, to lead 45-22 at the half.
“We slowed the game down to our pace,” Stec said. “We moved the ball well and shots were falling.”
Stec hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 14 points in the quarter.
“He’s really struggled with his shot early in the season,” Lackawanna Trail head coach Christian Sunseri said. “The game has slowed down a little bit for him in league play. He has time to set his feet and knock them down.
“It’s about playing inside-out for us. We want the defense to sink in and then get the ball out for open shots.”
Sunseri also understood it would be critical for the Lions to dictate the tempo if they were going to be successful.
“They really try to push the pace and try to get you to play their game,” he said of Forest City. “Our big focus was to play at our pace. We played the night before and I knew we were going to have some tired legs.”
Jones scored 12 points in the third quarter when the Lions increased their lead to 65-39.
“Our coach told us, ‘don’t take your foot off the gas pedal,’” Jones said. “We wanted to finish the game strong.”
After going winless in the non-league portion of the schedule, Lackawanna Trail is 2-0 in Division 4 play.
“They’ve been focused in practice the past couple days,” Sunseri said. “They really learned from the first eight games. You don’t want to go 0-8, but we played some really tough teams. They’ve stayed mentally tough and it’s paying off now. When we’ve executed, things have gone well.”
Jones has scored a combined 47 points in the team’s last two games and believes the squad is developing well.
“We’re all clicking,” he said. “We’re starting to really come together and get momentum.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.