The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 7, 2014

North rally bolstered by Lee, hot shooting

Mike Mastovich

JOHNSTOWN — Bishop Carroll’s Marcus Lee has had a hectic schedule while juggling a deep PIAA playoff run, a series of three all-star basketball events and the early portion of the scholastic track and field season.

Lee didn’t miss a step on Sunday afternoon. The 6-foot-6 center earned most valuable player honors in the North boys’ comeback 87-85 victory over the South in the seventh annual AmeriServ Senior Hoops Showcase game.

Lee scored 19 points and had 11 rebounds in front of an estimated 650 fans at the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center.

The Bishop Carroll standout used a number of moves to tally points inside for the North. He even credited his track experience with giving him enough of a boost to score on a crowd-pleasing jam.

“It helped me dunk today. That was the high jump,” said Lee, a key part of Bishop Carroll’s LHAC and District 6-A championship team that advanced to the Class A state semifinals. “Basketball is a different game. There is a lot more changing direction and cutting.”

Lee also competes in the triple jump and high jump for Bishop Carroll.

The North boys trailed 57-50 at halftime, as the South made 11 of its 17 3-point field goals in the opening 20 minutes.

“Oh my gosh, they didn’t miss,” Lee said.

“It was unreal,” added Conemaugh Valley’s Blake Furman, who had a double-double for the North with 15 points and 11 boards. “(Berlin Brothervalley’s Jake) Snyder, I hit his hand a few times when he was shooting but it didn’t mess him up at all. The second half, they cooled down a bit and we heated up.”

The South’s Snyder had 17 points, with five 3-pointers, and hauled in six rebounds.  The Mountaineers sharpshooter had three 3-pointers and eight points in the first quarter, as the South led 32-24.

Click here to see more photos of the game

“Our team is full of 3-point shooters, so coach told us to let it fly, and that’s what we were doing,” said Snyder, a leader on Berlin Brothersvalley’s 5-A championship squad. “They were going in. We built up a lead in the first half, but the third quarter they came back.”

The South led by as many as 12 points, 57-45, after Windber’s Matt Barkley scored late in the second quarter. Barkley finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.

But the North closed the opening half with a splash.

Richland’s Jacob Lushko had only three points in the game, but the Rams guard made one of the most memorable shots in Showcase history to sway the momentum.

Lushko got the ball near the South basket as the final seconds wound down in the half. He let a shot fly from just in front of his team’s bench – at least 60 feet from the basket on the opposite end of the court.

The ball went through the hoop as the buzzer sounded, pulling the North within seven points.

“As soon as he let it go, I was like, ‘That’s going in,’ ” South coach Jude Leonardis of Windber said. “The fans enjoyed it.”

So did the North players.

“Lushko’s shot at halftime fired us up in the locker room,” Furman said.

Lushko wasn’t certain he had the range.

“The game wasn’t really going my way, but the Lord allowed me to get that shot,” Lushko said. “I wasn’t expecting it to go in. It got everybody hyped up.”

Another Rams player had a big third quarter. Richland’s Matt Shaffer had eight of his 14 points in the frame, with a stretch of his shots tying the game at 60-all, putting the North up 64-63 and 66-63.

“Matt Shaffer, (Penn Cambria’s) Chad Tsikalas and (Ferndale’s) Isaiah Sajatovich were the three sparks that got us going (in the third quarter),” said North coach Jerry Murphy of Bishop McCort.

Tsikalas had four of his 11 points and four of his seven rebounds in the third quarter. He also had one of his three blocked shots in the frame. Sajatovich was a defensive sparkplug with two points, three rebounds and four steals.

The North led 70-67 after three quarters, but the South wouldn’t go away.

Shanksville-Stonycreek’s Ryan Platt made two big 3-pointers in the final minutes, the first to pull the South within 83-80 at 2:03 and the second tying the game at 83-all with 1:33 to play.

Platt had 11 points and three 3-pointers.

“Our team is made up of all guards, and that helped (on the 3-point shots),” Platt said. “It’s hard coming together with different players from different teams, but I’d say we’re all the same (type of) player, and we worked well together.”

Kyle Flick, one of four players from Richland’s 6-AA championship team on the North, made a basket and two free throws to provide a four-point cushion. The South’s Barkley ended the game with a dunk.

“They can shoot,” the North’s Murphy said of the South’s near comeback. “And, from deep. They’re warming up when they’re coming off the bus.

“We said we just needed to guard the ball, and I think we did that better in the second half,” Murphy added.

Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at