In a one-point loss, a lack of firepower from beyond the arc for a Hood men’s basketball team that usually flourishes in that area of the game certainly stood out like a sore thumb.
But for Mason Wang, the Blazers’ shooting woes only told a small part of the story when examining how they couldn’t get over the hump in a 67-66 loss to Lycoming Saturday at BB&T Arena.
“We started really slow the first half — shooting it and everything,” Hood’s junior point guard said. “We were sleeping out there, pretty much.”
Trailing by 12 with 5 minutes, 34 seconds remaining, a Hood team that made a more concerted effort to attack the rim in the second half twice got within a point in the final seconds.
Wang stole a long inbounds pass from Lycoming’s Ryan Hollis in the frontcourt, giving the Blazers a shot to steal a victory with seven-tenths of a second remaining. When Wang tried to receive a three-quarters-court heave from brother Evan Wang after a timeout, the Warriors’ Mo Terry deflected the pass to preserve Lycoming’s victory.
The Blazers could have kicked themselves for lacking that one display of offensive execution in the second half that could have turned a loss into a victory. Hood made just 3 of 25 shots from behind the arc, so maybe it could have come down to making just one of those 3s that rattled around and out.
Instead, the Blazers focused more on their bad start. With five minutes remaining in the first half, a Hood (9-5 overall, 2-3 MAC Commonwealth) team that averages just under 79 points per game had scored just 10, going 12 minutes without a basket.
On the boards, the Warriors outrebounded the Blazers 46-35.
“Coming out, [it] was low energy all together — offensive and defensive and just not really energized at all,” said Mason Wang, who finished with 29 points.
It’s an issue Hood coach Chad Dickman said has plagued his team often during the past two weeks. Since starting the season 8-0, the Blazers have dropped five of their past six.
“I feel like with our guys, our mindset is, ‘When we really have to turn it on, we’re going to turn it on,’ instead of turning it on from the get-go,” Dickman said. “As a coaching staff, we’ve got to figure out how to connect with these guys better so they understand what needs to be done on every single possession.”
And, yet, those five losses have come by a total of 17 points, so Dickman still sees a team that has the potential to make a deep postseason run.
And while the Blazers make just over 10 3-pointers per game, they don’t see bad shooting nights as a barrier for achievement. Against Lycoming, Mason Wang continuously drove the lane, going 12-for-12 from the free-throw line. During a three-minute stretch in the second half, he reeled off 12 straight points for Hood, scoring three times off penetration.
Tyler Evans added 12 points for the Blazers while Michael Riley grabbed 11 rebounds.
“We don’t let really let missing shots affect the way we play,” said Mason Wang, who was honored before the game for scoring his 1,000th career point in the Blazers’ victory over Lebanon Valley on Wednesday. “We’ll keep shooting them if we get open looks, but me and my brother, we really emphasize driving hard and then seeing what opens up from that, whether it’s drive-and-kick, get all the way down to the block and find the open man.”
Lycoming (10-5, 3-3) offset Mason Wang’s scoring barrage by shooting well from distance, making seven 3-pointers over a five-minute stretch. Hollis, who finished with a team-high 17 points, and Luke Finkbeiner each hit three 3s during the run as Lycoming went 12-for-37 from beyond the arc. Warriors leading scorer Darius Dangerfield, who spent most of the game saddled with foul trouble, hit a 3 from the left corner that gave the Warriors a 63-51 lead with 5:34 left.
Hood’s strong finish followed, but the Blazers took more stock in strong starts.
“That’s what we really have to work on — coming out each game in the first half with a lot of energy and intensity,” Wang said. “From there, we’ll take off.”
Lycoming 57, Hood women 41
The Blazers went 8-of-15 from beyond the arc but shot just 31 percent (16-of-52) overall.
Lauren Keeney (Middletown) led Hood with 12 points. She and Mia Savoy each hit three 3-pointers.
Keeney and Celestria Hill had seven rebounds apiece, and Marlise Newson had three steals.