READING>> Berks Catholic sharpshooter Casey Jack had a miserable first quarter Thursday night, as the Saints hosted Berks League brethren Schuylkill Valley in a District 3 4A quarterfinal.
Jack went 0-for-6 from the floor in the opening eight minutes, which saw his Saints lead the visiting Panthers by seven points when it was done.
The sophomore BC swingman got some on-the-fly shooting advice from the bench before the start of the second quarter, from a very wise source — veteran head coach Snip Esterly.
“He said to get more loft (on my shot),” Jack said. “He tells me that at practice every day.”
Jack made the correction with his arc — then scoring every one of BC’s 15 second quarter points in a sizzling shooting display to allow the Saints separation from the pesky Panthers and ride it out comfortably for a 53-39 victory.
BC will play Middletown — 73-63 winners over Eastern York Thursday — in the semifinals on Monday. The Panthers will have to fight their way out of the consolation bracket. The top five teams qualify for states in the 4A class.
Jack had two points — both from the free throw line — in the first quarter. He had 17 at half and finished as the game’s leading scorer, with 22.
“What Casey has a tendency to do is to ‘shoot out’,” Esterly said. “I’m trying to get him to ‘shoot up’. Let the ball get up and then come down. He corrected the situation. And it’s confidence, too. Once he hit that first one, he started hitting ’em.”
Jack nailed his first field goal, a 3-pointer, early in the second period to give BC an 18-11 lead. When he was done six-plus minutes later, his was the only name in BC side of score book with points beside it for the entire quarter.
“He had it going and you go to the hot guy,” Esterly said with a laugh, “until they take that away.”
Schuylkill Valley presented some perimeter challenges. Cody Mish was SV’s most consistent player Thursday night. Mish was the Panther most likely to create his own shot by not relying on separation or floor tactics. He finished with 14 points, but also found foul trouble, eventually departing with 1:16 to play when he picked up his fifth. Mish was also the only SV player in double-digits.
Tyler and Ryan Worrell kept BC’s defense honest with a smattering of long-range threes. Each had two 3-pointers — Tyler’s came in the first half, Ryan’s in the second.
“I was worried about this game,” Esterly said. “Schuylkill Valley’s got some weapons. And they’re fearless when they shoot. They hit a couple of bombs, some tough shots with people on them, from NBA range. They wouldn’t go away.
But the margin Jack created with his hot hand during the second quarter proved too much to dent. A four-point final stanza didn’t help.
BC had something the Panthers didn’t Thursday, and that was an interior defensive presence. The Saints had theirs in lanky 6-4 junior forward Keba Mitchell. Mitchell’s reach forced a number of turnovers in the paint and he blocked a pair of shots, while helping to consistently clear the ball out of the defensive zone.
“That’s what we wanted to do,’ Esterly said. “We wanted to get up in on people. Don’t forget, we’ve got Keba in there. Make them play into his strengths.” Mitchell had eight points.
The Saints also got a big contribution form sophomore Bryce Calloway. Calloway led BC with nine points in the first quarter in Jack’s early absence and finished with 13, despite missing the last two days of practice due to illness.
The hosts were remarkably consistent in terms of scoring points, draining exactly 15 in each of the first three quarters. Despite that, there are things Esterly would like to see from his club moving forward, with a tough Middletown club looming.
“I thought we were not up to our normal level of defense, but you’ve got to give Schuylkill Valley credit there,” the head man said. “They hit some bombs. Offensively, we’ve got to get more people involved.”
District 3 4A quarterfinal
at Berks Catholic HS
Berks Catholic 53, Schuylkill Valley 39
SV – 8 12 15 4 — 39
BC – 15 15 15 8 — 53
T Worrell 3 0-0 8, Kauffman 2 0-0 4, R Worrell 2 0-0 6, Cody Mish 5 2-4 14, Horne 1 0-0 3, Spatz 0 2-2 2, Johnson 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 4-6 39.
3-point field goals: 7 (T Worrell 2, R Worrell 2, Mish 2, Horne)
Wilson 2 0-1 4, Smith 0 0-0 0, Garcia 3 0-0 6, Bryce Calloway 5 2-2 13, Casey Jack 6 6-8 22, Mitchell 3 2-5 8, Dabney 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 10-16 53.
3-point feild goals: 5 (Jack 4, Calloway)