Leechburg boys start section play with win over Propel Andrew Street

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Friday, December 13, 2019 | 9:18 PM


The Leechburg boys basketball team turned in its best section performance since 2006-07 last season, and the Blue Devils continued that performance Friday night at Propel Andrew Street.

Jake Blumer scored 20 points, and Dylan Cook added 18 as the Blue Devils (4-1, 1-0) exploded offensively in the second half to cruise past the Panthers, 73-58, in their first section game of the season.

“We knew we had to get off to a good start this year,” Cook said. “Last year, we got off to a good start, but we slumped in the middle of the year, so we just want to keep it steady all year long and those road wins are hard to get, so it was good to get one tonight.”

Both teams struggled to get going offensively as turnovers and fouls bogged down the first quarter, but the Blue Devils held a 14-10 lead and never trailed from there.

Thanks to a stingy defense, heady and calm point-guard play from Cook and timely scoring from Blumer, the Blue Devils slowly extended their lead throughout the second quarter.

A breakaway layup from Blumer with just under two minutes to play in the half gave Leechburg a seven-point lead, and it was able to extend it to nine before the half.

“I felt like we just wanted to get a sense of the tempo and how it was going to be called,” Leechburg coach Damian Davies said. “Then we were able to do what we do in the second quarter. We were kind of able to turn it up a little there.”

After a rough first half of shooting, the Leechburg offense exploded in the second half. Senior guard Connor McDermott went scoreless through the first 16 minutes but scored nine of his 11 points in the third quarter — all from behind the 3-point line.

“I always mess with him all the time and tell him he’s messing up my assists,” Cook said. “But we know that at some point he’s going to be able to get off. So that’s why we keep trusting him and keep giving him the ball.”

All three of McDermott’s 3-pointers came on wide-open looks, and it showed how well the Blue Devils were working the ball. They would swing the ball from one corner to the other with ease, opening up McDermott for his shots.

It might have taken their offense a half to get going, but throughout the game, the Blue Devils showed a sense of poise. The Panthers (0-4, 0-1) employed an intense 2-2-1 full-court press that gave Leechburg fits. But the veteran group took its time and moved the ball with ease throughout the game.

“With our starting five being mostly veterans, we’ve seen that, so we’re used to it,” Cook said. “Then Braylan Lovelace, a freshman, is phenomenal with it, and he’s super calm with it. So that helped keep our offense running all night.”

Leechburg will look to go 2-0 in the section Tuesday when it hosts Aquinas Academy. Propel Andrew Street will travel to Imani Christian in search of its first win.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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