Johnson, Smith help Moon edge Lower Dauphin in overtime of PIAA Class 5A quarterfinals

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Friday, March 15, 2019 | 9:48 PM


ALTOONA — Donovan Johnson got Moon into position. But Jioni Smith brought the Tigers home.

Or, at least, put them in the PIAA Class 5A boys basketball semifinals.

Johnson scored 20 of his game-high 21 points in the opening half. Smith, though, tossed in a crazy, off-balance throw in the final seconds of overtime to lift Moon to a thrilling 51-50 victory over Lower Dauphin of District 3 in a quarterfinal round game Friday night at Altoona Area High School Field House.

Smith, who only scored six points and had missed two free throws late in regulation, didn’t get to appreciate his game winner — he was sprawled out on the floor.

“I was on the ground. I was turned around. Coach (Adam Kaufman) just said to attack the hoop. It just went in,” Smith said with a big smile.

Taru Jones preserved Moon’s triumph with a big blocked shot on the other end. Lower Dauphin’s 6-foot-6 senior forward Will Bowen got position in the paint for a hook shot that would have won it, but the shot was short, and Johnson batted it out onto the perimeter as time expired.

“This is awesome. We fought as a team. It came down to defense. We got the stop. I am so happy with the win,” Johnson said.

Moon improved to 26-2. Connor Ryan scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

The Tigers saw a four-point lead late in regulation slip away, then fell behind by one after Ryan scored the first four points of overtime.

“I apologized to (Lower Dauphin coach Rick Attivo). I thought they played with more poise,” Kaufman said. “At this point in the season, you can’t play that way.”

Moon survived it, though. Luke Hedrick led Lower Dauphin with 21 points, including a bank 3 and a high-arching layup that had the Falcons ahead 50-49.

“They’re winners. That’s what they do. They win,” Attivo said of Moon. “They found a way to win.”

Moon had a chance to end it in regulation, getting the ball back with 1:13 left in the fourth quarter when a pass went off Swist out of bounds. The Tigers ran the clock down, and Ryan drove the lane.

However, Blake Cassel stepped in for the charge with 1.2 seconds left. Swist got a desperation heave for Lower Dauphin from midcourt as time expired, but it was well short.

Johnson was a scoring machine in the first half. He scored 11 in the opening quarter, made five 3-pointers over the first 16 minutes and had 20 points at the intermission, where the Tigers took a 27-22 lead.

Lower Dauphin, though, scored the first field goals of the second half and began to establish their dominance inside. The Falcons went up by as many as five in the third quarter before 3s by TreVonn Carter and Austin Ryan in the last 6.3 seconds of the frame — Ryan’s at the buzzer — staked Moon to a 37-36 lead heading into the final stanza.

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