Mansion champions: Mertiff’s FTs help Okonak to D1 title

Okonak’s Jonny Hasson drives to the basket against Superior Detailing defender Isaac Vescovi on Monday. Photo for the Mirror by Chuck Meyers.

In the CBRC Mansion Park Summer Basketball League Division 1 championship game Monday night, Tyler Mertiff looked as if he spends part of every day shooting free throws.

That’s because he does, especially during the winter scholastic basketball season.

Mertiff is an assistant varsity coach with the Tyrone Area High School boys basketball team, and part of his responsibility in that role includes daily free-throw shooting with the Tyrone players.

“I practice shooting foul shots with the kids every day, and it paid off for me tonight,” said Mertiff, who hit 6-of-6 clutch free throws down the stretch to lead top-seeded Okonak, Ciocca & Lechner P.C. to a 70-63 title victory over second-seeded Superior Detailing & Associates. “I’m happy with that.”

Mertiff also hit a big 3-pointer late in the game on the way to a team-high 16 points for OCL, whose players have been playing together for several years but won their first Mansion Park League championship Monday on the Pleasant Valley Elementary School basketball courts.

“As a group, we’ve won several other local leagues, but this is the first time that we’ve won this league,” Mertiff said. “To win this league with this group is real special.”

OCL held a 55-49 lead before heavy rain and lightning forced suspension of the championship game last Thursday. It was resumed Monday with 7:33 remaining, and OCL held off defending champion Superior Detailing & Associates, which moved to within one point, 60-59 on A.J. Leahey’s putback bucket with just under two minutes to play.

Jonny Hasson, who scored 13 points for OCL, converted a feed underneath the basket from Brandon Lytle to put OCL ahead, 62-59.

Mertiff was fouled moments later, and made both free throws with 1:03 left to give OCL a 64-59 advantage.

After Leahey’s baseline field goal drew Superior Detailing to within 64-61, Mertiff was fouled twice and made four straight free throws, the last two with 13 seconds left, to give OCL a comfortable 68-61 advantage.

Ray Hinton of Superior Detailing and Hasson traded field goals to set the 70-63 final.

Mertiff was pleased that his team maintained its lead after last week’s rain brought about the suspension of the game.

“That was the best that we played all year before the rain,” said Mertiff, who received the league’s Dick Hankinson championship game’s Most Valuable Player award after the game. “I was kind of nervous when we came back, but we have a pretty veteran team, and we stuck with it.”

Both Mertiff and teammate Dave Rizzo, who scored 15 points for OCL, felt that OCL’s ability to sustain a running game was vital.

“We knew these guys (Superior Detailing) would come out running,” Mertiff said. “We knew that if we answered that, we’d be OK.”

Rizzo said that rebounding and the transition game were the keys for OCL.

“We made sure that we boxed out, (tried to get) the ball, and go,” Rizzo said. “We don’t have a very deep roster, but the guys we have can get out and run.”

Superior Detailing was led by Isaac Vescovi’s game-high 18 points. Vescovi received the league’s Stu Nolan Most Valuable Player award for the 2018 season.

“We dug ourselves a hole last week, we didn’t have much energy,” Vescovi said. “If we had played last week like we played tonight, we’d have been in much better shape.”

Nathan Davis scored 17 points last Thursday for Superior Detailing & Associates, but he was unavailable for Monday’s finish to the game, having returned to college.

Last Thursday, Davis scored a free throw to tie the game, 49-49, before OCL reeled off the next six points on a pair of 3-pointers by Hasson and Arin Wade to take the 55-49 advantage before the rains came.

Dark skies appeared again for Monday’s finish, but everything stayed dry and permitted the game to conclude.

“It feels good to win this league as a group,” Rizzo said.

Game notes: All-league selections went to Rizzo, Davis, Vescovi, Jesse Betar of PowerHouse Subs, and Damon Rickens of T-Cals.

SUPERIOR DEATAILING & ASSOCIATES (63): Isaac Vescovi 6 6-8 18, Ian Vescovi 0 4-6 4, Leahey 4 0-0 9, Nathan Davis 7 2-3 17, Hinton 3 0-1 6, B. Vescovi 3 0-0 9, Schloder 0 0-0 0. Totals — 23 12-18 63.

OKONAK, CIOCCA, LECHNER P.C. (70): Mertiff 3 7-8 16, Okonak 3 0-1 7, Rizzo 6 1-2 15, Hasson 6 0-0 13, Lytle 2 1-3 5, Hollis 2 1-2 5, Wade 3 1-2 9. Totals — 25 11-18 70.

Halftime: Okonak, Ciocca & Lechner P.C., 35-31.

3-point field goals: Superior Detailing 5 (Leahey, Nathan Davis, B. Vescovi 3); Okonak, Ciocca & Lechner P.C. 9 (Mertiff 3, Rizzo 2, Wade 2, Okonak, Hasson).

Officials: Skip Dry, Clark Adelman, Randy Burket.