It was deja vu all over again for two area boys basketball teams last night.
The season is less than a week old, but already Neshannock and Union have met twice. And both times the games were decided in the final minute with Neshannock winning.
The Lancers won Tuesday night's non-section rematch, 53-48, at Union just four days after nipping the Scotties in the first round of the Neshannock Tipoff Tournament.
"We have very similar teams. We're both trying to break in some young players," Neshannock coach Jim Smiley said. "It just came down to who executed better in the last couple of minutes."
It was Mike Conglose who hit a 3-point shot with nine seconds left to win Friday's game. The Lancers needed more last-second heroics this time, too.
With the score tied and 56 seconds left, P.J. Horne's three-point play gave the Lancers a 49-46 lead, and turned things over to their defense.
Ray Hylton blocked Mike McCoy's shot in the lane and chased down the loose ball before being fouled. He went to line and converted both of his free-throw attempts, increasing Neshannock's lead to 51-46 with less than 50 seconds to play.
The Scotties pulled back to within three when Jordon Rooney was fouled and sank two free throws, but Neshannock successfully inbounded the ball and Jimmy Blundo went to the foul line and iced the game with two more free throws.
Hylton finished with 11 points to tie Angelo Fornataro for the team high. Fornataro also grabbed seven rebounds.
The Scotties got a strong effort from Darrell Holmes. The junior guard led all scorer with 26 points, including three 3-point shots.
"Hopefully it's a better road ahead for us," Union coach Mark Stanley said. "They (the Lancers) got two on us, but I like the way our kids have played . These kids are going to be battling each other for the next couple of years."
It was evident from the start that it was going to be a heated rematch.
A skirmish between Neshannock's Tony Kirkwood and Union's Brandon Scott in the first quarter went unnoticed by the officials. It looked as if Scott took a punch to the face, but no fouls were assessed.
"One kid gets punched and one kid gets kicked," Stanley said. "They read the sportsmanship rule and nothing gets done about it. Our point guard (Scott) showed a lot of poise. He did not retaliate. But I don't like seeing those things going on."
When the teams were not physically fighting, they were battling for the lead.
The score was tied at seven after the first quarter and Union led 25-24 at halftime.
Fornataro led a charge early in the third quarter for Neshannock and it seemed as if the Lancers might pull away. He netted three consecutive 3-pointers, giving Neshannock a 39-32 lead.
"We have been waiting for him to do that," Smiley said of Fornataro's hot streak. "We put him in the starting lineup tonight, his first varsity start, and he responded very well."
Union tied the game in the fourth quarter, holding Neshannock scoreless in the first five minutes, before the late heroics.
The Lancers return to action tonight as they travel to West Shamokin. The game was originally scheduled at Neshannock, but had to be moved because of scheduling conflict.
Union (0-3) also plays tonight as it welcomes Riverside to the Mike Covelli Field House. Tipoff for both games is 7:30.