CLARION 71, UNION 61
Dec. 15, 2004
By Chris Rossetti
RIMERSBURG – Clarion used a streaky offense and good defense to topple Union 71-61 in a non-conference boys’ game Wednesday night at Union.
"It is definitely our best game to this point," Clarion head coach Rob Leone said. "We really hadn’t pulled together four solid quarters. Other than at the end of the game when we couldn’t put a clamp on it, we played solid."
The game was a huge turnaround from Monday night when the Bobcats traveled to DuBois Central Catholic and lost 70-48.
"It seems like a big difference," Leone said of his team’s play. "Monday night a lot of guys didn’t seem like they had confidence. Our bigger guys, due to DCC’s good defense, were not being aggressive. We talked about it and worked it out. Today our big men were like Dr. Jekel and Mr. Hyde. They played superior tonight. They made many strides forward. They played like they are capable to if. It is like they didn’t know their potential. Now they are starting to see it."
The Clarion big men of Theron Miles, Peter Baschnagel and Ryan Hritz combined to score just 18 points while pulling down only nine rebounds. But what they did for the Bobcats on defense was more than enough to make up for the lack of offensive production.
The big fellows kept Union out of the paint most of the night, and when they did venture in blocked shots were sure to happen. Baschnagel had six blocks alone, as Clarion blocked at least a dozen shots on the night. Andrew Banner, a swing big man, added four blocks by himself.
"We hadn’t seen that big of kids before," Union head coach Karen Davis said. "We have to be quicker with our shots."
The long arms also helped Clarion tip and intercept many passes during the night leading to 31 Union turnovers.
"We didn’t handle the ball well," Davis said. "We let their defense bother us."
Clarion, in turn, used its defense to create offensive runs.
The Bobcats had runs of 7-2 and 13-4 in the second quarter and spurts of 9-2, 7-0 and 8-0 in the second half.
"The defense was sparking the offense," Leone said. "We were getting deflections, steals and blocked shots."
One of the few things that didn’t go right for Clarion was its ability to put the Golden Knights away.
The Bobcats led by 15 points, 66-51, with 3:50 to play before Union fought back with a 10-2 run to close to within seven – 68-61 – with 44 seconds to go.
"It was like our heart was controlling our minds," Leone said. "We knew we had to close, but sometimes they get emotional and it is tough for them to start thinking about what they have to do to win."
Union, which didn’t shot very well in the first half connecting on just 4 of 16 shots (25 percent) trailed by just seven points – 35-27 – at halftime thanks to solid free-throw shooting that saw it go 19 of 28 from the line in the half. Clarion committed 17 fouls helping Union reach the charity stripe that many times.
"Union is a good free-throw shooting team," Leone said. We wanted to be aggressive. But sometimes you go for the ball and hit an arm and slap when you shouldn’t. You start losing your mind a little bit when you shouldn’t."
But the free-throw well dried up in the second half, as Union only went to the line six times in the half.
"I’m not surprised we only shot six free throws in the second half," Davis said. "We quit taking the ball to the hole."
Not only didn’t Union get the line in the second half, the Golden Knights also allowed Clarion to use three big runs to put the game out of reach.
The Bobcats used a 9-2 run in the opening minutes of the second half to take a 44-32 lead.
Then, after Union went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead back to three points – 44-41 – Clarion went on a 7-0 run to make it 51-41 with 1:18 left in the quarter.
Finally, following Kyle Hilliard’s buzzer beating three at the end of the third quarter that cut Clarion’s lead to 53-46, the Bobcats used an 8-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter to take a 15-point lead – 61-46.
"I think both teams played good games," Davis said. "Clarion played pretty good and so did we."
Cody Mortimer led all scorers with 20 points for Union including a 10-for-10 performance from the free-throw line. Hilliard added 18 points with all seven of his baskets and 15 of his points coming in the second half. He also had a game-high eight rebounds.
Adam Donaldson paced Clarion with 17 points, a season-high for any Cat, including four three’s. Ryan Hritz added 12 points and Brandon Hilyer nine.
All told 11 of the 12 Clarion players who played scored.
Peter Baschnagel was a force in the paint with six blocked shots while also getting five rebounds and five points.
Andrew Banner contributed four more blocks while also scoring seven points and grabbing one rebound.
CLARION 71, UNION 61
Score by Quarter
Clarion 13 22 18 18 – 71
Union 15 12 19 15 – 61
Clarion – 71
Brandon Hilyer 4 1-2 9, Tyler Burnworth 0 0-0 0, Neil Cyphert 1 0-1 3, Sean Wolf 2 1-1 5, Nate Reitz 1 0-0 2, Eric Moore 3 0-0 6, Andrew Banner 2 2-2 7, Adam Donaldson 5 3-4 17, Elliot Fabri 1 2-2 4, Ryan Hritz 4 4-7 12, Peter Baschnagel 2 1-2 5, Theron Miles 0 1-2 1. Totals 25 15-23 71.
Union – 61
Gary Cooper 0 0-0 0, Devin Davis 0 0-0 0, Cody Mortimer 4 10-10 20, Colton Davis 0 0-2 0 Toby Painter 1 0-0 2, Bill Burns 1 5-6 8, Nate Carmichael 0 0-0 0, Adam Milanovich 3 7-12 13, Kyle Hilliard 7 3-4 18. Totals 16 25-34 61.
Three-pointers – Clarion 6 (Donaldson 4, Cyphert, Banner).