Rockets fizzle in final

December 31, 1998

James Buchanan Holiday TournamentBy MIKE SIRBAUGH / Staff Correspondent

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The Salisbury Township Falcons came in from the Lehigh Valley near Allentown, Pa., on Tuesday looking for some competition against teams they hadn't yet seen.

After their visit to Mercersburg, they're liable to book reservations for next year's James Buchanan Holiday Tournament before leaving.

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The Falcons (8-2) methodically disassembled the host Rockets using a quick, aggressive defense and an attacking, penetrating offense to record the 63-45 victory in the championship game.

"For juniors, they've really come a long way," said Salisbury coach Frank Yelinko of a squad that has only one senior. "They're growing all the time and they're learning and we're really happy with that."


The Falcons fell behind briefly in the first quarter 9-6, behind four points from James Buchanan's Eric Stoner and a 3-pointer by Matt Piper, before reeling off a 9-2 run to close out the period with a 15-11 lead.

Salisbury consistently used the formula of outscoring James Buchanan (2-8) in each quarter and having one scoring spurt per period to gradually distance itself from the Rockets.

In each of the remaining quarters, the Falcons rode the wings of an 8-2 run in the middle of the period to gain an offensive edge. They also were outstanding from the free throw line, hitting 13 of 15, including 10-for-10 in the fourth quarter.

"They're not afraid," said Yelinko. "They shoot the ball well and they're very aggressive. As long as they stay within themselves, they're fine."

Defensively, Salisbury picked up a tip from the previous night's game and used it to fluster the Rockets' offense, keeping them from ever getting into a groove.

"We saw last night," Yelinko said, "if they don't get the ball in the corner where they like to start their offense, then they're in trouble. We try to jump the ball. We try to block out the passing lanes and maybe get some steals. We don't go for the ball, we go for the pass."

Jeff Clifford scored a game-high 20 points for the Falcons and was supported by Geoff Hoffman's 14 and Alan Aungst's 12. James Buchanan was led by Andy Ryder with 16 points and Stoner with 13.

Stoner, Clifford and Salisbury's Matt Gerrity were named to the tournament all-star team. Tyler Rindock of Salisbury was named Most Valuable Player.

In the consolation game, the Smithsburg Leopards (4-5) were led by Ryan Showman's 15 points as they defeated the Catoctin Cougars, 56-52.

Catoctin was led by Chad Wiley with a game-high 18 points and Jeremy Parks, who hit three 3-pointers and a foul shot for 10.

Showman and Catoctin's Matt Merico were named to the tournament all-star team.

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