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Clear Spring cool in close victory

February 06, 2003|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

CLEAR SPRING - Is it March already?

Although the calendar does indeed say February, Wednesday night's game between Hancock and Clear Spring's boys basketball teams had all the earmarks of a playoff game.

The intensity was there.

The possession-by-possession drama was there.

In the end, it was the coolness of Clear Spring's Zeb Jacobs at the free throw line and a suffocating half court man defense that spelled the difference in the Blazers' 57-52 win over the Panthers.

Jacobs went to the line four times in the last 22 seconds, lofting three into the hole as the Blazers were able to preserve a late 53-49 lead and keep their rival at arm's length to sweep the season series from the Panthers.

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"We always want to shoot better from the foul line," Clear Spring coach Don Harnish said. "But in a big game and under pressure, our kids did what they had to to come out on top."

"We were able to overcome their size inside, but we couldn't overcome some missed opportunities," Hancock coach Jeff Spielman said.

From the start, the smaller Panthers left no doubt they would run the Blazers in an up tempo style of play aimed at forcing the leg weary big men of Clear Spring into foul trouble. And although Clear Spring did play into foul trouble, the Blazers built an early lead severely outrebounding Hancock by a 2-to-1 margin.

For most of the first half, Clear Spring's front court of Will Worthington, Alex Tyler and Luke Laws limited the Panthers to a one shot and done offense.

But the feisty Panthers, down 24-13 with four minutes left before the half, played back into the game working the ball in a classic high-low offense to end the quarter on an 11-2 run.

Down just 26-24, Spielman felt Hancock was in a good spot.

"We overcame a lot of problems inside," Spielman said. "Jeff (Willison) and Jordan (Sterner) were more than holding their own inside, and I thought we were shooting the ball well."

Sterner finished the game with 12 rebounds for the Panthers.

But after a productive start to the second half, where Hancock actually took the lead 28-26 on a Willison layup, a sudden, if not dramatic, change was about to occur.

Hancock stretched the lead out to 39-31 on a Jeremy Newton 10-footer with 1:08 left in the third quarter.

Amazingly, the Panthers would not score again until just 1:38 remained in the game.

During that time, Clear Spring went on a 21-0 tear to go up, 52-39. It was enough to help the Blazers hang on.

"I never thought it would happen like that," Spielman said. "When Newton got his fourth foul late in the third quarter, we had to sit him. We just don't do the same things with him not in there."

But Clear Spring took advantage rolling the ball in to Tyler and Laws.

"I thought after we got into foul trouble, we played flat," Harnish said. "But I'm not taking anything away from (Hancock). They played hard and with intensity all the way."

"We fought them," Spielman said. "We played hard, but our offense was just too inconsistent."

Newton had a game-high 25 points for Hancock.




Clear Spring 57, Hancock 52


HANCOCK (52)

Martinez 7, Sterner 2, Newton 25, R. Hendershot 1, Spielman

6, Poffenberger 5, Willison 9. TOTALS 15 15-24 52.

CLEAR SPRING (57)

Jacobs 12, Beard 7, Turner 6, Snyder 3, Yost 3, Laws

11, Tyler 10, Worthington 5. TOTALS 20 14-23 57.

Hancock 8 16 15 1352

Clear Spring 14 12 9 2257

Three point goals Hancock 7 (Newton 4, Spielman 2, Martinez.

Clear Spring 3 (Jacobs 2, Snyder). Fouled out H: Poffenberger(.

JV Hancock 55-41 (H: Andy Morris 13 points).

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