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Blazers toe the line in win over Wildcats

January 31, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Charles Dickens wrote "A Tale of Two Cities."

Friday's boys basketball clash between Clear Spring and Williamsport was performed as a tale of two halves.

When the final curtain fell, Clear Spring escaped with a 56-52 MVAL Antietam victory over the Wildcats, gaining the win with an extensive margin at the free throw line.

The Blazers (11-3, 3-3) marched to the stripe 31 times and converted 24 while Williamsport (7-6, 2-4) went 10-for-16.

From the outset of the fourth period, Clear Spring knocked down 12 of 14 from the line - including Cody Beard's 6-for-6 and Alex Tyler's 5-for-6 - to erase a 43-38 Williamsport lead.

As a tightly officiated game in the first half turned into a near train wreck with three technical fouls in the last 16 minutes, the Blazers used a poor second half by Williamsport to their advantage.

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"We simply were not ready to play in the first half," Clear Spring coach Don Harnish said. "I just told the kids at the half how bad we looked and they came out and picked up some intensity. We found five guys that also wanted to play defense."

The Wildcats were unflappable in rolling to a 41-31 halftime lead as Will Roney scored 12 points and the team shot 54 percent while committing only three turnovers.

Williamsport scored just two points on free throws in a lackluster third period which included eight turnovers, seven missed shots and Roney on the bench with four fouls as Clear Spring moved back into contention.

Tyler scored five points one minute into the final period to knot the score at 43-43 and Brandon Yost gave the Blazers a 47-45 lead on a putback with 5:03 left.

A 3-pointer by Roney put the Wildcats back on top before Tyler and Beard each made two free throws for a 51-48 lead - one the Blazers did not relinquish.

Williamsport had several opportunities to at least tie the score in the waning moments, but Roney missed a pair of free throws and the Wildcats were errant on three 3-point attempts.

"We lost some composure in the second half, but it's tough to defend the basketball when the opponent is getting 32 easy looks from the stripe," Williamsport coach Deron Crawford said. "When we could, we did a good job playing defense. This was as good as any first half we've played this year, but it's the second straight game we haven't finished off."

Tyler, whom Harnish said continues to play despite undergoing therapy for tendinitis in his legs, led the Blazers with 24 points and 12 rebounds and Beard finished with 18 points. Brandon Yost, cited by Harnish as one of his defensive standouts in the second half, added eight rebounds.

Roney scored 12 of his team-leading 15 points in the first half and Ben Jordan added 11 points for the Wildcats. Corey Broadwater had eight rebounds.

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