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Blazers make a point in win over Leopards

February 08, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - The Clear Spring basketball team walked out of its own gymnasium Saturday fully aware it was fortunate to do so with a victory.

The Blazers avoided the pitfalls of a one-point second period to record a 48-35 MVAL Antietam Conference victory over Smithsburg, a team they had beaten by 20 points last month.

Saturday's 13-point decision was in no way an indication that the Blazers dominated the Leopards once again, although it appeared Clear Spring had the opportunity to do so in the opening moments of the contest.

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"I'm not pleased. We weren't ready to play and Smithsburg was," said Clear Spring coach Don Harnish. "Any time you score one point in a quarter you definitely feel fortunate to win."

Smithsburg's Nathan Steelman scored immediately from the opening tip before the Blazers rattled off 15 unanswered points, including eight from Alex Tyler, and led 15-6 after one period.

The next eight minutes were paralyzing for Clear Spring (12-3, 4-3) as the Blazers missed seven shots and committed nine turnovers.

Tyler's free throw, the back end of a two-shot foul with 22 seconds left in the first half, was the only point the Blazers managed in the second quarter.

Smithsburg (3-12, 1-6) took advantage, charging back and taking a 16-15 lead on consecutive 3-pointers by Steelman and Josh Carson.

Clear Spring opened the third period with six straight points including a pair of buckets from Tyler before Smithsburg came right back to knot the score, 22-22, on back-to-back treys from Steelman and Josh Bowers, the second with 3:22 left.

Clear Spring broke that deadlock with two free throws by Cody Beard and finished the period on top, 28-22.

Smithsburg never led again but reached back to get within one point, 34-33, with 3:35 remaining when Steelman hit both ends of a one-and-one, which would be the Leopards' last points until 31 seconds remained.

In the interim, the Blazers scored eight of their final 14 points at the charity stripe, where they held a big margin making 15 of 23 compared to Smithsburg's 4 of 6.

Brandon Yost did plenty of the damage in the final period for Clear Spring scoring 10 of his 14 points, eight coming in the final part of the quarter.

"We've seen some zone defenses, but we just made bad decisions and had too many turnovers," Harnish said. "The shots we took in the second quarter weren't bad, we just couldn't hit them."

Smithsburg's 2-3 zone defense swarmed as much as it could on Tyler, who had 27 points in the first meeting. The defense helped in the middle periods, but Tyler still ended with a game-high 19 points.

"We wanted to limit his (Tyler) touches and we did a good job in the middle quarters," said Smithsburg coach Eric Gerber. "We want our zone to be active with their hands because we're not the type of team that is going to score much."

The Leopards also missed Drew Crawford for a second straight game and are likely to miss him more after a knee injury was diagnosed with an ACL sprain.

"We have to work through missing Crawford because he is a pure shooter," Gerber said.

Steelman and Bowers almost shot the Leopards to victory with their efforts of 14 points apiece, all but seven of Smithsburg's total.

Another factor was domination on the boards by Clear Spring as the Blazers held a 39-19 advantage with Yost, who Harnish said "has been playing well for us," pulling down nine caroms.

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