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Blazers shine without star

February 14, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Clear Spring discovered all is not lost without junior star Alex Tyler.

Minutes before tipoff, Blazers coach Don Harnish got the word from his ace that he could not answer the bell. But there were others that did, specifically senior Phil Saloom, as No. 10 Clear Spring (14-4, 6-4) downed Boonsboro 60-47 in MVAL Antietam action Friday.

The 6-foot-6 Tyler, who averages 22 points per game, has tendinitis in both knees. On the heels of a game Thursday night, both tightened up during pregame drills.

"Alex wanted to play and he was in the lineup, but he came to me during warmups and said his knees were tightening up," Harnish said. "We've played without him in the lineup before, when he's had foul trouble, so we had an idea of what we needed to do."

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Stepping up to the plate was 5-11 senior Saloom, who scored both inside and outside for a career-high 19 points.

When point guard Cody Beard got into foul trouble, Saloom was called on to handle the offense and he delivered at both ends of the floor.

Saloom scored 13 of his points in the second half, including 11 in the third period when the Blazers salted away the contest. He hit four baskets, including a 3, and a pair of free throws as Clear Spring extended a 33-26 halftime margin to 52-37 after three periods.

"Someone had to step up big time with Alex out," Saloom said. "This gives us confidence that we can play without him in the game."

However, Saloom will be more than happy if Beard stays out of foul trouble and does not have to relinquish his duties at the point.

"I'm used to dribbling the ball, but that's not something I want to do all the time," Saloom said. "Cody's got a lot of pressure on him and I like to play big inside."

Saloom was the only Blazer in double figures, but the six other Blazers that scored each had between five and nine points. Brandon Yost tied Saloom for rebounding honors with six.

"I felt we had other players that could step up," Harnish said. "Phil carried us tonight. He did a great job of handling the ball."

Boonsboro (4-15, 2-9) held an 11-6 lead midway through the first period before Clear Spring closed out the frame on a 12-0 run, sparked by a trapping 1-3-1 defense that wreaked havoc on the Warriors.

Boonsboro's Brad Wetzel scored 18 of his 21 points in the first two periods, but his support came in short supply.

Clear Spring forced 27 turnovers which led directly to 23 points, most in the first three periods.

"The turnovers were the key for us," Boonsboro coach Sam Connelly said. "This was disappointing tonight, not just because they were without Tyler, but they asserted their will on us."

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