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Blazers outrun 'Roaders

March 03, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

BRUNSWICK, Md. - Clear Spring, 13-0 and 12-0. Brunswick, 14-2 and 9-0. Those were definitive runs made by each team during the course of their Maryland Class 1A West boys basketball quarterfinal game Tuesday.

The decisive run was Clear Spring's 12-point blitz in the final 2:45 that pushed the Blazers to a 62-54 win over the Railroaders in front of a near-capacity crowd that was as up-and-down as the runs were going back and forth.

"This is a hard place to play at and win," said Clear Spring senior Brad Turner after his 11-point, 10-rebound performance. "We had too many turnovers early and the fans get in your hair."

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In the same gym, Brunswick had scorched the Blazers for 14 3-pointers on Jan. 8 on the way to an 80-66 victory.

"Our first loss this year was here and we knew they would shoot 3s," said Clear Spring coach Don Harnish. "It just feels great to pull this one out and win."

A physically demanding battle took its toll heavily on Brunswick in the latter stages of the final period as the Railroaders lost Jason Anderson, Craig Wachter and Chad Baker to fouls inside the final three minutes.

Brunswick's Cody Hickerson had nailed one of his five 3-pointers to give the hosts a 54-52 lead with 2:45 to play before foul problems set in.

Clear Spring (18-5) relentlessly took advantage of the opportunity as Alex Tyler tied the game with two free throws and Phil Saloom put Clear Spring ahead 56-54 with 1:42 to go on a runner following a Brunswick turnover.

Saloom, Turner and Zeb Jacobs took turns in the final 90 seconds with converted free throws while Brunswick couldn't find an answer down the stretch.

The theatrics were set up when Brunswick opened the second half with a 9-0 run to take a 35-28 lead, one it held until the middle of the fourth period as Hickerson hit three 3-pointers.

Clear Spring had its other run at the outset of the second period that turned an 11-9 deficit into a 22-11 lead, but Brunswick, in the span of 2 1/2 minutes, wiped that out with its first run for a 25-22 lead.

All the time, however, Brunswick was working into foul trouble as Anderson and Baker constantly hounded Tyler inside and Wachter tried to contain Cody Beard on the outside. Tyler managed 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds, but just as important was his ability to find Turner loose for baskets at key intervals with his passes.

The Blazers were able to avoid the early pitfalls of 14 of their 22 turnovers in the first half.

"We were off for a week ... that might have been part of the slow start," Harnish said. "At times we looked terrible and we sure did in the beginning but we played with heart."

Beard had 17 points to lead the Blazers, who shot 40 percent and hit 18 of 25 from the foul line while the Railroaders were managing just 30 percent from the floor, including 6 of 17 from 3-point range.

Hickerson took game-scoring honors with 20 points and Billy Bernard added 11. Anderson was held to 10 points and Wachter, hitting only 1 of 12 from the floor, had three.

"We are an aggressive team, but tonight no one other than Hickerson shot the ball well," Brunswick coach Jim Sklencar said. "The foul problems didn't help us, but we aren't deep enough when we have that problem.

"It was one of those nights for Wachter and we missed some offensive rebound opportunities, but I was impressed with Clear Spring, especially how they passed the ball."

Thursday, the Blazers will battle Westmar, an 86-63 winner over Northern Monday. It is expected Clear Spring will host the contest.

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