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Panthers charitable to Blazers

December 16, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER/Staff Correspondent

CLEAR SPRING - The Clear Spring girls basketball team missed more than half of its free throws Friday night against Hancock.

But the Blazers got to the charity stripe enough times that it didn't seem to matter.

Clear Spring was fouled 34 times and took 53 foul shots - 26 in the fourth quarter - making more than enough to pull away to a 63-28 victory, its first of the season.

The Blazers missed 28 free throws, but noticed early in the game that the Panthers couldn't help but send Clear Spring to the line.

"We knew Hancock was getting in foul trouble," said Blazers coach Erin Wadel. "They were fouling pretty easy, so we kept going inside to draw them."

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Carley Snyder made 11 of 22 free throws and had a game-high 19 points for the Blazers.

"It seemed like every time we threw it (inside), I was getting fouled and we just kept doing it," Snyder said. "I've been working on my free throws and I thought I did decent tonight."

Clear Spring (1-2) reached the bonus in the first quarter and went 7-for-9 from the foul line as it jumped out to a 15-2 lead. Hancock picked up its 10th foul with over five minutes left in the first half, sending Clear Spring to the line 12 more times - the Blazers made five.

"We try to teach the kids to move their feet, but it's tough" said Hancock coach Rocky Wills. "We have an inexperienced, undersized team that's still trying to learn. It's tough to get them to focus for a 32-minute basketball game."

In addition to early foul trouble, Hancock struggled to find an answer for Clear Spring's pressure defense. The Panthers (0-3) often failed to move the ball past midcourt and didn't inbound the ball cleanly on several other occasions. It resulted in 23 first-half turnovers and only two baskets as Clear Spring pulled away to a 32-4 halftime lead.

Sarah Dice came off the bench to score 13 points and make three steals in the first half. The Blazers sophomore finished with 15 points.

"Sarah's been out for three days and has been easing her way back in," Wadel said. "She was able to fill in a little bit for us and she played well."

Clear Spring backed off its press after halftime and Hancock finally showed signs of offense in the third quarter. The Panthers got back-to-back baskets for the first time in the game on a layup by Meghan Chiaruttini and a banked 3-pointer by Stacie Powers. The Hancock deficit got as large as 40-11 before the Panthers went on a 13-2 run to end the quarter - capped by a Shawnda Wills 3 before the buzzer - to trim the gap to 42-24.

"The girls talked about it and they came out with fire," Rocky Will said. "We just couldn't stay consistent and keep it going."

Clear Spring went back to its smothering defense in the fourth quarter and forced 11 more turnovers. And for almost every turnover, the Blazers either had an open layup or were sent to the free throw line to open the lead up to more than 30 points.

"Our defense played well, but in the third quarter we did back off it a little bit. The good thing was we were able to turn it back up," Wadel said.

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