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Blazers find answers to stump Indian

December 19, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

CLEAR SPRING - In a 54-point season-opening loss last week, defense was not in the dictionary of Clear Spring's basketball team. For that matter, there wasn't much of anything else, either.

However, the Blazers showed enough improvement inside of one week to produce their first win of the season - a 77-60 victory over Berkeley Springs on Monday night - and the first for new coach Mark Shives.

"It's nice to coach here and get (the win) here," said Shives. "Our goal coming into the game was to play defense ... we certainly didn't play any against Brunswick."

Clear Spring's defensive guard play and attitude on the boards were the difference in squelching Berkeley Springs' desire to run in transition.

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"They controlled the boards and got a lot of easy second shots around the basket," said Indians coach Chad Brinegar. "We always want to get out in transition but tonight it was (Clear Spring) that did. They played better than us."

The Blazers had a commanding 53-33 margin on the boards, 22 coming on the offensive end. Brett Turner had 13 rebounds to go along with his 16 points and Tyler Shipler had seven boards to compliment his game-high 18 points. Even 6-foot-4 junior Josh Constable provided valuable rest time for Turner and Shipler, pulling down six rebounds along with four points as the Blazers dominated fourth quarter.

After each team had squandered five-point leads in the third period, Clear Spring took a 46-44 lead with 2:01 left when Turner rebounded a miss by Kyle Crist to top off a 9-2 run that included four points by Shipler. The Blazers led 53-49 after three quarters before the fun started at the foul line.

Constable quickly knocked down his two goals in the first 47 seconds of the fourth period around two missed free throws on a technical by Sirbaugh after he fouled out. Turner knocked down four free throws to stake Clear Spring to a 61-52 lead with 5:29 left.

The Blazers (1-1) steadily increased their lead with a constant march to the stripe, hitting 16 of 23 in the final period.

"We let the chips fall where they might," said Shives. "I think we beat them at their transition game and our guards (Christ and Keith Gilchrist) had huge games. They slowed down Berkeley's guards."

Christ added 12 points from his point guard slot and Gilchrist, coming off the bench, added nine points. Even Jeremy McMullen came off the bench with valuable minutes at guard with some sturdy defense and six points.

"The key tonight was 'no quit,'" said Shives. "I think we quit some last week. We have some rough edges, but we've worked on little fundamentals."

The Indians (1-2), coming off a weekend tournament split, launched nearly as many 3-pointers as they did from two-point range. They connected on only 5 of 29 3s and 15 of 30 2-pointers.

"We just never really got in synch," said Brinegar. "We really weren't comfortable. We got too anxious against someone that had bigger post players. We didn't put a body on someone."

Sirbaugh and Joe Wright each had 10 points for Berkeley Springs and Wright also pulled down six boards.

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