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Blazers use St. James to pass test

February 15, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

CLEAR SPRING -- Clear Spring made St. James pay dearly for a plethora of first-quarter turnovers and used it as a springboard to post a 69-61 Saturday matinee victory.

The No. 6 Blazers, coming off a loss to Brunswick on Friday that eliminated them from the MVAL Antietam race, refocused on gaining a win that will be important in the tournament seeding process next week.

"It was a war, up and down on Friday, and it was a real test of character to see how the players would come back," said Clear Spring coach Mark Shives.

Saturday really was no different in terms of a war between the lines and physicality.

The teams were told at halftime to temper the chippiness. Officials helped by whistling 19 fouls in the third period.

The Blazers took advantage of the No. 7 Saints' early woes, bolting to a 10-4 lead and building to a 34-24 halftime advantage, while using with solid minutes off the bench and six points each from Joel Rowe and Cody Lerch.

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"They gave us great minutes in the first half," said Shives. "They both can shoot the ball."

Shives had a chat with Cody Englehart at halftime and he responded with an 11-point third period. Englehart scored a pair of baskets off nifty passes from Jordan Lavender to help the Blazers steam out to a 44-27 margin with just under five minutes left in the third quarter.

"(Cody) answered the bell in the third quarter becoming aggressive," said Shives.

But the Saints - specifically Mike Russ - were not about to roll over and play dead despite three early turnovers in the final quarter. Instead, they began turning Clear Spring mistakes into points.

St. James went on an 11-0 run, including nine points from Russ, to suddenly trail 62-59 with 2:10 remaining.

However, Englehart scored twice on assists from Lavender and hit a free throw in the final minutes to dodge the Saints' comeback.

"We had a one-pass offense starting the game," said St. James coach Mike Brooks. "Turnovers all over, forced shots and then in the second half we got into running our offense. The kids had a maximum effort."

The biggest effort of all came from Russ, who engineered a county-high 36-point outing. It was the followup to Friday's 31-point night against Smithsburg.

He was 12 of 18 from the floor and 12 of 14 from the line. His scoring support came in the form of 15 points from Spencer Draper.

Englehart ended with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Kyle Crist led the Blazers with 19 points, 17 coming in the first three quarters.

"We've got a group of seniors that know they have a job to so and I thought today was a workmanlike performance," said Shives.

Clear Spring 69, St. James 61
ST. JAMES (13-11)

Draper 15, Russ 36, Dunbar 4, McWilliams 2, Smith 4. Totals 21 19-27 61.
CLEAR SPRING (13-6)
Crist 19, Thurber 8, Englehart 16, Lavender 7, glazer 7, Lerch 6, Rowe 6. Totals 23 17-24 69.
St. James 12 12 22 15 - 61
Clear Spring 18 16 21 14 - 69

3-point goals - Clear Spring 5 (Lerch 2, Crist 2, Glaser). fouled out - SJ: Louderback, Dunbar. JV - St. James 48-31 (SJ: Ji Hoon He 16; CS: Nick Hill 12)

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