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Boys Basketball: Blazers tighten screws on defense to stifle Panthers

February 17, 2012|By WILL ROBINSON | Staff Correspondent

CLEAR SPRING — Like the old adage goes, defense creates offense.

The Clear Spring boys basketball team was all over Hancock the defensive end, taking advantage of Panthers’ mistakes on Friday for an 87-40 Senior Night victory. Now the Blazers just hope it will all hold over for the upcoming MVAL 1A West tournament.

Clear Spring (12-10) wasted no time getting after Hancock (7-15), forcing bad shots with its suffocating half-court pressure. It allowed the Blazers to start the game on a 16-point run, paced by three 3-pointers by Ryan Aaron.

Hancock didn’t light the scoreboard until the 2:12 mark of the first period with two free throws by Donnie O’Brien, which were quickly answered by a 3-pointer by Clear Spring’s Nick Hill to give the Blazers a 19-2 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

“We came out ready to play tonight on Senior Night,” said Clear Spring coach Ryan Grabill. “Our seniors set the tempo. They played with a ton of emotion tonight.”

One of those seniors is the 6-foot-3 Hill, who scored a game-high 19 points along with five rebounds and four assists. Hill dropped eight points in Clear Spring’s 27-point second quarter, while fellow senior Ben Cornwell was adding six.

The Blazers held a comfortable 46-13 advantage at the end of the first half from which Hancock never recovered.

Tyler Anderson scored six of the Panthers’ 11 second-quarter points, but Hancock still found no rhythm on offense (going 2-of-21 from the field in the first half).

“I told the guys that if we guarded, we would get easy transition baskets,” Grabill said. “It all started on defense.”

 The reserves for both teams played extended minutes in the second half, allowing every Clear Spring player to find the basket. Lendon Paul was the last senior to score in the fourth quarter, prompting a chant of “All the Seniors” from Clear Spring’s “6th Man” student section.

Senior Mikey Sensenbaugh scored 16 points for the Blazers while Aaron added 11 points and seven rebounds.

With Clear Spring playing a complete game at both ends of the floor (forcing 18 Hancock turnovers and outrebounding the Panthers 45-20), Grabill has an optimistic outlook for the playoffs, knowing what his team can do when they guard the ball.

“To advance in the playoffs, we’re going to have to guard and take care of the ball,” said Grabill. “It’s just the mindset. You know you have to take care of the ball if you want to succeed.”

JV: Hancock, 51-40 (H: Jordan Tosten 27; CS: Collin Schultz 12).

Clear Spring 87, Hancock 40
HANCOCK (7-15)
O’Brien 4, Wiles 3, Foreman 7, McKinley 7, Manning 1, Mitchell 6, Anderson 10, Wagner 2. Totals 9 18-29 40.
CLEAR SPRING (12-10)
Paul 2, S. Elwood 5, Hill 19, C.J. Elwood 5, Weaver 4, Aaron 11, Cornwell 8, Walling 2, Brant 3, Miller 6, Mellott 2, Sensenbaugh 16, Moser 4. Totals 30 21-32 87.
Hancock    2    11    9    18    —    40
Clear Spring    19    27    21    19    —    87
3-point goals — Hancock 4 (Mitchell 2, McKinley, Anderson); Clear Spring 6 (Aaron 3, Hill 2, C.J. Elwood).

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