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Boys Basketball: Blazers pick off playoff victory from Mavericks

February 25, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING — Mikey Sensenbaugh spent many a fall Friday laying back on defense, just looking for a pick-6.

You know, that interception that not only scores a touchdown but changes the momentum of a football game.

On a winter Saturday, the intentions were about the same, but Sensenbaugh was happy enough to settle for a pair of pick-2s.

Sensenbaugh made a pair of critical steals on consecutive possessions just 1 1/2 minutes into the game to give Clear Spring two layups that effectively turned the tide and sent the Blazers to a convincing 73-41 victory over Manchester Valley in the Maryland Class 1A West Region East Section quarterfinals.

“We just came out hyped. We didn’t want to go home (from the playoffs),” Sensenbaugh said. “They were throwing a lot of long skip passes that we could pick off. We made a bunch of steals on them.”

But those two particular steals and drives to the hoop set the tone of the entire evening for both Clear Spring (13-10) and Manchester Valley (8-15).

For the Blazers, it was the beginning of a seven-minute, 19-0 run that took them from a one-point lead to a 22-2 advantage with 41 seconds left in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the flurry made the Mavericks tentative — and angry. Manchester Valley had trouble starting its offense and couldn’t buy a basket. Then it compounded problems with six technical fouls.

“Our defense set the tone,” said Clear Spring coach Ryan Grabill. “After those steals, they got more tentative. The defense led to our offense and we kept our composure.”

Sensenbaugh started the flurry as he bolted out of his center defensive position to close and make his thefts up near halfcourt, leading to breakaway drives.

“Mikey had a tough matchup against (Ronald Wilson) and we told him to get out and get into the passing lanes,” Grabill said.

Clear Spring led 22-5 at the end of the first quarter and 39-11 by halftime, sending the Mavericks to their last roundup. Manchester Valley managed just three baskets in the first 16 minutes.

Manchester Valley finished with just 11 buckets in the game, but was helped out by 24 Clear Spring fouls. The Mavericks added 15 more points on 29 free throw tries.

Clear Spring started slowly in the third quarter, but put a stranglehold on the game with an 11-0 run to assume a 53-19 lead with Nick Hill canning four foul shots.

The Blazers were up 66-27 with 4:16 remaining when Grabill pulled the starters. At that point, Manchester Valley had just four baskets in the second half.

Sensenbaugh led Clear Spring with 16 points, while Hill finished with 11. Martin Windisch led Manchester with 14.

With the victory, Clear Spring travels to meet Brunswick in an East Section semifinal on Tuesday.

“We need to defend on every possession and make the other team work,” Grabill said. “This is a good win leading into the game with Brunswick. We should go in there with a lot of confidence after this.”

Clear Spring 73, Manchester Valley 41
MANCHESTER VALLEY (8-15)
Seipp 2, Windisch 14, Griffith 2, Boone 4, Boyle6,  Fernandez 1, Evans 4, Bonner 8. Totals 11 15-29 41.
CLEAR SPRING (13-10)
Paul 3, Elwood 4, Hill 11, Weaver 4, Aaron 6, Cornwell 9, Brant 3, Miller 8, Mellott 3, Sensenbaugh 16, Henesy 6. Totals 21 29-36 73.
Man. Valley     5    6    13    17    —    41
Clear Spring    22    17    14    20    —    73
3-point goals — Manchester Valley 4 (Windisch 2, Evans, Bonner), Clear Spring 2 (Aaron, Brant). Fouled out — Manchester Valley 2 (Wilson, Evans). Technical Fouls — Manchster Valley 6 (Coach Koontz 2, Evans 2, Windisch, Wilson).

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