Article by Andy Sandrik, The Sentinel/Photo by Michael Bupp, The Sentinel
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The Carlisle and Cedar Cliff boys basketball teams both faced considerable adversity in the first games of the basketball season at Gene Evans Gymnasium on Friday night.
Neither team gave in.
Playing in the semifinal rounds of the 25th Annual Carlisle Classic Tournament, both teams found a way to overcome their hardships and as a result, will be playing in tonight’s championship game.
The defending champion Thundering Herd, without key players Kevin Willard and Dominic Ortiz in uniform, scrapped out a 39-35 victory over the Mechanicsburg Wildcats.
Cedar Cliff, facing a returning state playoff team in Warwick, overcame 20 turnovers to defeat the Warriors, 63-57.
Carlisle and Cedar Cliff, two former rivals in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division, take Carlisle’s home court for the championship game tonight at 7:30 p.m. Mechanicsburg and Warwick will square off in the consolation game at 6 p.m.
Thundering Herd coach Emery Cook said, “I think (Mechanicsburg coach) Bobby (Strickler) and I will be looking at the film of this game and saying, ‘What happened here? What happened on this play?'”
Carlisle (1-0) had a few lapses in Friday’s game and only got points from its five starters, but when it counted, the Herd came through for victory.
With the game deadlocked at 35-35 and with less than 50 seconds to play, Carlisle’s Lee Townsend was the hero, driving up the middle of the lane and scoring with a finger roll to give his team the lead for good.
Reggie Oberton, who finished tied for a team-high 10 points with Jonas Page, iced the game with a pair free throws with 10 seconds remaining.
“Lee made a big play,” Cook said of his 6-foot-1 forward. “We tried to get a set play under the basket. Lee was the alternate look and he got a good look and dropped it in.”
“You have to tip your hat,” Mechanicsburg coach Bob Strickler said. “Lee made a great play.”
Townsend finished the game with eight points and teammate Mirnes Hrbatovic also chipped in with nine. Mechanicsburg was led with 11 points from Anthony Stricker and nine points from Austin Schoffstall.
In the Cedar Cliff game earlier in the night, 6-foot-1 Tim Kelly played like he was 6-foot-6, posting 30 points, most of which came on the inside.
“I just heard that I had 30 points,” Kelly said. “I was able to get to the basket and make layups tonight.”
Cedar Cliff (1-0) led Warwick from the first quarter all the way into the fourth quarter, but the Colts began to cave with nine fourth-quarter turnovers.
Cedar Cliff’s Logan Stumpf completed a four-point play to give his team a 49-43 lead with just over six minutes to play. Less than a minute later, thanks to turnovers and an opportunistic Warwick offense, the Warriors were on top of the Colts, 50-49.
But Cedar Cliff kept scrapping. A pair of free throws from Kelly gave the Colts a 54-52 lead. On the ensuing Warwick possession, the Warriors missed and were limited to just one shot when Cedar Cliff’s Matt Acevedo, standing at 6-feet tall, outrebounded 6-foot-7 Eric Leisey for the ball. Acevedo chucked the ball to the other side of the court, where Kelly was there to finish the play and expand the Cedar Cliff advantage to 56-52.
Warwick pumped in a bucket to make it a one-possession game, but it was Kelly once again providing the spark. With less than a minute to play, Cedar Cliff broke Warwick’s press and Kelly scored the points, while also drawing a foul in the process. Kelly nailed his free throw to give Cedar Cliff a 59-54 lead, one that the Colts did not relinquish.
“Tim is excellent around the basket,” Cedar Cliff coach Jim Rowe said. “I’ve seen him do this time and time again. He’s 6-foot-1, but he plays a lot bigger than that.”
Only one team will leave the Carlisle Classic Tournament with an undefeated record tonight – either Carlisle or Cedar Cliff.
“Cedar Cliff is a big club, we better box out,” Cook said with a laugh. “Jim Rowe will have them prepared.”
Article by Geoff Morrow, The Patriot-News
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Aesthetically pleasing it was not.
But when longtime rivals Mechanicsburg and Carlisle do battle on the hardwood, it rarely is a thing of beauty.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t exciting, as this season-opening toast in the 25th Carlisle Classic tip-off tournament proved by coming down to the final seconds.
In the end, it was Lee Townsend’s runner with 45 seconds left that ultimately lifted the Thundering Herd to a 39-35 victory. Two free throws by Reggie Oberton with 10 seconds remaining sealed it.
“I’m sure Bobby [Strickler] and I will look at the film and both say, ‘Whoa!’” laughed Carlisle coach Emery Cook.
Strickler’s smaller Wildcats withstood a rough start to the contest, then controlled tempo with their 2-3 zone defense that gave Carlisle fits.
The largest lead for either team in the second half was five points, and the teams combined for only one field goal — Townsend’s runner — over the game’s final five minutes.
“I think their defense was confused on the play,” Townsend said of his game-winner, in which he received an in-bounds pass from Brandon Cheeseborough near the stripe. “I got the ball and did a move I’ve been practicing, and it went in.”
Obviously Mechanicsburg had chances to tie or go ahead, but shots were missed, and the Herd controlled the glass (38-29 advantage, led by Townsend’s 12 rebounds).
“We got pounded on the boards, and that’s something we’re going to have to work on,” said Strickler, who ran seven players out there listed under 6-0. “We have some growing to do.”
Playing without ineligible starters Kevin Willard and Dominic Ortiz, Carlisle didn’t seem to miss a beat early on. Talented sophomore Jonas Page nailed a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight points in the opening quarter as the Herd built a 16-8 advantage.
“He’s getting Division 1 looks already,” Cook said of Page, who eventually fouled out. “It’s only a matter of time before that young man gets noticed.”
The Wildcats rallied in the second quarter, outscoring Carlisle 15-4 and taking a four-point lead into halftime. Anthony Stricker, a 6-4 senior, led Mechanicsburg with 11 points, while 6-5 senior Austin Schoffstall added nine points and nine boards.
Oberton and Page tallied 10 points each to lead Carlisle, while Mirnes Hrbatovic (nine) and Townsend (eight) also approached double figures.
Carlisle meets Cedar Cliff in tonight’s championship game after Mechanicsburg and Warwick battle it out in the consolation game at 6.