Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel
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The smiles on the faces of Cedar Cliff’s Christo Majok and Nol Aru said it all after the duo led the Colts to a 78-68 victory over Mechanicsburg at the newly refurbished and full Colts Den.
The junior duo transferred to Cedar Cliff a couple of years ago after spending several years at Mechanicsburg in the middle-school program. They combined for 32 points and created havoc as Colt coach Jim Rowe moved Majok to the top of the key to guard the Mechanicsburg point guard and employed Aru on a wing to double-team or trap the guards.
They created several turnovers in the opening half and again toward the end of the game when the Wildcats were trying to keep it close. Aru and Majok tallied the final 10 points in the contest, with Aru adding two thunderous dunks.
“Coach moved Christo up on the point guard because he is tall and lanky, and we were both supposed to trap any time we had the chance to do so,” Aru said. He tallied 25 points, including 11 baskets inside the paint. “We had a great crowd in our first game here, and they`really got us going tonight.”
The Colts rode the early energy out to a 9-2 lead, forcing Wildcat coach Bob Strickler to call a timeout. The Wildcats responded and took a 13-11 lead on a Jimmy Spanos jumper.
Cedar Cliff (2-0 Keystone, 4-0 overall) retook the lead as Tim Kelly scored in the paint and Matt Acevedo scored on an old-fashioned three-point play before Aru scored on a put-back to close the quarter up, 18-13.
Spanos sparked the Colts in the second quarter, draining four shots from beyond the arc, and point guard David Strausbaugh scored twice in the paint for a 36-33 halftime edge for the Wildcats.
Mechanicsburg (0-2 Keystone, 0-4 overall) maintained its edge throughout the third stanza as Spanos drained two more treys and Austin Schoffstall scored three times in the paint for a 42-37 third-quarter advantage.
Cedar Cliff kept the game close; the Colts were able to get points in the paint and find Logan Stumpf. He canned two treys in the quarter and added a total of five treys in the game.
A Stumpf three-pointer capped a seven-point run for a 58-53 Colts lead, and the ‘Cats could get no closer than one or two points.
“This was not a 10-point game tonight,” Rowe said. “Mechanicsburg brought their “A” game. I think they got a bit tired in the second half. I thought in the first half we got our hands on balls but didn’t come away with them, and in the second half we controlled those balls. Stumpf hit some big shots and Kelly is so consistent. We got rebounds in the second half, and we had 18 assists, which means we were sharing the ball.”
Strausbaugh knocked down a foul shot to cut the lead to 64-62, but the Colts salted the game away with fast-break layups and foul shots, scoring 14 of the final 20 points.
Spanos led all Wildcat scorers with 25 points, including seven three-point goals. Schoffstall scored 14, Strausbaugh added 13 and sophomore John Thompson added 10 more.
Aru led the Colts with 25 and was supported by Stumpf with 19 and Tim Kelly with 16.
“They (Christo and Nol) are good athletes, and they created some problems for us,” Strickler said. “Some of the problems were things we didn’t do right (forcing passes and not blocking out). I felt we are much more of a team that likes to run our offense, and they didn’t let us some times tonight. I would love to give these kids a win tonight, but we are 0-4 – they deserve one, and we need to get them one. We have been in every game, but we just need to tighten up some of those little things.
“Austin and Jimmy got going tonight, and we got some good things out of some young kids – Thompson, Andrew Spanos, Collin Farnham and Jake Trump.”
Mechanicsburg hosts Lower Dauphin Tuesday while the Colts travel to Hershey the same night.