SHEFFIELD TWP. — How many times have you seen it? A basketball team gets a reasonable lead, but somehow lets the other guys hang around. And in the end, the other guys walk away with a win.
It happened to Elyria Catholic on Tuesday night. The Panthers led by nine points and were running their offense well late in the third quarter. But they let Clearview hang around.
The Clippers put together an 8-0 run late in the fourth, took the lead on a big play by James Washington and scored a 69-63 victory in a fan-friendly non-conference game. After Washington converted a three-point play with 2:35 to go, Clearview never again trailed.
“Our point guard penetrated to get me open,” Washington said. “He gave me a little bounce pass and all I was thinking about was finishing, because I missed a couple in there. I just wanted to finish it and put my team ahead.”
He finished it with a layup basket that put Clearview on top, 62-61, was fouled and added the free throw. Free throws, it seems, have not been Washington’s strong suit.
“It could be better,” he said of his foul shooting. “I just haven’t been concentrating will all that other stuff on my mind, the fans and stuff. I just gotta relax myself and calm myself down.”
The three-point play was the exclamation point on a comeback that delighted Clippers coach John Szalay.
“There were times when we looked bad and they got the lead to seven or eight, but our kids kept trying,” said Szalay. “We’ve got some good team speed and good athletes. When you have that and they work hard, you always have a chance to make a steal or disrupt a team.
“I think when we went to our little half-court trap (late in the game), we disrupted them a little bit,” he said. “The kids like it when I call that defense and I think it gave our kids the little spark they were missing. James (Washington) went out there and got some deflections and our bench came through big. We rely on a lot of people.”
EC led 12-5 midway through the first quarter and 25-17 late in the second. But the Panthers let Clearview stick around. The Clippers went on a 9-0 run – five by Tony Williams – and trailed just 29-27 at the half. Again, EC pushed its lead out to nine points, 45-36, five minutes into the third quarter. But with junior Mike Mealy scoring a basket and 3-point goal, the Clippers cut the deficit to 51-47 after three quarters.
The Clippers trailed 61-55 in the fourth quarter when they launched their decisive 8-0 run. Williams hit a foul shot, Anthony Hitchens scored back-to-back field goals and Washington completed his big three-point play and Clearview led, 63-61. EC tied it on Jacob Schuster’s basket with 2:01 to play, but that was the end of Panthers scoring.
EC’s Paul Kubuski, with 15 big second-half points, finished with a game-high 21. Kevin Fentner, who drilled two 3-point goals in the third quarter, added 17 and Joe Fitch 11, all in the first half. Washington and Williams scored 16 each for Clearview. Williams and Kyle Baughman each hit two of the Clippers’ six 3-point baskets.
“They just outplayed us down the stretch,” EC coach Alan Januzzi said of the Clearview comeback. “We couldn’t convert. We were getting the ball inside, but just couldn’t put it in the basket. We came up empty on a lot of possessions and they hit some shots down the stretch.
“I don’t really know what to tell my guys, because I don’t think they could have done anything else,” Januzzi said. “I think they played as well as they can play tonight. Things just didn’t go their way.”
Clearview 69, Elyria Catholic 63
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (63): Joe Januzzi 0-2-2, Adam Kirsch 1-0-2, Jacob Schuster 2-0-5, Joe Fitch 4-3-11, Ryan Taylor 2-1-5, Kevin Fentner 4-6-17, Nick Ksenich 0-0-0, Paul Kubuski 6-7-21. Totals: 19-21-63.
CLEARVIEW (69): Anthony Hitchens 4-1-9, Anthony Henson 2-0-5, Jordan Celestino 2-2-6, James Washington 7-2-16, Lucas Wright 0-0-0, Ricki Perkins 2-0-4, E.J. Neely 0-0-0, Miguel Couvertier 0-0-0, Kyle Baughman 2-2-8, Tony Williams 6-2-16, Mike Mealy 2-0-5. Totals: 27-9-69.
Elyria Catholic 16 13 22 12 – 63
Clearview 9 18 20 22 – 69
3-point goals: EC 4-10 (Fentner 3, Schuster); Clearview 6-19 (Williams 2, Baughman 2, Henson, Mealy). Field goals: EC 19-55 (34.6 percent); Clearview 27-51 (53 percent). Free throws: EC 21-26; Clearview 9-20. Rebounds: EC 31; Clearview 33. Turnovers: EC 18; Clearview 21. Fouled out: Fitch, Taylor.
Junior varsity: Clearview, 44-40.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.