CLEAR SPRING—The Clear Spring boys basketball team turned a one-point lead entering the fourth quarter into a 61-47 victory over North Carroll on Tuesday night in the first round of the Maryland Class 1A West playoffs.
The Blazers (8-13) took advantage of seven turnovers and six fouls by the Panthers in the final period to outscore them 25-12. Freshman Michael Riley led Clear Spring with seven points in the fourth quarter and senior Ryan Aaron was right behind him with six — four coming from the free-throw line.
“It started with getting defensive stops, and we got good possessions and got to the free-throw line,” said Clear Spring coach Ryan Grabill. “I thought Ryan showed great senior leadership and we took care of business at the line, going 19-for-24.”
Aaron led all scorers with 21 points and Riley had 15. Jared Brant added 10 points and Collin Schultz had eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
“(Aaron) is a three-year starter and we want the ball to be his to control, and he did a good job,” said Grabill. “It seemed that he and (Riley) alternated getting big shots on their possessions. (Schultz) quietly had a good game as well.”
Clear Spring entered the second half nursing a 21-19 lead before exploding on a 9-2 run — including five points from Aaron — prompting a North Carroll timeout.
The Panthers came out swinging after the timeout, cutting the deficit to four points at 32-28. The Blazers committed nine fouls in the third quarter — six against Sean Nevin, who hit nine of 11 free throws and scored 11 of the Panthers’ 16 third-quarter points.
Nevin led North Carroll with 18 points and six rebounds, but fouled out of the game with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
“(Nevin) was hard for us to handle. He was a load in the paint and made the most of his free throws. It worked to our advantage when he fouled out,” Grabill said.
Neither the Blazers nor the Panthers could establish a rhythm in the first half. Clear Spring went 8-for-24 from the field with eight turnovers and nine fouls, while North Carroll went 7-for-18 with 12 turnovers and 10 fouls.
With the victory, Clear Spring travels to Brunswick on Thursday.
“We’re going to have to play really well on Thursday. Brunswick’s coached well and very good at the guard position,” said Grabill.
Clear Spring 61, North Carroll 47
NORTH CARROLL (4-19)
Whitehead 5, Joyce 6, Flowers 3, Z. Sherman 2, N. Sherman 4, Kwayi 2, Nevin 18, Witt 5, Weitzel 2. Totals 13 17-29 47.
CLEAR SPRING (8-13)
Jar. Brant 10, Elwood 2, Riley 15, Aaron 21, C. Schultz 8, Jac. Brant 1, Fisher 4. Totals 20 19-24 61.
North Carroll 12 7 16 12 — 47
Clear Spring 13 8 15 25 — 61
3-point goals — North Carroll 2 (Joyce, Witt), Clear Spring 2 (Riley, Aaron). Fouled out — Z. Sherman, Nevin.