CLEAR SPRING—You can call the Clear Spring boys basketball team the “Cardiac Blazers.”
After an abysmal first half that saw Clear Spring down nine points to Williamsport, the Blazers weathered the storm and roared back in the second half to defeat the Wildcats 53-44 in front of a huge Clear Spring crowd.
Clear Spring (3-0, 1-0) jumped out to a 9-6 lead in the first quarter, which quickly evaporated on a seven-point run by Williamsport, five of which came from Tyler Wise. The Wildcats continued to pound the Blazers in the second, as Alex Aleshire went 3-for-3 from the floor — all mid-range jumpers — and Wise hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give Williamsport (1-2, 0-1) a 26-17 lead at the break.
Clear Spring managed a measly 6-for-22 shooting in the first half, with Mikey Sensenbaugh leading the team with eight points (two field goals, 4-for-6 from the line).
“We were just overwhelmed in the first half,” said Clear Spring coach Ryan Grabill. “We could have folded after that, it’s a credit to our guys that we kept playing hard.”
Williamsport came out hot to start the third quarter, going on a six-point run to extend its lead to 15 points. But then Clear Spring found its stroke.
After trading pairs of field goals, The Blazers went on a 12-1 run to end the period and cut the deficit to four points. Sam Elwood hit four of six free throws and Nick Hill scored six of his game-high 16 points to lead the charge. Clear Spring’s defense also stepped up, forcing four Williamsport turnovers.
“We just threw the ball away,” said Williamsport coach Scott Mowbray. “We were up 15 points and they went to the half-court trap and we threw the ball away. It’s just some things we need to work on in the gym.”
The tension in the fourth quarter could have been cut with a knife, as the home crowd could sense the possibility of a Clear Spring win. The Blazers tied the game at 37 with a pair of buckets by Hill and Chris Miller, sending the “Clear Spring Crazies” into a frenzy.
The crowd was quieted quickly, as Wise and Brandon Jackson each hit a pair of free throws to put Williamsport up 41-37. On the next Clear Spring possession, however, Ryan Aaron turned and hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to spark a 10-2 run by the Blazers — including six by Hill — putting them up 47-43.
“I didn’t think about it, I just tried to shoot the ball,” said Aaron. “I just tried to get in rhythm.”
Wise hit another free throw to get the Wildcats within three points, but two more free throws by Elwood put the game away.
“It’s a game of momentum. Our crowd is electric and crazy, and our guys fed off of that,” said Grabill. “We rotated in bodies, stayed fresh, and got turnovers. I’m glad we could get this win in our home opener.”
“Nick Hill decided to take over the second half, that’s what a team’s best player is supposed to do,” said Mowbray. “We lost our composure, and some of our guys didn’t get enough rest. I’ve got to find a way to get our guys some rest during the game so we can be fresher than we are coming down the stretch.”
Wise had a team-high 13 points for Williamsport, and Aleshire finished with 10.
Clear Spring 53, Williamsport 44
WILLIAMSPORT (1-2, 0-1)
Jackson 6, Butts 8, Aleshire 10, Wise 13, Barr 1, Seibert 2, Fridley 4. Totals 16 11-19 44.
CLEAR SPRING (3-0, 1-0)
Elwood 9, Hill 16, Weaver 2, Aaron 10, Walling 2, Miller 6, Sensenbaugh 8. Totals 19 12-16 53.
Williamsport 13 13 11 7 — 44
Clear Spring 9 8 16 20 — 53
3-point goals — Williamsport 1 (Wise); Clear Spring 3 (Aaron 2, Elwood). Rebounds — Williamsport 20 (Aleshire 9); Clear Spring 21 (Miller 6). Assists — Williamsport 12 (Aleshire, Fridley 3 each); Clear Spring 9 (Elwood 6). Turnovers — Williamsport 18, Clear Spring 8. JV — Clear Spring, 53-38. (W: Ellis 19; CS: Lazich 15).