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Connellsville struggles to score in loss to Hempfield

| Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, 10:28 p.m.
Connellsville's Caleb Pittsment drives the lane for a basket during Connnellsville's match up against Hempfield at Connellsville Area High School on Friday, December 21, 2012. Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier

The Connellsville boys basketball team has produced some low point totals this season.

Only twice have the Falcons cracked the 50-point mark in their first seven games. But Connellsville won a pair of games by playing strong defensively.

On Friday, Connellsville again struggled to score and also failed to contain Hempfield's top shooter, and the result was a 62-44 win for the visiting Spartans.

Kason Harrell led Hempfield with 22 points, leading the Spartans in their third win in a row. Connellsville has dropped two in a row, and both were Section 1-AAAA games.

“We struggled with the basketball,” Connellsville coach Dan Bosnic said. “We had some opportunities against their pressure to make plays on the backside, and we didn't do a good job of finishing.”

Hempfield (6-1, 2-1) used a combination of defenses, including a pressure man-to-man that seemed to give the Falcons (2-5, 0-2) fits at times when they tried to exit their zone.

“They made adjustments, and we had a hard time holding them off, and we're seeing guys struggle with the basketball,” Bosnic said. “But we'll fight through it and get better. We need guys to put the ball in the hole.”

The Falcons started well as Trent Bauer looked like he was setting up for a big game with six points in the first quarter.

Connellsville held the early advantage, but Harrell and Tyler George hit some key shots to put Hempfield in front, 14-10. The Spartans never surrendered the lead.

In the second quarter, Jim Leichliter and Caleb Pittsment each scored six points for Connellsville, but Hempfield extended its lead thanks to strong inside play from Tony Pilato, who finished with 11 points.

Hempfield led, 34-24, at the half, and the Spartans quickly pulled away early in the third quarter as Harrell began to dominate. He scored the first five points of the quarter and finished it with five baskets and 14 points as Hempfield raced out to a 52-34 lead.

“We preach defense, and we stepped it up and made plays,” Hempfield coach Jim Nesser said. “Kason has a great passion for the game. In the first half, I didn't think we had energy, and at halftime, we talked about energy. In the second half, we picked up our energy, and it got Kason going, too.”

After starting fast, Bauer finished with nine points to lead Connellsville. Mike Parlak, Leichliter and Pittsment each added eight.

Connellsville never made a serious threat to get back in the game after Hempfield's fast start in the third quarter.

“We lost our way in the second half,” Bosnic said. “They extended to 15 (points) on their first two possessions, and from there, we were chasers. It's a learning experience for these guys.”

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com or 724-626-3534.

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