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Burrell boys basketball team cruises in its belated section opener

| Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, 10:32 p.m.
Burrell's #34 Matt Hess looks to score against Ford City's #30 Brandon Heilman during the basketball game at Burrell High School on Friday December 21, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

After winning five of six nonsection games, Burrell coach Rob Niederberger and the Bucs were eager to see what they could do against section competition.

And one can understand why after Burrell jumped to an early lead and rolled to a 65-48 home victory over Ford City on Friday.

The Bucs had a double-digit lead less than five minutes into the game and never looked back.

Burrell won the game in the frontcourt as Matt Hess had 18 points and eight rebounds, while Cole Bush had 17 points and 12 rebounds.

“You kind of want to start playing section games to see where you are,” Niederberger said. “The guys were excited, the coaches were excited, so it was nice to get one under our belts.”

Burrell had the off night on Dec. 14 then was scheduled to play Elderton on Tuesday, but that school closed over the summer.

Ford City slipped to 2-5, 0-3. The Sabers were held to a lone field goal in the first period and five overall in the first half.

“We knew with the senior-laden team that they had, you couldn't go down early,” said Ford City coach Greg Hutcherson. “They sustained it, and we couldn't grind to get back in it.”

Burrell took advantage of 13 Ford City turnovers in the first half. The offense was clicking for the Bucs, particularly on plays where Hess or Bush would cross the key near the baseline and take sharp passes from the top of the key.

Senior guard Alex White was credited with eight assists.

Hess scored the first four baskets of the second half, giving Burrell its biggest lead, 48-22, with 5:38 left in the third quarter.

“The first three quarters I thought we executed very well,” Niederberger said. “The fourth quarter? We're still looking for a full 32 minutes.”

One bright spot for Ford City was junior guard Jesse Sequeira, who led all scorers with 23 points.

“He and Dave Lattanzio are our scorers, and that's what we ask them to do,” Hutcherson said. “We need to get a little help from some other people, and we'll be OK.”

George Guido is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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