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Latrobe boys pull away from Connellsville

| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 10:04 p.m.
Connellsville's Jim Leichliter tries to dribble out of trouble while being guarded by Latrobe's Will Wears (24) during Tuesday's game. Lori Padilla/For the Daily Courier

Although Tuesday's Section 1-AAAA boys basketball game between Latrobe and host Connellsville was a tight contest through most of the first quarter, it didn't take long for the teams to start heading in opposite directions.

The Wildcats seemed to score at will and in a variety of fashions, all while playing turnover-inducing defense. The Falcons, on the other hand, were outplayed in many aspects of the game, and it showed as Latrobe walked away with an 82-59 victory.

“These are high school kids, and hopefully this will be a learning experience for them and something they will grow from,” Connellsville coach Dan Bosnic said. “The effort we gave is not what we need for winning basketball, and it's really disappointing.”

The Wildcats were the stronger team on the glass, and it resulted in numerous second and third chances offensively. Latrobe had five players score in double figures with Will Wears leading the way with 18 points.

“We have a tremendous amount of respect for Connellsville, and we knew we would have our hands full,” Latrobe coach Brad Wetzel said. “But I think in the first half we did a nice job of getting to the boards and we applied decent pressure in the back court. We ran some good offenses and we didn't make silly or poor decisions, and we showed some discipline.”

Connellsville's only lead was at 11-10, but Latrobe's Chad Kissel hit three straight shots to put the Wildcats in front 16-11 with two minutes left in the first quarter. Kissel finished with 15 points.

The baskets kept coming for Latrobe (8-4, 3-1) as Ben Havrilla, Matt Cullen, Blake Reeping, Kissel and Wears each scored in the second quarter to push Latrobe's lead to 42-38 at the half.

Havrilla finished with 13 points, followed by Reeping with 12 points and Cullen with 11.

In the third quarter, Connellsville (2-10, 0-4) cut Latrobe's edge to 54-41 as Jim Leichliter, Trent Bauer, Caleb Pittsment and Jade Maher each scored. Leichliter led the Falcons with 13 points, and Pittsment had 11. Maher and Bauer each had 10 points.

However, Connellsville's rally was quickly snuffed out as Kissel came through with three more baskets in the third quarter to end any remaining doubt about the outcome.

“Connellsville and us are right in the middle of the pile, and getting the win on the road helps us a little bit,” Wetzel said.

The Wildcats have won three in a row. For the Falcons, the struggles continue; Connellsville has dropped seven straight.

“We were undisciplined, and we're not handling things the correct way defensively,” Bosnic said, noting that prior to Tuesday's game, his team was taking steps in the right direction. “It goes back to effort and lack of focus. It's wanting to sprint back and talk to each other. A lot of this has to do with want-to. It's really disappointing.”

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jblack@tribweb.com.

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