Connellsville clamps down on Indiana
Although Friday's game against Indiana was a nonsection affair, it may end up being the biggest game of the season for the Connellsville boys basketball team.
The Falcons put forth their best effort of the season in a 46-37 win over the Indians, a team that came into the game with 11 victories. It was also Connellsville's second win in a row.
“The guys are getting better,” Connellsville coach Dan Bosnic said.
After a slow start to the season, the Falcons are finally starting to get some desired results.
“For the most part, we put in a full-game effort against a good basketball team,” Bosnic said.
Connellsville was the stronger team inside and hit big outside shots. Defensively, Connellsville (4-11) held Indiana (11-4) without a basket until nearly six minutes had passed in the first quarter. The Indians also were held without a basket for the opening five minutes of the third quarter.
“We preach it (defense) to the boys, and they believe in it,” Bosnic said. “They're getting better, and because of that effort, we were successful.”
While the team excelled on defense, the offense came through in key situations. Each team struggled to find any offense early, but the Falcons got going behind clutch first-half 3-pointers from Jim Leichliter, Jade Maher and Mike Parlak. Leichliter, in particular, was impressive from the perimeter, hitting four treys and finishing with a team-high 16 points.
“Our kids all did a great job of going after the ball offensively, and Jim Leichliter hit some big shots for us,” Bosnic said.
Connellsville led, 21-16, at halftime and dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Indians, 19-6.
Trent Bauer, who had a quiet first half, hit two big shots in the paint to help Connellsville take a 40-22 lead.
The Indians' best offensive push came in the fourth quarter as Riley Stapleton tried to bring his team back. Stapleton, who scored a game-high 18 points, tallied 10 points in the final frame, including a 3-pointer that cut Connellsville's lead to 44-34 with three minutes to go.
“We cut it to 10, but the bottom line is we have to put the ball in the basket,” Indiana coach Greg Lezanic said. “It was an extremely physical game, and for the first three quarters, we didn't match their physicality. We only gave up 46 points, but you're not going to win many games scoring 37. We knew we would struggle with the man-to-man, and they made some shots. We just have to wipe it from our memory banks and get ready for section games next week.”
Bauer, who finished with 10 points, hit two big baskets in the fourth quarter to help Connellsville hold off Indiana's charge. Maher also was clutch with two free throws on his way to a nine-point night.
Connellsville will play another nonsection game Saturday at home against Ringgold, and the Falcons will no doubt be looking to build on the previous night's performance.
“(Indiana) is one of the top teams in AAA, but I think we played good basketball and I'm definitely excited about it,” Bosnic said.
Jason Black is the Local Sports Editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.