OLSH runs over weary Clairton
One of these days the Clairton boys basketball team will get the band back together and play with its full contingent of players.
Until then, the Bears continue to muddle through — and remain surprisingly competitive — against some of the best teams in Class A.
For the first time this season, Clairton (8-4) played with its three ‘Killer Ts' Pitt football recruits Wednesday against Trib Total Media Class A No. 5 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (13-3).
Despite 16 points from senior Tyler Boyd, the Bears, still feeling the effects of winning their fourth consecutive PIAA Class A football title, were out of basketball shape, losing, 65-48, to the Chargers.
“Most teams are in basketball shape in January, and we're still feeling our way around,” Clairton coach Matt Geletko said. “Conditioning is definitely an issue, and I don't know with playing all these games if it's a good thing because if we had more practice time, we could get in better shape.”
Because of football recruiting visits and other minutia, Clairton has not put its projected starting five on the floor at any point this season. Last weekend, the Bears were without Titus Howard and Terrish Webb, who made verbal commitments to Pitt but took an official visit to Toledo.
This weekend they will be without Boyd, who despite stating on national television at the U.S. Army All-America Bowl that he would play for the Panthers, will visit Tennessee.
Clairton was without senior starting forward JoJuan Bray and freshman forward Aaron Matthews, and the team could have used both against a strong inside attack led by Nick Metz and Kendall Paige, who combined for 31 points and 16 rebounds. Even though the team rebounding was even at 34-34 apiece, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart had the advantage late when it counted as the Chargers outclassed the Bears, 10-6, on the glass in the fourth quarter.
“JoJuan is another rebounder, he's another inside guy, and Matthews is another guy that can hit the glass and score around the hoop,” Geletko said. “That definitely hurt us, but we had enough guys out there that we should have had a better showing.”
As the game wore on, though, it became readily apparent Clairton was out of sync and that conditioning was an issue. The Bears trailed, 42-39, after three quarters, but OLSH went on a 9-0 run to start the fourth, including 5 of 6 from the line, as the Bears were stuck flatfooted and had to foul when the Chargers went inside.
OLSH was 22 of 33 from the charity stripe. Clairton was just 4 of 12.
“That's no reflection on them because I think they're just starting to get their basketball legs under them,” Our Lady of the Sacred Heart coach Mike Rodriguez said. “They are such tremendous athletes, and we are fans of theirs. We've watched their football games, and they're very nice kids ... and I think they're going to be a dangerous team come playoff time.”