Connellsville pulls away in 3rd quarter to beat Baldwin
The Connellsville boys basketball team showed Tuesday night that it can compete in a number of different ways.
The Falcons locked things down defensively at key times, and they ran an up-tempo attack with success on their way to a 68-53 nonsection victory over Baldwin in their home opener.
“I think we did a good job of getting the ball out and getting opportunities, and I think we were disruptive on defense,” Connellsville coach Dan Bosnic said.
Jimmy Leichliter played strong for four quarters and netted a game-high 24 points to lead the Falcons.
“He did a good job of playing a complete basketball game,” Bosnic said.
“What I mean by that is that he was attentive on defense, and he let the offense come to him.”
Early in the game, Connellsville (2-1) took advantage of several Baldwin turnovers and converted them into a 15-13 lead. In the second quarter, Austin Heinbaugh came off the bench and made two baskets to push Connellsville's lead to 32-27 at the half.
In the second half, the Highlanders, who stayed close through the first two quarters, quickly took a 33-32 lead thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Jon DeGregorio and Ethan McClure.
It was at that point that the Falcons called a timeout.
“We gave up two uncontested shots, and we identified an area where they were attacking,” Bosnic said. “The kids made the adjustment, and for the most part they only got one shot, and it was a challenged shot.”
Baldwin coach Joe Urmann also recognized that many of his team's possessions were limited to one-shot opportunities.
“They really killed us on the boards,” Urmann said. “I think their length bothered us. And, defensively, we had too many turnovers. We need to find guards that can play consistently well without hurting us.”
Arnes Bajgora led Baldwin (0-3) with 12 points, and DeGregorio followed with 11 points.
The lead switched hands six times in the third quarter, but the Falcons, behind another big scoring effort from Leichliter and a clutch 3-pointer from Jake Swartz, built a 48-41 lead heading into the fourth.
In the final eight minutes, the Falcons stayed aggressive and finished strong from the foul line. Mike Parlak, Trent Bauer, Jade Maher, Alex Farris and Heinbaugh each put up points from the line to help close out the win.
Maher was Connellsville's second-leading scorer with 11 points.
Caleb Pittsment finished with eight points, followed by seven each from Bauer and Heinbaugh. For the Falcons, it was a great way to begin play in their renovated gymnasium.
“The gym is beautiful, and we had a nice crowd and this was a nice way to christen the new gym,” Bosnic said.
The Falcons are off until Saturday when they host Trinity at 1:30 p.m.
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at email@example.com.