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Fourth quarter sinks Charleroi

| Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 12:36 a.m.

For three quarters Tuesday night, the Charleroi boys' basketball team looked like a team starting five seniors with a 6-7 man-child coming off the bench.

For three quarters.

Unfortunately for the Cougars (0-2), there are four quarters in a game. And in those final eight minutes, the Blue Devils (2-2) outscored Charleroi 28-11 and turned an 11-point deficit into a 72-66 victory.

“We gave up some 3s, we said at halftime to take away the perimeter because that's where their game is,” said Charleroi coach Bill Wiltz. “I don't know what their percentage was from the 3-point line, but it had to be amazingly high.”

Early on, the Cougars found themselves down 10 quickly, but 6-7 sophomore John Arnold entered the game and created an instant matchup problem for the much-smaller Blue Devils. In a two minute span in the second quarter, he recorded three blocks, four rebounds and six points, and the Cougars went into the break with a 33-32 lead.

“Arnold played well offensively, gave us a spark,” Wiltz said.

In the third, Arnold electrified the gymnasium when he threw down a one-handed alley-oop dunk off a pass from Matt Carr. Arnold brought the fans to their feet a second time with another dunk, and the Cougars found themselves with a 55-44 lead heading into the final quarter.

However, Wiltz wasn't pleased with the two slams by Arnold, who had a game-high 20 points.

“That's for the fans,” Wiltz said. “I'm not happy about it because both times he dunks they get points off the transition because our kids were celebrating. He might as well have missed a shot. That's for the fans, nothing more.”

In the fourth quarter, Burgettstown adjusted and spread the floor, isolating Arnold and forcing him to cover a guard as they rained threes from every point on the perimeter.

The Blue Devils shot an incredible 75 percent from beyond the arc and four players reached double digits in points.

“We got in a position where Arnold had to watch a guard,” Wiltz said. “So we stepped in to help and they hit the open man and he hit the shot it seemed like every time in the fourth quarter. It flat out came down to shooting.”

The Blue Devils started the quarter on a 15-5 run and would tie the game with 3:00 remaining. They were able to take a brief lead with a minute to play, but senior Evan Anderson sank two free throws to tie the game at 66-66, 10 seconds later.

In the final 45 seconds, the Cougars turned the ball over three times and the Blue Devils took advantage.

Anderson finished with 11 points on the game, for Charleroi while Ryan Konek contributed 15 and Matt Indorante added 13.

Burgettstown was led by Hunter Lecker and Ryan Christy with 14 point each while Logan Triebsch had 13 and Tyler Linke had 12.

When asked what was the difference from the Cougars winning and losing this game, Wiltz immediately pointed to perimeter defense.

“Defending and defending the 3-pointer specifically. We take pride in our man-to-man defense and it just wasn't there,” Wiltz said. “We were getting beat on the perimeter and we'd step to take away the layup and they would kick it out and hit the shot.

“We have to be able to defend a whole heck of a lot better than we did, especially with the game on the line like that.”

After losing two games at home to start the season, the Cougars will take to the road for their next game.

Charleroi opens play in Section 5-AA on Friday at Bentworth.

The Bearcats are 0-1 so far this season.

Donnie Tasser is a freelance writer.

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