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Kiski Area pulls away from Connellsville with 11-0 run to start second half

| Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 11:51 p.m.
Lori Padilla | For the Daily Courier
Connellsville's Griffin Thompson drives past Kiski Area's Joe Brungo during a Section 1-AAAA game Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, at Connellsville.
Lori Padilla | For the Daily Courier
Connellsville's Caleb Pittsment (25) puts up a shot in front of Kiski's Billy Johnson (on the floor) and Matt Besiglia (15) during a Section 1-AAAA game on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 at Connellsville High School.
Lori Padilla | For the Daily Courier
Kiski's Joe Brungo puts up a shot over Connellsville's Trent Bauer during a Section 1-AAAA game on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 at Connellsville High School.

During Friday's Section 1-AAAA boys basketball game between Connellsville and visiting Kiski Area, both had their share of momentum.

The Falcons and Cavaliers seemed to take turns making runs throughout the game, but it was the Cavaliers who came up with an 11-0 spurt to start the second half, which ultimately lifted them to a hard-fought 66-56 victory over the Falcons.

“It was a heck of a game,” Kiski Area coach Joe Tutchstone said. “It was a game of runs, and it was very competitive.”

It also was a game that featured one key adjustment by Kiski Area.

Early in the game, the Cavaliers (7-3, 4-0) were able to take a 13-12 lead thanks to a couple of long-range shots from Mike Simmons, who finished with five 3-pointers and a game-high 28 points.

Simmons also connected on a 3-pointer in the second quarter, as did Joe Brungo, who scored 16 points.

Other than that, Kiski Area's offense struggled, and the Falcons (5-4, 1-2) did a great job of clogging up the area around the basket.

Connellsville's defensive energy seemed to spark the offense as the Falcons put together a 6-0 run that gave them an 18-13 lead.

Trent Bauer, Caleb Pittsment and Jimmy Leichliter each came through down low to help Connellsville grab the lead. Leichliter finished with a team-high 25 points, followed by Bauer with 12 points and Pittsment with 10.

Up by eight, the Falcons appeared to be in control heading into the second half. But in the third quarter, things changed as Kiski Area went to work on finding open shots. Despite their early struggles, the Cavaliers continued to try to work inside, only this time, there was a slight hitch in their game plan.

“I told my guys that when we get the ball in the lane, we have to dump it off,” Tutchstone said. “We made the extra pass, and we started hitting the outside shots.”

Simmons was the primary beneficiary of those extra passes, and he connected more often than not. Simmons scored 18 second-half points to propel Kiski Area.

For the Falcons, giving up 11 straight points to start the third quarter was a turning point.

“I think that when they went on that run, that was the difference in the game,” Connellsville coach Dan Bosnic said. “I take full responsibility. For whatever reason, we didn't come out ready in the third quarter.”

Kiski also did a nice job of controlling the clock, thanks to some big offensive rebounds, especially in the fourth quarter. The Falcons put the Cavaliers on the line late, but Kiski sealed the win from the line in the closing minutes.

“It's disappointing, and I take responsibility,” Bosnic said.

For the Cavaliers, the win kept them at the top of the section standings.

“It's huge, and I couldn't be more proud of my guys,” Tutchstone said. “They worked hard.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at jblack@tribweb.com.

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