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Geibel, Holmes beat Charleroi

| Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004

FALLOWFIELD TOWNSHIP - Four Charleroi Area boys' basketball players stormed the court en mass, nearly stampeding over the referee.

Since the substitution buzzer had not sounded, the foursome was forced to reassemble at the scorer's table before once again invading the court with even more fervor.

The Cougars (3-8) displayed that all-business attitude Wednesday, but it just wasn't enough to stop the scoring machine that is Geibel (8-1). The Gators took home their second straight Charleroi Federal Tournament title with a 74-68 victory.

"When my kids show that kind of passion and play with emotion, it's fun for us to coach," Charleroi coach Greg Melvin said. "Win or lose, that's all I ask."

Pure effort, though, could not offset Gator stars Rob Ramsey and Kellen Holmes -

who combined for 47 points and 18 rebounds.

"With Ramsey handling the ball and Holmes driving to the basket, we know they're either going to score or get fouled," Geibel coach Ken Misiak said. "It was a tournament atmosphere, their home court. There were times we'd get the momentum and then let them get back into the ballgame, but Charleroi showed they really wanted this game."

The Cougars would receive double-digit scoring from four players, including Alex Kirtley (19 points), Devaron Ford (14) and Travis Karlowsky (11).

But it was a career performance from senior Chad Young (18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) that allowed the Cougars to keep pace. The Cougars made things harder on themselves with a 9-for-22 performance from the free throw line.

"That game wasn't over until the final seconds and that's playing with heart," Melvin said. "We got beat on the boards more than we thought and it was those stinking foul shots again, but other than that, we played a good game and closed the gap."

In the fourth quarter, Charleroi trimmed its deficit to five on four separate occasions. After Young drove for a lay-in to make it 71-66 with less than one minute remaining, the forward darted in to steal a backcourt pass by Geibel. Young raced down for a lay-up that would've pulled his team within one possession, but the ball banked harmlessly off the glass. Holmes would soon follow with his second slam dunk of the game to seal the win.

"Chad's heart was broken more than mine, you could see it, but so what if the kid missed a lay-up?" Melvin said. "We needed him to contribute and he did. He still had some nice passes and rebounds while playing on a sore leg."

Although Charleroi provided drama in the fourth quarter, it was Geibel's 17-8 run in the third that put the Cougars behind by double digits. Ramsey and Holmes scored every point during a 9-0 run, including a thunderous Holmes' dunk that seemed to rattle the Cougars.

Holmes' jam came off a steal at mid-court, one of eight Charleroi turnovers in the third quarter. The Gators switch to a man-to-man defense after halftime not only forced those miscues, but held the Cougars to just six shots - zero from Young.

"We started looking to double-team him more and get Holmes a little more active on him," Misiak said of Young. "Generally, we were a trapping team in the past. This year, we have a little more speed and aggressiveness, so we've been playing more man-to-man."

On offense, Gator guards Mitch Erdely, Mario Fragello and Mike Speelman hit five 3-pointers and the Cougars' mixed defense was forced to respect the perimeter. Although they finished just 5-of-18 from behind the arc, the Gators weren't afraid to keep firing it up thanks to 19 offensive rebounds. Holmes, who soared above everyone several times, pulled down nine of those.

"He's just way above the rim and he keeps up in the ballgame," Misiak said. "We have some pretty good shooters off the bench in Speelman and Fragello, they just need to shoot more."

Melvin, along with assistants Bruno Pappasergi and Brian Corrin, worked the referees hard for calls on the 6-foot-3 Holmes. They got none.

"We thought we'd get a couple over-the-back calls on him," Melvin said. "They said, 'He's just a good athlete, Coach, and he's out-jumping your kids' and they were right, he's the best leaper we've seen."

Melvin knows if his team continues playing with the same fire, they will make the playoffs -"if" being the key word. The Cougars are 0-3 thus far in Class AA Section 5.

"We still have to face the toughest two teams (Fort Cherry and Washington)," Melvin said. "If we play with heart and passion like we did tonight, it could be a different story."

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