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Henry’s Late Shot Lifts Keystone Past Clarion
Clarion, which lost a pair of one-point games in the tournament, had taken a 48-47 lead when Josh Craig hit a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left to cap a 12-3 Bobcat lead.
But Keystone was able to run the floor with Henry getting the solid look for the lead.
“I would have (called a timeout) if we had not had a transition opportunity there,” Keystone head coach Greg Heath said. “I would have thought about it. As it was, we had an opportunity, and I wasn’t going to mess with that.”
For the senior Henry, it was his only basket of the game.
“Make the layup,” Henry said is what he was thinking. “The scoreboard doesn’t really matter. It is just about all the fundamentals.”
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Cam Craig had two chances in the final five seconds to win the game for Clarion, which was out of timeouts. But his runner in the lane was a bit strong, and then, after he fought to get his own rebound in the right corner, his desperation heave bounced on the rim a couple of time times but wouldn’t go.
Until the midpoint of the fourth quarter, the game was really a tale of two halves with Clarion controlling the play early and Keystone taking over after the break.
The Bobcats ran out to a 14-4 lead behind seven points from Craig and led 28-22 at halftime. It was the second straight night that Keystone trailed by double digits in the first quarter.
“I don’t know how to get them jump-started early,” Heath said. “It seems like we are a passive group at the beginning of games. I can’t explain it.”
After Clarion pushed the lead back to eight, 30-22, on another bucket by Craig, who finished with 18 points and four rebounds, at the start of the second half, Keystone went on a 19-2 run to seemingly take control of the game.
Brooks LaVan and Corey Rapp were the offensive catalysts with Rapp netting seven of his 11 points during the stretch that started with a Rapp basket with 6:41 to play in the third quarter and ended with a Dalton Jones hoop two minutes into the fourth quarter and LaVan hit a pair of 3-pointers – he finished with three triples and 12 points.
“We talked about relaxing on the offensive end,” Heath said. “They are capable. They are just not playing good offensive basketball. They are not getting in a flow. The ball is not moving. We did a better job in the second half with that.”
A zone defense that doesn’t have a name played a key role in the run, that turned the eight-point deficit into a nine-point, 41-32, lead.
“It’s like a 3-2 that morphs into a 2-3,” Heath said. “It’s hard to describe. I don’t know it it has name.
“It does a very good job of getting out on perimeter shooters and it’s very a difficult zone to penetrate against, which is why we like to use it. I saw that being exactly what we needed to do then.”
Heath’s no-name defense limited Clarion, which had made nine baskets in the first half, to four baskets through the first 13 ½ minutes of the second half.
Despite its trouble scoring, Clarion was able to get back in the game with an attacking pressure defense that helped force five Keystone turnovers in the fourth quarter and 16 in the game.
TiJon Faulk-Taylor gave the Bobcats a boost off the bench hitting a 3-pointer to cut the Keystone lead to 46-41 with 2:22 to play and then cutting the lead to 47-45 on a steal and a basket when he played give-and-go with Craig with 1:35 left.
“We have to talk a lot about ball security,” Health said. “We had some key turnovers night. It’s a matter of ball security and guys moving and running through the pass and just being strong with the ball. That is a lot of what we will work on, probably. And we just have to always expect pressure.”
Keystone also left the door open to Clarion by going 2 of 7 from the free-throw line from the 5:25 mark of the fourth quarter on including a pair of misses by Rapp with 56.1 seconds left and the Panthers up two.
It was after those misses that Josh Craig hit his go-ahead 3-pointer, the second night in a row he hit a go-ahead shot in the waning seconds only to watch the other team answer.
Jones joined LaVan with a team-high 12 points for Keystone, while Austin Hummell had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds for Clarion.
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