Cranberry Holds off Redbank Valley in Boys’ Basketball
NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (D9SPORTS) – Four times in the last five minutes Cranberry watched Redbank Valley get within a point, and four times the Berries had the answer on their way to a 57-48 win over the home team Friday night.
“There were a number of times there where the guys could have folded and things could have gone south,” Cranberry head coach Patrick Irwin said. “We were able to get some key buckets whenever they made their runs, and we were able to keep our composure and win the game.”
Cranberry (9-4 overall, 7-2 KSAC North) led by seven, 43-36, following a basket by Brendan Zerbe with 6:23 to play only to watch Redbank Valley get back-to-back 3-pointers from Kaleb Reed and Sam Heeter to cut the lead to one, 43-42, with 4:48 to play.
Evan Lutz, who finished with a game-high 21 points to go with nine rebounds and three steals, restored the lead to three with a layup at the 3:37 mark before a Dalton Dougherty layup once again got the Bulldogs (6-8, 5-4 KSAC South) to within a point, 47-46, with three minutes to play.
Again, Cranberry answered, this time on a calen McCandless layup off an Austin Rex pass with 2:42 to go to make it 49-46.
Dougherty, who had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds to go with three blocked shots, answered again for Redbank to cut the deficit to 49-48 with 1:39 to play.
But that was as close as the Bulldogs got.
Lutz was fouled with 1:11 left and hit both free throws starting a stretch that saw him hit 5 of 6 charity shots in the final minute plus, and Rex scored a layup off of a McCandless pass right out of a timeout with 46 seconds to play to make it a five-point game, 53-48.
“We played hard and had to dig deep,” Lutz said. “It’s a huge win. Obviously, last year we lost (to Redbank Valley) in the (District 9 Class AA) championship game. So we wanted to get this win. I think we can get a lot of momentum from it.”
The victory puts the Berries two wins away from qualifying for the postseason – although District 9 has an open playoff system, Cranberry requires its team to be at least .500 to gain entry.
“They big thing I’m preaching to my guys is getting to the playoffs first,” Irwin said. “We still need two more wins to get there. We’re going to count down to that. Then, we will worry about seeing when that comes. But any win is a good win. It’s going to be a pretty competitive AA field.”
Redbank Valley held the lead throughout most of the first quarter and into the second quarter and was up 22-13 two minutes into the second quarter.
But Cranberry switched up to a 3-2 zone defense and used that defense to spearhead a half-ending 16-2 run to take a 29-24 lead into the locker room.
“We were just trying to give them a different look, maybe one they don’t have an offensive against,” Lutz said. “They looked confused, and we capitalized on it.”
Cranberry was able to capitalize on Redbank Valley turnovers in the first half turning nine Bulldogs’ giveaways into 15 points in the opening 16 minutes.
“We’ve got guys who run the floor fairly well,” Irwin said. “We were able to push the ball and for the most part make some good decisions. We were fairly smart with the ball in those transition opportunities.”
Both teams are back in action Tuesday with Cranberry hosting Union and Redbank Valley traveling to North Clarion.
Story by Chris Rossetti
CRANBERRY 57, REDBANK VALLEY 48
Score by Quarter
Cranberry 13 16 10 18 – 57
Redbank 18 6 10 14 – 48
CRANBERRY – 57
Nick Varsek 1 1-2 3, Dechlyn Sheffer 1 1-4 4, Evan Lutz 6 8-10 21, Austin Rex 5 2-5 12, Brendan Zerbe 4 0-4 8, Tylor Ziegler 1 0-0 2, Caleb McCandless 3 1-1 8. Totals 21 13-26 57.
REDBANK VALLEY – 48
Grayson Harmon 1 1-2 3, Sam Heeter 4 5-6 14, Greg Nolf 2 0-3 4, Kaleb Reed 5 0-0 12, Dalton Dougherty 5 2-3 13, Brock Barrett 0 0-0 0, Bracket Scott 1 0-0 2, Riley Campbell 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 8-14 48.
THREE-POINTERS – Cranberry 2 (Sheffer, Lutz). Redbank Valley 4 (Reed 2, Dougherty, Heeter).
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