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The Elk County Catholic Crusaders defeated the Sheffield Wolverines 63-57 last night in a game played at ECCHS.
Sheffield led for the first half of the contest, holding a 8-6 advantage at the end of the first period and a 17-15 lead at halftime. ECC came to life in the second half, taking a 36-29 lead at the end of the third quarter and then holding on for the 63-57 victory.
"It was a good win," said ECC coach Aaron Straub. "Any time you can give up 28 points in the fourth quarter and still win has got to be a good one."
Regarding the team's slow start, Straub remarked that they "just had difficulty finding some offense."
"Then we made some free throws in the fourth quarter and made a couple shots in the third quarter and that seemed to get us going a little bit," Straub said. "I'm happy with the win, but disappointed with that little, slow offensive performance in the first half."
He also noted that Sheffield is a good team and brought an 8-3 record into the contest.
"They're putting five starters on the floor that started last year for them, so they're coming in with a lot of experience. They had depth. Their top seven are as good as anybody's," Straub said.
Moving forward, he explained that the Crusaders need to "clean up a couple of the turnovers down the the stretch, guard a little bit better down the stretch, and get off to a little better start."
Offensively, Elk Catholic was led by junior Clayton Housler with 18 points on three twos, two threes, and a 6-for-8 night from the foul line. Ben Wortman and Brock McCullough also added 12 points each to the Crusaders' total. Wortman had five twos and a 2-for-3 night from the line, while McCullough had five twos and a 2-for-4 night from the line.
The Wolverines were led by senior Mark Sprandle with 15 points on two twos, three threes, and a 2-for-2 night from the foul line.
Sheffield got on the board first after a bucket by Isaac Nearing. Wortman then added a foul shot for the Crusaders and then, in a move rarely seen at ECC, dunked the ball to give Elk Catholic the 3-2 lead. The teams continued to trade the lead back and forth throughout the quarter with the score knotted at 6-all with just over a minute remaining in the period. Sheffield's George Fitch hit a two with about 30 seconds left to send the Wolverines ahead 8-6 headed into the second quarter.
Elk Catholic recorded the first seven points of the second quarter on buckets by Housler and Wortman and then a three by Housler, giving the Crusaders a 13-8 advantage. The teams then traded buckets before Sheffield racked up seven unanswered points to end the half ahead 17-15.
The teams started off the second half by trading foul shots. Sheffield then added to their lead with buckets by Nick Bonavita and Sprandle. Housler made his second three of the night with just under five minutes left in the period to keep the score close; however, Sprandle added a three of his own to make the score 26-20 with 4:35 left in the quarter. Elk Catholic then put up six points on a bucket and a pair of foul shots by McCullough and another bucket by Wortman. The teams continued to battle back and forth and were tied again at 29-all with two minutes remaining in the quarter. Elk Catholic then took the lead for good on a bucket by McCullough, a three by Devin Constable and a bucket by Hank Cappiello to head into the final period of play with the 36-29 lead.
In the fourth quarter the Wolverines put up a good fight but were unable to draw any closer than within four points of the lead. They did this with just over six minutes to play when Sprandle and Fitch hit back-to-back buckets to cut the Crusaders' advantage to 41-37. Elk Catholic would go on to take a 12-point advantage over Sheffield when foul shots by Housler put the Crusaders up 56-44 with 1:23 left to play. The Crusaders were able to put the game away with foul shots. After being only 2-for-7 from the line in the first half, they were 14-for-19 in the second half, which allowed them to hold on to the lead as the Wolverines made three threes and two buckets in the final 1:16 of the game.
The Crusaders are now 5-3 overall on the season and 2-1 in the North Division of the Allegheny Mountain League. Elk Catholic will return to action tonight when they play host to the Ridgway Elkers. Junior varsity will get underway at 6 p.m. while the varsity game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at ECCHS.
Isaac Nearing 4-0-1-2-9, Mark Sprandle 2-3-2-2-15, Brendan Winslow 0-1-0-0-3, Kalil Slaughter 1-0-2-5-4, Dylan McNeal 1-0-0-0-2, Nick Bonavita 2-1-1-2-8, Josh Anderson 2-0-0-0-8, Tyler Fitzgerald 5-0-2-4-12. Totals 17-5-8-15-57.
Clayton Housler 3-2-6-8-18, Kevin Kraus 0-0-0-0-0, Mitchell Vallone 0-0-0-0-0, Brandon Schlimm 0-0-0-0-0, Ben Wortman 5-0-2-3-12, Brock McCullough 5-0-2-4-12, Alex Herzing 0-0-0-0-0, Hank Cappiello 1-0-8-9-10, Michael Jacob 0-0-2-2-2, Ben Cortina 0-0-0-0-0, Devin Constable 0-3-0-0-9. Totals 14-5-20-26-63.
Score by quarters
Sheffield 8 9 12 28 57
ECCHS 6 9 21 27 63
The Elk Catholic junior varsity squad picked up a 47-37 victory in the preliminary contest.
The Crusaders took a 19-14 first-period lead and then outscored Sheffield 12-7 in the second quarter to take a 31-21 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, ECC added 11 more points while holding Sheffield to 9. The Wolverines came back to outscore the Crusaders 7-5 in the fourth quarter; however, ECC still took the 47-37 win.
ECC scoring: Vincent Jacob 7, Colton Lecker 11, Ivan Wortman 9, Luke Kraus 5, Ben Reuscher 2, Andy Gebauer 4, Corey Huff 9.
Sheffield scoring: Nic Confer 4, Brendan Winslow 20, Noah Heeter 3, Dylan McNeal 8, Tyler Fitzgerald 2.