Weekly Feature

2018-02-07 / Sports

Clutch shooting late propels boys hoops past Jamestown


Clarence’s boys basketball team came up with big shot after big shot when it needed them the most Jan. 30, which helped the Red Devils withstand the long-range barrage provided by Matt Hill, whose nine three-point baskets for the game kept Jamestown in the game long enough to only make Clarence’s 69-65 victory sting that much worse.

“That was a big win for us, since it’s not too often we beat Jamestown,” coach 
River Reinhardt fights his way through contact while taking the ball to the basket during Clarence’s 69-65 overtime loss to Lancaster Friday. Reinhardt led the way for the Red Devils with a team-high 17 points. 
Photo by Jim SmerecakPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com River Reinhardt fights his way through contact while taking the ball to the basket during Clarence’s 69-65 overtime loss to Lancaster Friday. Reinhardt led the way for the Red Devils with a team-high 17 points. Photo by Jim SmerecakPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Doug Ratka said. “We’re trying to get into the top four for sectionals, and with us in fifth place and Jamestown right ahead of us, that was a big swing for us to beat them. Plus, it gave us some nice confidence to get a good league win over a perennially strong program.”

Jamestown, which took an early eight-point lead, didn’t really seem to have any answers for Clarence after closing out the first quarter with an 18-17 lead. From the midpoint of the first quarter through the end of the first half, the Red Devils actually outscored the Red Raiders by a 28-11 margin, which helped Clarence enter the break with a 36-27 lead.

Opening the third quarter with three-point basket only further bolstered Clarence’s confidence, as the Red Devils did a better job this time around of keeping Jamestown’s post players off the boards to limit the Red Raiders’ second-chance opportunities. Jamestown, which began the final stanza trailing by a 51-44 count, did manage to pull within a point in the fourth quarter, but the Red Devils made their free throws down the stretch – Clarence, which was 15-of-16 from the stripe for the game, got a boost from River Reinhardt’s 7-of-7 showing in the fourth – to hold off Jamestown’s challenge.

“We were tougher with them at our place than we were at theirs,” Ratka said. “Our guards did a good job of trying to limit their entry passes into the post. And offensively, we just operated very efficiently. We just kept our foot on the pedal and they had a hard time stopping us when we had the ball. We were able to turn some stops on the defensive end into some fast-break buckets, which helped too.”

Clarence, which finished the game 54 percent from the field, was led by Reinhardt’s 26 points, six rebounds and four assists. Steve Kabayiza, whom Ratka said “probably had his best game of the year,” added 16 points and five assists, while Jack Putney finished with 10 points. Joe Olivieri contributed nine points and nine rebounds, while Phil Simkin scored eight big points in the paint off the bench for Clarence.

The Red Devils weren’t as fortunate two days later against Lancaster, however, as a back and forth game that ultimately needed extra time to decide eventually went to the Legends, 69-62. Lancaster made the Red Devils pay for sending it to the line, going 20-of-22 for the game from the charity stripe – with a bunch of those makes coming in the extra session.

“We were right there competing for the win down the stretch, which made it tough to swallow,” Ratka said. “They did a good job of limiting us to just one shot per possession. That’s two close, tough losses that we’ve endured against them this season.”

Clarence had to rally at the end of both halves to knot the score after falling behind in the first and third quarters. Lancaster’s earlier lead was the more impressive of the two, as the Legends closed out the first quarter with an 18-10 advantage that the Red Devils erased with an 18-10 run of their own in the second quarter to send the game into the break knotted at 28-28. Clarence actually found itself trailing by nine in the third quarter before closing the gap to three, 43-40, by the end of the frame.

Lancaster created some distance early in the fourth quarter as well, leading by as many as eight with two minutes to play in regulation before some timely stops led to even timelier baskets by the Red Devils that left the score tied at 57-57 at the end of regulation.

“We just couldn’t get a stop in the first quarter, but we came up big in the fourth quarter,” Ratka said. “We just didn’t have enough left when we got to overtime.”

Reinhardt led the way for Clarence with 17 points, while Olivieri added 13 points and seven rebounds. Brandon Ferris chipped in with 11 points for the Red Devils (8-7, 4-5 ECIC I), who kicked off their final stretch of three league games Tuesday at Williamsville North. Information about that contest was not available at press time, however.

The Red Devils close out their week Friday by hosting Frontier in this year’s Senior Night game, and then wrap up the regular season with three games in five days next week. That stretch begins Monday at non-league foe Lackawanna.

“The North game is going to be big in terms of the sectional standings, since they’re one of the teams we’re competing with for a home playoff game – and I’m sure they’ll be ready for us after we beat them earlier this year at our place,” Ratka said. “No matter who we play, we’ve just got to play with intensity for 32 minutes. In all of our losses this season, we’re in the game – but we’re fighting back for a large part of it. It takes a lot of energy to battle back from 10-point deficits, so it we can get some stops and be tougher to score on, it’ll pick everyone up.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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