Season Preview: Bison Hope To Offset Lack of Height With New-Look Offense, Pressure Defense

HYDE — Ball security, improved shooting and tough defense will be paramount for the 2012-13 Clearfield Area High School boys basketball team to achieve success in and out of the competitive Mountain League this winter.

Coach Forrest Campman is banking on a trio of lettermen to show the way for his 13th Bison squad that will rely on overall athleticism to counter what will be a challenge under the boards because of a lack of height.

Senior guards Trey Jordan and Seth Beardsley and junior forward Christian Lezzer are the veterans from the 2011-12 team that struggled after a 4-2 start and wound up 8-15, including a 4-4 record in the Mountain League Allegheny Division.

Lezzer, a two-year letterwinner, was the No. 2 scorer and just missed averaging double figures with 218 points in 22 games.

Jordan, who was selected for the All-Mountain League Allegheny Division second team, was third with 174 points, an 8.3 average, and grabbed 60 rebounds in 21 games.

Beardsley checked in with 50 points as the top backcourt reserve. He was one of four Bison to play in all 23 games.

Joining that trio in the seven-player rotation Campman will utilize because of the Bison’s motion offense and aggressive defense will be juniors Jon Janocko, Wyatt Westen, Andy Brown and Seth Ford.

“There’s a battle among some others we hope can gives us a minute or so for some more depth,” noted Campman, who has installed a new offense this season to take advantage of the 6-0 Lezzer’s quickness and strength inside as well as the ability of 6-0 Jordan and 5-11 Beardsley to penetrate from the perimeter.

“We’re running a “four out” instead of the flex, which is going to help us against teams that really want to deny and pressure (the guards) because it allows for back door cuts and penetration,” Campman explained. “We’ll have only one player occupying the low post, and that’s going to be Lezzer.

“The new offense is really good for him. He’s a strong body inside, and he becomes a tough match-up. We can post him up against guys who are similar in size and also pull him out and isolate  him away from the basket a little bit against bigger guys.

“Spreading the floor will allow for dribble penetration for the guys who are good ball handlers. That’s one of our strengths.

“Our weakness is our overall team shooting, so we have to be selective with our outside shots.”

While Campman wants the Bison to attack the basket as much as possible, a preseason practice emphasis has been protecting the ball and maximizing shot attempts for each possession.

“We’ve had major turnover problems the last couple years after going years with about eight or 10 a game,” he said. “When you’re doing that, you’re not getting shots. And you can’t have those bad turnovers, you can’t play defense off of them because they lead to easy baskets for the other team.”

With Janocko the tallest Bison at 6-2, the lack of overall height must be overcome under the boards, especially on defense with the Bison’s match-up zones.

“That’s one of our concerns, and we’re gonna have to be a really up-tempo defense or our size will be a real disadvantage,” Campman said, adding that the Bison did fare well rebounding against a taller DuBois Central Catholic team in a recent scrimmage. ”More often than not, we’re going to be a pressing and double-teaming type of defense to create turnovers.

“We have to rely on defense to stay with opponents. And just be scrappy.”

Clearfield will open at home against Curwensville in a non-league game moved to Monday because of the PIAA Class AAA football semifinal between Erie Prep and Bishop McDevitt that is being played at the Bison Sports Complex Friday night.

However, that is one of only two of December’s seven games, including four league tests, that the Bison will play in Weiss Gym.

For the second season in a row, the make-up of the Mountain League has changed. Central Mountain and Juniata exited, so the two-division set-up was axed. The remaining eight teams will play each other twice for a 14-game schedule.

Rounding out the Bison slate will be home-and home dates with Curwensville, which returns after a two-year absence, as well as single games against District9 rivals DuBois, Punxsutawney, Brookville and St. Marys and two games in the Purchase Line Lions Club Holiday Tournament.

Joining Campman on the Bison coaching staff are Matt Wassil, varsity assistant; Erik Durancik, junior varsity coach, and Joe Davis and Tom Janocko, volunteer assistants.

The three senior starters last season were center Robbie Myers, who led the Bison in scoring with 346 points (15.0 ppg) and rebounds with 192, point guard Curtis Frye (4.3 ppg) and forward Beau Swales (1.8 ppg).

Myers made the All-Mountain League Allegheny Division First Team after being a second team selection as a junior.

The roster, with (*) denoting letterwinners:
 
Seniors – Seth Beardsley (*), 5-11; Kenton Climie, 5-8; Trey Jordan (*), 6-0; Matt Josephson, 6-0.
 
Juniors – Andy Brown, 6-1; Frank Butler, 5-11; Seth Ford, 5-9; Luke Godissart, 5-11; Derek Hryn, 6-0; Jon Janocko (*), 6-2; Devin Jones, 6-1; Christian Lezzer (*), 6-0; Josh Neeper, 5-10; Kaleb Taylor, 5-10; Wyatt Westen, 6-0.

Sophomores – C.J. Gathagan, 6-0; Spencer Herrington, 5-11; Jake Lansberry 5-9; Jesus Rosa, 5-7; Erik Sellers, 6-0.

* * * * *

The schedule, with (ML) designating Mountain League games and tip-offs at 7:30 p.m. unless noted:

December

10 – CURWENSVILLE; 12 – at Central (ML); 14 – HUNTINGDON (ML); 18 – at Bald Eagle Area (ML); 21 – at Bellefonte (ML); 27 – Harmony in Purchase Line Lions Club Holiday Tournament, 6 p.m.;  28 –Bald Eagle Area or Purchase Line in Purchase Line Lions Club Holiday Tournament, TBA.

January

4 – PUNXSUTAWNEY; 7 – BROOKVILLE; 8 – TYRONE (ML); 11 – at Penns Valley (ML); 15 – PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (ML); 18 – at St. Marys; 21 – at DuBois; 23 – CENTRAL (ML); 25 – at Huntingdon (ML), 7:15 p.m.; BALD EAGLE AREA (MD).
 
February

1 – BELLEFONTE (ML); 6 – at Tyrone (ML); 8 – PENNS VALLEY (ML); 11 – at Curwensville; 12 – at PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (ML).

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