Boys Playoffs: Owls Take Control Early to End Bisons season in D9 AAA Semis

BRADFORD — Splitting two closely-contested regular season games with Bradford had the Clearfield Area High School boys basketball team optimistic about its chances for advancing to the District 9 Class AAA title game and qualifying for the PIAA Inter-District Playoffs, but Owls\’ outside-inside combination of Tom Morris and Ben Lanich and superior rebounding were too much for the Bisons Tuesday night.
 
Morris, whose hot hand from three-point range got the Owls off to a fast start, scored 19 points and the 6-5 Lanich recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds to almost match the Bisons\’ entire offense in the 58-38 semifinal victory that attracted a near-capacity crowd into the BAHS gym.
 
Dan Vecellio pulled down 10 rebounds as the Owls utilized their height advantage to dominate in the paint. There were very few easy shots for the Bisons, who grabbed only three of their own misses through three quarters and were outrebounded 35-20.
 
\”Any games we\’ve been outrebounded this year we lost, and I know we were outrebounded tonight,\” coach Forrest Campman said after his seventh Clearfield team finished the school\’s best season in eight years with a 15-10 record. \”Even if they didn\’t follow with a second shot off of the rebound, they were able to kick it out and get a good shot and scored on the second possession, probably 10, 12 points.
 
\”They\’re the second most talented team we played this year other than Elk County (Catholic). It wasn\’t a situation where we came out and gave them the game. We played and we scrapped. They just played better than us tonight. They\’re a solid team. I think six out of their 11 losses were by four points or less. It\’s a deceiving record.\”
 
Veteran coach Dave Furhman\’s Owls will carry a 12-11 record into the 9-AAA championship game against St. Marys (15-9) at Clarion University Saturday night, but their ambitious schedule included the likes of State College and Hollidaysburg from District 6, Warren and Mercyhurst Prep from District 10, Latrobe and Highlands from District 7 and two New York teams, Olean and Jamestown.
 
What Campman wanted to see in the early going didn\’t happen for the Bisons. In fact, it was the exact opposite. Bradford bolted into a 15-7 lead as Morris launched three of his five successful treys and Lanich cashed four of six free throws after getting fouled when the Owls worked the ball inside.
 
\”We had to come out of the gate and get the lead early,\” Campman said. \”I thought the game was going to come down to the first four minutes, and it did. At our place, we fell behind 12-0 and made a comeback and won, but it\’s pretty difficult to do on the road.\”
 
After Mike Johnson found Jarrin Campman open under the hoop on a rare Bison fast break to make it 15-9 with 3:18 left in the period, the Owls got two back-breaking steals for layups by sophomore reserve Drew Kelly and went on to open a 22-9 lead at the first rest stop.
 
Campman\’s trey from the left wing ended Clearfield\’s dry spell at six minutes and 36 seconds and Bradford\’s run at 10 points, but the battle was all uphill after that. A pair of three-pointers by point guard John Lhota helped trim the deficit to 12 at 31-19 by halftime.
 
Failure to control Morris and too many missed shots were the keys for the Owls in Clearfield coach Campman\’s view.
 
\”We didn\’t know where Morris was, and he\’s a great shooter,\” he said. \”He\’s going to make \’em more often than not when he\’s open. And we let him get open. Then, I thought we weathered the storm a little bit in the sense we started to settle down and play some decent defense in the second quarter. But we missed a pile of shots. As well as they played at the beginning, I thought the game should have still been about three or four points at halftime. But they\’re up 12.
 
\”Then, you have to come out and answer the bell at the beginning of the third quarter, and we came out and threw some bad passes and missed some shots you have to make. We didn\’t seem to have a good energy level. Once it got up to 20, they\’re going to pull the ball out a little bit.\”
 
Bradford, working the ball in deep to Lanich and Vecellio for point-blank range shots or free throws when fouled, opened a 41-20 gap with 3:38 left in the third quarter and took a 44-25 cushion into the final period. Clearfield\’s lone field goal in the quarter came when Lanich was called for goaltending on Lhota\’s fast-break drive.
 
The Bisons never got closer than 19 points (49-30) in the final eight minutes. The biggest spread was 25 points (57-32 and 58-33).
 
James Zimmerman had 10 points and Lhota added nine for the Bisons. They played their final game for the Red and Black, as did center Mike Johnson, forward Kyle Kline and guard Andrew Janocko.
 
The presence of Lanich and Vecellio in the low post on defense limited Clearfield frontliners Johnson, Kline, Todd Hryn and Drew Hipps to just nine points.
 
\”For some reason, we matched up well with them the first two times and had taken Lanich out of the game,\” Campman said. \”Tonight, he was a major factor on the boards. He was definitely a force inside. It was very hard to get any shots off inside.\”
 
Campman added Vecellio and Ryan LaBrozzi were two other Owls, held in check the first two meetings by the Bisons, who made major contributions.
 
\”If (Vecellio) wasn\’t getting the rebound, he was tipping the rebounds, and (LaBrozzi) was able to get dribble penetration,\” Campman said. \”He was the guy dumping the ball off to Lanich in the paint.
 
\”I can\’t say we lost the game. They won the game. It\’s a situation where, if we did make a mental mistake defensively, they took advantage of it, and they scored every time. If we did execute well on the offensive end, we missed layups (or three-point shots) you\’ve got to make. But I think a lot of it also had to do with the pressure that they had defensively at the beginning. I don\’t know if we got our legs back into the game.\”
 
OVERTIME — Shooting percentages from the field were 45.2 (19-for-42) for Bradford and 24.5 (12-for-49) for Clearfield… Turnover totals were 16 for the Owls and 14 for the Bisons.
 
CLEARFIELD — 38
John Lhota 3 1-3 9, Andrew Janocko 0 0-0 0, Mike Johnson 0 2-5 2, Kyle Kline 1 0-0 2, James Zimmerman 3 2-4 10, Jarrin Campman 2 0-0 5, Todd Hryn 1 1-3 3, Drew Hipps 1 0-0 2, Matt Shiner 0 0-0 0, David Ryan 0 0-0 0, Parker Herrington 0 2-2 2 2, Cruise Kerr 0 1-2 1, Joel Fox 1 0-0 2.  Totals: 12 9-19 38.
 
BRADFORD — 58
Tom Taylor 2 2-5 6, Tom Morris 7 0-0 19, Ryan LaBrozzi 3 3-6 9, Ben Lanich 4 8-12 16, Dan Vecellio 1 1-4 3, Drew Kelly 2 0-0 4, Dave Furhman 0 0-0 0, Tyler Grandy 0 1-2 1, Cory Viola 0 0-0 0, Ian Ivancic 0 0-0 0.  Totals: 19 15-19 38.
 
Three-Point Field Goals: Clearfield 5 (Lhota 2, Zimmerman 2, Campman 1); Bradford 5 (Morris 5).
 
Score by Quarters:
Clearfield    9  10   6  13  —  38
Bradford   22    9  13  14  —  58

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