LORAIN – After two losses, John Szalay made practices tough on his young Clearview basketball team this week.
He wanted to get a message across.
Then the Clippers took to the court against Brooklyn in their first Patriot Athletic Conference game and nearly blew a nine-point lead in the final minute before securing a 67-65 victory Tuesday night.
It went right down to the end but Szalay got a positive response.
Poor free throw shooting in the final 48 seconds – missing the first of three one-and-ones – could`ve spoiled a stellar effort, especially from sophomores Tony Williams and Kyle Baughman.
But John Celestino sank two crucial foul shots with 9.6 seconds remaining, giving the host team a four-point lead that virtually iced the game.
“I got on them this week,” said Szalay, who watched his team turn the ball over 29 times against Avon last week. “We had a week and I really worked them hard to prepare. The kids responded. If we`d made some of those free throws in the fourth quarter, we would`ve had an 8-10-point lead, but we didn`t and that`s a learning experience.”
Clearview was 8-for-19 at the free throw line and was battered 40-25 on the boards. The Clippers got only four offensive rebounds, none in the second half, while the Hurricanes had 18 offensive rebounds, turning them into 17 points.
But sharp shooting, especially from 3-point range, and defensive pressure saved the Clippers. Clearview sank 51 percent from the floor and was 9-of-17 from behind the arc, led by Williams who made 4-of-5. He sank 8 of 9 shots, scored 22 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Baughman came off the bench to score 14, including a crucial 3-pointer with 1:07 left that gave the home team a 65-56 lead. Then the Clippers missed three one-and-ones consecutively and Brooklyn (0-4) scrambled back into contention with two free throws and a 3-pointer by Jose Plaud and a driving shot by Brian Dubber to cut the lead to 65-63.
Then Celestino finished things off with his free throws. Brooklyn scored with three seconds left, but Clearview wisely held the ball as time expired, bringing a protest from Brooklyn coach Jeff Shepherd.
“I thought there was more time on the clock,” Shepherd said. “We wanted them to inbound the ball so we could foul. I was just trying to win a game. I blew it out of proportion.”
Brooklyn`s game Friday against Oberlin will be its first at home this year. Life on the road has been tough.
“We played hard in the fourth quarter,” Shepherd said. “Mentally we weren`t there in the first three quarters. We were throwing the ball away. We`ve got to start playing when the game is closer.”
Clearview outscored the visitors in the first three quarters and had a 53-39 led with 49 seconds left in the third period before Matt Korber closed it out with a 3-pointer for Brooklyn.
The Clippers still had an 11-point lead three minutes into the final period, but the Hurricanes scored on seven of their last 10 possessions to make it close.
It was a big win for the Clippers.
“We took care of the basketball a little bit better,” Szalay said. “They listened and did some things better. But we`ve got Lutheran West coming in here Friday so we won`t be able to enjoy it for long.”
BROOKLYN (65): Omar Ali 0-0-0, Jose Plaud 7-2-17, John Hitterman 5-0-11, Brian Dubber 7-3-19, Matt Korber 3-0-9, Nick Ghann 4-0-9, Nick Gentile 0-0-0, Jon Blanco 0-0-0, Kevin Lachowski 0-0-0. Totals 26-5-65.
CLEARVIEW (67): Tony Williams 8-2-22, Anthony Henson 0-0-0, James Washington 2-2-6, John Celestrino 3-3-10, Ricki Perkins 3-0-6, Antwaun Carlton 0-0-0, Anthony Hitchens 1-1-3, John Rosser 0-0-0,l Lucas Wright 1-0-2, Michael Mealing 2-0-4, Kyle Baughman 5-1-14. Totals 25-8-67.
Brooklyn 11 15 16 23 – 65
Clearview 15 17 21 14 – 67
Three-point goals: Brooklyn (8-18) Plaud, Hitterman, Dubber 2, Korber 3, Ghann, Clearview (9-17) Williams 4, Celestino 2, Baughman 3;; Rebounding: Brooklyn 40 (Dubber, Hitterman 11), Clearview 25 (Baughman 6); Turnovers: Brooklyn 17, Clearview 15; Fouls: Brooklyn 15, Clearview 13; Fouled Out: None; Field Goal Shooting: Brooklyn 26 of 59 (44 percent), Clearview 25 of 49 (51 percent); Free Throw Shooing: Brooklyn 5 of 12 (42 percent), Clearview 8 of 19 (42 percent).
JV: Clearview, 57-37