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Shooting touch abandons Wildcats in semifinal loss

Shooting touch abandons Wildcats in semifinal loss

January 17th, 2011 in News

Stephanie Backus/FULTON SUN photo: New Bloomfield sophomore guard Justice Richards finds himself double-teamed in the second quarter of the Wildcats' 55-24 loss to New Haven on Friday night in the semifinals of the South Callaway Tournament.

It would have been pointless for New Bloomfield head coach Tyler Clark to make much of a fuss over a foul-shooting disparity between his Wildcats and their opponents, the New Haven Shamrocks, in the semifinals of the South Callaway Tournament on Friday night.

At least that's how Clark felt about it.

"I don't try to focus on things I can't control," Clark said. "I'm not going to let the emotions of the game dictate things."

It's a rational approach and, given the outcome, probably the correct one as well. Because while some sequences of New Bloomfield's play could have caused Clark to blow a few gaskets, it would have helped if the Wildcats had scored more baskets.

In the end, No. 4 seed New Bloomfield shot a sparse 19 percent in falling to top-seeded New Haven 55-24.

Making shots was the one thing Clark's team could control on the court and it didn't happen Friday night. New Bloomfield (5-7) came into the game shooting 42 percent as a team, with its worst single-game effort being 32 percent.

That would have been preferable for the Wildcats, who knocked down just 8-of-43 shots in the contest. And none of those came in a span of 16 minutes, 12 seconds that ultimately proved to be the big difference.

After Wildcats senior guard Aaron Bedsworth converted a jump shot with 1:31 left in the first quarter to cut the New Haven lead to 7-6, the New Bloomfield offense stopped. The Wildcats didn't hit another field goal until junior guard Cameron Baker knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:19 left in the third quarter.

Between those two makes, New Haven went on a 27-2 run.

"In a basketball season you face adversity and there's going to be times when you make shots and you don't, and other teams will come back and execute better than you do and there's nothing you can really do about it but get better," Clark said. "Unfortunately we did have some droughts and there's not a magic wand I can wave to make them start hitting shots."

That's not to say that New Haven (10-1) didn't make shots. That deficit had to grow somehow and the Shamrocks, the No. 8-ranked team in Class 2, widened the gap thanks in large part to two players.

Senior guard Eric Englebrecht poured in a game-high 17 points for New Haven. Junior forward Eli Fleer added 12 points and his seven free-throw attempts equalled the total number New Bloomfield took as a team.

The 6-foot-9 inch Fleer is a natural to block a lot of sunlight on a daily basis and he did much of the same to the Wildcats. He knocked down 6-of-7 free throws and had a hand in much of what New Haven threw New Bloomfield's way in terms of offense.

"When a team is big and can shoot it, it's a tough matchup for us," Clark said. "We tried some zone stuff and they (New Haven) knocked down some shots, and we went to man and struggled as well.

"The game of basketball is pretty tough when you don't knock down shots - and that's a credit to their defense."

The Wildcats got down by 30 points twice in the fourth quarter, leading to a running clock. They did manage to find a bit of rhythm with their shooting in the final period, with Bedsworth producing 10 of his team-high 16 points coming in that span.

New Bloomfield faced No. 3 seed Harrisburg for third place on Saturday. Results were not available at press time.

The Wildcats play at Versailles at 6 p.m. Tuesday.