Offensive woes too much for C-L to overcome
The Lions shot 27-percent from the floor in a 59-39 loss to Cornell in the PIAA Class A second round
By Ryan S. Pugh
CLARION NEWS Sports
Clarion-Limestone boys' basketball head coach Joe Ferguson knew if his team didn't shake off its offensive malaise in the early portion of its PIAA Class A second round matchup with Cornell it would cost the Lions eventually.
Ferguson was proven to be correct.
The Raiders broke open a four-point game at halftime by outscoring the Lions 37-21 over the final two periods on the way to a 59-39 win over C-L at Armstrong High School in Kittanning.
"We just couldn't knock a shot down," Ferguson said. "I think we missed seven or eight layups in that first half."
The Cornell duo of Kaden Divito and Zaier Harrison averaged 26.3 and 15.6 points per game, respectively, through the regular season and the pair didn't disappoint in their second round showdown with the Lions. Divito totaled a game-high 19 points while Harrison bucketed 12 points.
Harrison also had nine rebounds for the Raiders.
Isaiah Langston recorded a double-double for Cornell totaling 14 points and 18 boards. Langston also dished out seven assists and made one block.
The Lions' Hayden Callen kept up his recent torrid scoring streak leading the Lions with 18 points. Hayden Callen scored a game-high 31 points in the Lions' 62-51 upset of District 6 champ Juniata in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
C-L got off to a rousing start against the Raiders thanks to a two-man game action between Ian Callen and Curvin Goheen. Ian Callen was able to find Goheen for a fast break layup after the Lions won the opening tip then whistled a pass to Goheen who was open in a soft spot of the Cornell zone.
The Raiders got back-to-back layups from Harrison and Divito to take a 7-5 lead with 3:56 remaining in the frame.
The Lions worked the ball into the middle to Goheen on their next possession and Goheen fired a pass out to Hayden Callen and Callen drained a 3-pointer to give C-L a 8-7 lead with 3:37 left in the quarter.
It would be the last lead the Lions would enjoy the remainder of the game.
The Raiders answered Hayden Callen's 3-pointer with a 5-0 scoring spurt. Langston rattled home a put back layup while Harrison went 1-for-2 from the line and followed with a drive through the C-L defense for a layup.
Ian Callen connected on a midrange jumper to pull the Lions to within two points heading into the second frame.
Ian Callen finished with 15 points and five rebounds.
Langston opened the second frame with a layup for the Raiders pushing the Cornell lead to 14-10.
Hayden Callen answered with a layup to keep the Lions within two but an 8-2 run by the Raiders pushed the Cornell to a 22-14 lead with 1:28 remaining in the quarter.
Divito had three layups in the span while Langston deposited a layup.
Shooting woes for the Lions led to the Raiders surge. The Lions connected on just 3-of-15 field goals in the period.
C-L shot just 27-percent (15-of-55) from the field for the game.
The Lions' Deion Deas struggled offensively all night. Deas the Lions' leading scorer for the season was held scoreless for the game.
The Lions rallied for four points in the final 1:04 of the half to pull within four at the break.
Ian Callen sank a pair of free throws then made a steal on the ensuing Cornell possession and drove for a layup to make the Raiders lead 22-18 at the half.
Divito opened the third quarter with a layup to extend the Cornell lead to 24-18.
Hayden Callen was fouled on the Lions following possession and he drained both free throws to keep C-L within four.
The Raiders answered by going on a 14-5 run over the next three-plus minutes. The Raiders bucketed four 3-pointers in the run with Jeavontae King-Walden canning two from long distance while Divito and Drew Lopez each drained a 3-point basket.
Langston assisted on all four of the Raiders 3-pointers in the span.
The Cornell 3-point barrage pushed the Raiders to a 40-27 lead heading into the fourth period.
"I knew if we didn't start out decent in the third quarter and knock a couple shots down, it was going to be a problem," Ferguson said. "At that point, it didn't matter what defense we were going throw at (Cornell)."
Ian Callen connected on a layup to open the fourth quarter for the Lions trimming the Raiders' lead to 40-29.
Cornell answered with an 8-0 spurt to take a 48-29 lead with 5:54 left in regulation.
Langston had three layups in the span for the Raiders.
Cornell outscored C-L 11-10 the rest of the way to set the 59-39 final.
"We were just flat tonight," Ferguson said. "With the talent we have, you have to blame the head coach that we didn't do better than we did. It's my responsibility to motivate the kids and I just didn't get it done."
The Raiders move on to face Vincentian Academy in the PIAA Class A quarterfinals at a site and time to be determined.
The Lions finish the year with a 22-4 record.
"We have a great team and I am really proud of the kids," Ferguson said. "It's tough to lose by this big of a spread at this point in the season when you know you are better than that."