By Pete Chiodo
January 12, 2013 7:00 a.m. LINESVILLE —
With Conneaut’s leading scorer, Noah Uplinger, in a mess of foul trouble early, the Eagles needed somebody else to step up.
They instead got three somebody elses as Tyler Bartlett, Sid Smith and Danny Holcomb each rose to the occasion in the Eagles’ 60-42 win over Cambridge Springs in a Region 3 tilt held Friday.
“I thought we played well as a team,” said Smith, the Eagles’ senior shooting guard. “We executed and we never put our heads down.”
Bartlett led the way with 15 points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Smith scored 14 points. And Holcomb had 11 points and six assists.
The Eagles also got solid contributions from Uplinger, who eventually posted eight points in the second half; Stephen Martini, who finished the night with six points and six rebounds; and Mark Braden, who chipped in with five points.
“It was a region win, that was the important part,” said Conneaut head coach Bob Leupold. “We’re 4-0 (in Region 3). We have Maplewood (today) and hopefully that sets us up for a big game against Saegertown on Friday.”
With the victory, Conneaut (8-5, 4-0 Region 3) moves into first place in the local loop, a half-game ahead of Saegertown (6-4, 3-0), which visits the Eagles on Jan. 18.
Cambridge Springs, meanwhile, slips to 2-9 overall and 1-3 in Region 3.
“We exerted a lot of energy (on Friday night),” said Blue Devils coach Kevin Kurt. “We played a tough three quarters. We were only down eight points going into the fourth, and that was right off (Conneaut) scoring that 3-pointer right as the third quarter ended. If we could have gotten that stop, we would only have been down five and maybe we could have hung with them more in the fourth quarter.
“But give Conneaut the credit. They played well and they made the plays when they needed to.”
Conneaut put on the full-court press right out of the gate. And that netted the Eagles a 16-5 game-opening run. Braden had five points in the first quarter. Bartlett and Holcomb each had four.
However, Cambridge Springs answered with nine unanswered points to cut Conneaut’s lead to 16-14 two minutes into the second period. Marcus Palmero started to get hot, scoring seven of those nine markers for the Blue Devils.
He would end up leading Cambridge with a game-best 22 points, draining four treys and grabbing five rebounds. Austin Porter added nine points and nine boards.
Yet, Conneaut was right back with a six-point run, making it 22-14. They would maintain that edge for the rest of the half and for most of the third quarter.
In the final two minutes of the third, though, Palmero knocked down a long-range jumper and Porter scored off a Conneaut turnover to trim the Eagles’ lead to 37-32.
Then as the last second was ticking off the clock in the third, Smith pulled up for the aforementioned trey which took away whatever wind had built up in the Spa’s sails.
“That was big,” said Leupold. “That got us the momentum back. And we came out in the fourth and made a nice run.”
Conneaut put the press back on in the fourth. That slowed down the Cambridge offense. And when the Devils did get some opportunities to score at the foul line, they passed it up, starting the period 0-for-5 at the stripe.
“We had a lot of opportunities that we missed,” said Kurt. “We’ve got to get better at the foul line. That’s been a problem for us all year.”
The Eagles outscored the Devils 13-5 over the opening half of the quarter, taking a big enough lead (53-37) to coast to the final buzzer.
Martini, Bartlett and Uplinger each scored six points in the fourth, which was won by Conneaut 20-10.