CLARION — When things aren’t going well, sometimes you need to go back to what made you successful in the first place.
Clarion-Limestone did just that in snapping a two-game losing streak by using their strong inside presence in Dan Callen to post a 64-45 victory over Clarion Area in the quarterfinal round of the District 9 AA playoffs Wednesday evening at Clarion University.
When the Lions were most successful this season, they pounded the ball inside to Callen. When they weren’t successful with their inside game they had a tendency to shoot a lot of 3-pointers.
Callen came up big as he scored 23 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked eight shots Wednesday against the Bobcats. Ian Callen added 13 points while dishing out five assists, Sam Leadbetter added 12 points and Christian Smith chipped in eight points. Julian Laugand also handed out five assists.
“Our key tonight was to not shoot so many threes and to try and pound the ball inside,” said C-L head coach Joe Ferguson. “It wasn’t just Dan inside, but we had a lot of guys contribute.
“We talk about that a lot in that we need to have other guys out there supporting and tonight that really showed and it also opened things up for Dan more.”
Cam Craig led Clarion with 14 points while also grabbing seven rebounds. Reed Anthony added nine points and Ty Burford scored eight points with nine rebounds.
“We charted the shots that C-L took at halftime, and they only took one shot from outside of the paint,” said Clarion head coach Jess Quinn. “So, that was obviously their game plan to use their height advantage with Dan (Callen), Ian (Callen), and Christian (Smith).
“They all have an advantage in size over our guys and they took advantage of that for sure.”
Things were fairly even early on in the contest at C-L led 8-7 before a quarter ending 8-2 run pushed their lead to 16-9 after one quarter.
Clarion cut the lead to five early on in the second at 16-11. However, the Lions would respond and push their lead up to 14 at 28-14 before the Bobcats would score the final five points of the half to trail 28-19 at the break.
“It’s always important to get out to a lead in any game,” said Ferguson. “Especially when you face a Clarion team that is very good. It was still a battle pretty much the whole game.”
Clarion-Limestone would once again build their lead to as high as 15 at 40-25 before the Bobcats fought back to close to within 11 by the end of the third with a 6-2 run to cut the Lions lead to 42-31 after three.
Callen scored eight of the Lions 14 points in the third.
The Lions began to pull away in the fourth. Clarion trailed by 12 at 52-40 before the Lions finished the contest on a 12-5 run to set the final score.
Clarion made just 2-of-12 shots from beyond the three-point line while C-L only attempted one three all evening which was a stark contrast to their game against Keystone where the Lions attempted 15 three’s missing all 15 in the loss.
Clarion-Limestone, the fourth seed, moves on to battle top-seeded Coudersport at a date, time and site to be determined.
We know Coudersport is the best team we’ll have seen all season,” said Ferguson. “One thing is we will have about a week to prepare and try and come up with some sort of a game plan.”