KNOX — The DuBois boys basketball team opened its season in thrilling fashion Friday at the Keystone Tip-off Tournament, as sophomore Chase Husted scored a wide-open layup with just over a second remaining to give the Beavers a 58-57 victory over Clarion.
The game was far from a perfect one for either team, as they combined for nearly 60 turnovers in a game that saw the biggest lead be eight points by the Beavers at 51-43 with 4:31 left to play. However, those turnovers helped spark a 10-1 run by the Bobcats that saw them go back on top, 53-52, with 1:33 remaining.
Bobcat Austin Hummell, who scored a game-high 28 points, had eight points during that late-game run and capped it by scoring on an offensive rebound off a miss by Cam Craig on a fast break following a missed free throw.
The teams traded the lead five time from there in the final 1:30.
A basket by Husted and two free throws by senior Kenny Garvey gave the Beavers leads of 54-53, and 56-55, respectively.
However, it appeared Clarion sophomore Josh Craig had given his team the lead for good when he scored his lone points of the game on a strong drive to the basket with less than 10 seconds to go.
DuBois rushed the ball up the court, and head coach Scott Creighton called a timeout after the ball crossed half court with 4.9 seconds left on the clock. He and his staff then drew up one last play — which proved to be the game-winner.
The ball went to junior Jonathan Cruz in the right corner on the inbounds play, and Cruz looked to make a pass to Garvey on the wing but the defense jumped out on the Beaver. Cruz saw that movement and promptly dumped a pass down low to a wide-open Husted in the post, and the sophomore calmly spun around and scored the game-winning shot.
The final second ran off the clock before Clarion could really inbound the ball, sending the DuBois faithful into a frenzy.
The last-second shot capped a very successful varsity debut for Husted, who posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Junior teammate Justin Manduley, making his first varsity start, scored a team-high 20 points, while Garvey added 10 points.
That trio, who combined for 46 points, helped the Beavers overcome 32 turnovers to pull out the victory and reach Saturday night’s championship game against St. Marys — a 51-44 winner over host Keystone. A year ago, it was Clarion that won in a lopsided season-opener, 67-46, between the two in Knox before falling to the Dutchmen by a basket (58-56) in the finals. Results from Saturday’s title game were not available as of press time.
“We’ll definitely take the win,” said Creighton. “I think the first-game jitters may have bene there, and we’re really not that experiened of a team. Other than Garvey and (Alex) Beers, we didn’t really have a whole lot of (varsity) experience coming back. And, I’m just very proud of the guys we were able to stick through it. The way we look at it, it’s a lot easier to learn from your mistakes after a win like that. It’s easier to take constructive criticism when we’re coming off that and not a loss.
“We were pretty excited in the locker room, but at the same time, I didn’t even have to say it. They (kids) said it. We have a lot of work to do, and I said you’re right guys. They get it.”
Creighton also had high praise for the trio of Maduley, Husted and Garvey.
“They all played solid, especially when we needed them to down the stretch,” he added. “We executed at the end, and Cruz made a great pass to Chase diving to the hoop. We had a feeling that might happen and it ended up working out for us.
“I credit all the guys for sticking with it, because for as many turnovers as we had tonight, we easily could have thrown in the towel.”
Both teams struggled to find a rhythm to open the game, as neither side scored in the opening three minutes. Manduley finally found the scorebook just past the 5-minute mark, and Clarion’s Zak Bauer answered right back to even things at 2-2.
DuBois then went on an 8-4 spurt over the final four minutes to lead 10-6 after one quarter. Manduley and Garvey each had four points in the opening eight minutes, while Shadi Hassan scored late in the quarter.
Clarion put together a spurt of its own to open the second quarter, using a 7-2 run to take a 13-12 lead 3:04 in. Back-to-back baskets by Husted put DuBois on top and sparked a 10-4 closing stretch that saw the Beavers take a four-point lead (22-18) in the halftime. Husted and Manduley each had a half dozen points to account for of DuBois scoring in the second quarter.
A basket by Husted in the opening minute of the third quarter pushed DuBois’ lead to six at 24-18, but turnovers again began to plague the Beavers. And, Clarion took advantage, ripping off a 12-2 run to grab a 30-26 advantage near the midway point of the quarter. Hummell scored 10 of those 12 points.
A 3-pointer by Cruz just past the 4-minute mark helped calm thing down for the Beavers, but Clarion was still able to maintain a four-point lead (35-31) going into the final two minutes of third. That’s when DuBois rattled off seven straight points to regain the lead late in the quarter at 38-35. Junior Alex Beers jump-started that spurt with a 3-pointer, while Justin Swauger and Manduley added hoops. Beers had five points on the night.
Clarion’s TiJon Faulk-Taylor hit two free throws with 16 seconds on the clock to send the game to the fourth with DuBois up a point at 38-37.
And, it was the Bobcats who got off to a fast start in the fourth, with Hummell scored twice in the opening minute to give the Bobcats a 41-38 lead. DuBois countered with a 13-2 run to build its largest lead of the game at 51-43. Husted started that run when he scored on a putback and Manduley finished it with 11 straight points for the Beavers — draining a three with 4:31 remaining to make it 51-43. Garvey had two nice assists to Manduley during the run.
The Bobcats weren’t finished though, as Hummell sparked the 10-1 spurt that regained the lead for Clarion at 53-52 with 1:33 left.
That set the stage for the thrilling back-and-forth finish that saw Husted eventually give DuBois the one-point victory.
The Beavers are back in action Monday at home against Cambria Heights, while the Bobcats host Clarion-Limestone Tuesday.