Oberlin Phoenix come from behind to stun Clearview Clippers

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE The Clearview Clippers walk off the court following their loss in their game between the Clearview High School Clippers and the Oberlin High School Phoenix at Clearview High School in Lorain, Ohio, on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. Oberlin won 50-48.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE LEFT: Clearview’s Gerrell Williams goes up for a layup during the fourth quarter against Oberlin on Friday. ABOVE: The Clippers walk off the court following their 50-48 loss to the Phoenix in Patriot Athletic Conference action on Friday night.

morning journal/sam greene Clearview’s Gerrell Williams, top, blocks a shot by Oberlin’s Jason Moore during the fourth quarter on Friday night.

mjournal/sam greene Clearview’s Daimon Knowles attempts the game-winning 3-pointer as time expires during the fourth quarter at Clearview High School on Friday. Oberlin won, 50-48.

SHEFFIELD TWP. — For the first three quarters Friday night, Oberlin seemed to be a step off.

Unfortunately for Clearview, the Phoenix caught fire in the fourth, roaring back from 10 points down to stun the Clippers with a 50-48 victory in Patriot Athletic Conference action.

Coming into the game, revenge was certainly on the Clippers’ mind, having lost to the Phoenix 63-53 in Oberlin on Jan. 11.

It was evident that Oberlin was having an off night before the game even started. As the team took the court for its pre-game warmups, it wasn’t even able to operate the tip drill cleanly.

“When we did our tip drill, I told the team, ‘Hey, we’ve got to pick this up,’” Oberlin coach Kurt Russell said. “The thing was, I could see something in their eyes that said they weren’t feeling well.”

Russell said his team had been battling the flu for the past few weeks.

While Oberlin struggled to find its game, Clearview had come to play.

After falling behind 5-4 in the first quarter, the Clippers took command of the game and didn’t trail again until the final quarter.

“Clearview played a heck of a ball game tonight,” Russell said. “We knew coming into the game that Clearview wanted to get us back for the loss earlier in the season. We also remind the team that this was a coach (John) Szalay team. Anytime you play against coach Szalay, it’s going to be a good game no matter what.”

The Clippers’ offense was led by the three-pronged attack of Gerrell Williams, Daimon Knowles and Clifton Brown. Williams used his length to drop in 15 points to lead Clearview in scoring.

Brown added 13 points and pulled down five rebounds, while Knowles knocked down three big 3-pointers and finished the game with 14 points.

The trio helped the Clippers build a 10-point lead in the third quarter, and the team looked well on their way to a victory. The lead was trimmed to eight at the end of the third quarter, and then suddenly the Clearview offense fell apart.

“In the fourth quarter, we couldn’t make a shot, couldn’t make free throws,” Szalay said. “The better team won. They made their shots, they made their run and we didn’t.”

Oberlin began hitting shots, and for the first time in the game, its confidence started to build. Of course, the Phoenix had a little added motivation at halftime.

“Coach Russell yelling at us certainly had an effect,” senior Nolan Isom said. “He said we were playing soft. We didn’t have any momentum in the first half, so we took what he said into the second half. In the fourth quarter we came up clutch.”

After trailing since early in the first quarter, the Phoenix regained the lead with 4:02 left in fourth quarter when Marcus Bailey scored on a putback in the paint.

Jason Moore led all scorers with 19 points, while fellow senior Bailey added 13. Isom added eight, but none were bigger than the two free throws he knocked down with just 42 seconds left in the game.

With the game tied at 48 with less than a minute to play, Moore put up a shot in the paint, but Williams blocked it and started the Clippers up the court the other way. Isom, however, forced a turnover at mid-court, drove to the basket and was fouled going to the hoop.

“We practice those shots in practice,” Isom said of the free throw attempts. “I’m not going to lie; there was a little scariness when I took those free throws, but I knocked them down.”

Clearview was unable to hit easy shots in the final 40 seconds, and the Phoenix held on for the two-point win.

“We didn’t make enough plays,” Szalay said. “We scored six points in the fourth quarter. How many shots did we shoot one foot away from the basket?”

Russell feels the comeback win came at the perfect time for his team as it prepares to head into the tournament.

“It fires us up and really gives us some confidence,” he said. “It shows us that we’re able to come back when down by 10. It says a lot about these boys.”

@MJ_smahoney

Last Updated: 2/16/2013 12:03:09 PM EST

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