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Warriors down Black Knights on Senior Night
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
By Andy Stine Sports Writer
ALLPORT - West Branch boys basketball head coach Danny Clark knows it's the time of the year to have his players playing their best basketball. With just a week to go before the District 6 playoffs, Clark must like what he sees as the Warriors had won five of their last six games entering Monday's contest with Moshannon Valley.
West Branch kept that hot streak alive by outscoring the Black Knights, 17-2, in the final 6:49 to win, 72-56, on Senior Night.
The Black Knights quickly jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first minute and a half on 3-pointers from Nathan Bailey and Eric Sherkel. Mo Valley hit nine treys in the game, including a pair in the first quarter from Bailey, who played in the final game of his high school career along with classmate Jim McHugh.
"They played well in their last game," said Black Knight head coach Mike LaFuria of his senior duo. "They both played good defense. Bailey boarded well. We just have to learn how to close out games for next year."
"Mo Valley can be a streaky team," said Clark. "They can hit shots. They're getting there. I told the guys before the game, ‘It's a rivalry game. It's West Branch-Mo Valley. Anything can happen.' "
West Branch took the lead late in the first quarter after a 3-pointer from John Clark and layups from Jarrett Rockey and Mike Pennington. Pennington scored 12 of his team's 19 points in the period, and the Warriors ended the first period with a 6-point lead.
"Mike hit some big shots for us tonight," said Clark. "Everybody has to up their level now. I have to expect more out of Mike now."
The Warriors extended their lead to 10 early in the second quarter, but Mo Valley counted on the 3-pointer again. This time around, the big shots went to McHugh and Luther Harlow, while Sherkel's layup and free throw tied the game with 30 seconds to play.
But on the last possession of the half, Brandon Zwick was found open for his lone 3 of the night to go into halftime with a 37-34 lead. The Warriors had seven treys in the game.
Austin Krise helped extend the Warriors lead to 12 in the third quarter on three layups in three straight possessions in transition. However, Mo Valley cut its deficit to seven at the end of the third quarter.
Krise ended the game with 21 points, six steals and five rebounds.
"Austin is a freshman, but he's a leader out there," said Clark. "He's a floor general. He rose up to the challenge tonight. I expect a lot out of him for a freshman."
Mo Valley sophomore Sam Demko hit his two 3-pointers of the night on back-to-back possessions at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The triples cut West Branch's lead to 55-54 with 6:49 remaining in the game.
But turnovers hurt the Knights down the stretch as the Warriors made layups in their 17-2 run.
Pennington had seven points in the quarter to lead the Warriors and finished the night with 24 points, while Rockey finished with five points and 11 rebounds in his final home game.
"I wish the seniors the best," said Clark. "I've enjoyed every minute of it. They're a good group of kids. I've got to see them come up through the program, and it's been fun working with them. They're great kids to be around and they've got a bright future ahead of them."
Mo Valley wrapped up its season at 0-20.
"The guys played awesome tonight," said LaFuria. "They wanted to win badly. They were pumped for this game. It's a rivalry game. The turnovers at the end just really hurt us."
"We have to get the guys playing this summer. We have to pick up a basketball out of season. We can't just come in at the beginning of the season and play."
West Branch improved to 11-10 overall, 7-0 in the Moshannon Valley League and 8-6 in the Inter-County Conference. The Warriors end their regular season tomorrow night, traveling to Curwensville before beginning the District 6 Class AA playoffs next week.
In the junior varsity game, the Warriors defeated Mo Valley, 67-45. Jesse Martin scored 15 points for West Branch, while Michael Krupa led the Knights with 16 points.

Moshannon Valley-56
McHugh 2 2-2 7, Bailey 3 3-4 11, Bubb 2 2-3 7, Harlow 6 3-5 16, Sherkel 3 1-1 9, Demko 2 0-0 6, Krupa 0 0-0 0, Frailey 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 11-15 56.
West Branch-72
Pennington 10 1-2 24, Trude 4 4-4 12, Bumbarger 0 0-0 0, Rockey 2 0-0 5, Clark 1 0-0 3, Koch 0 2-2 2, A. Krise 10 0-0 21, N. Kerlin 0 0-0 0, Zwick 2 0-0 5, S. Krise 0 0-0 0. Totals: 29 7-8 72.
Three-pointers: McHugh, Bailey 2, Bubb, Harlow, Sherkel 2, Demko 2; Pennington 3, Rockey, Clark, A. Krise, Zwick.
Score by Quarters
Moshannon Valley  13 21 14  8-56
West Branch          19 18 18 17-72


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