ALLPORT — The West Branch boys basketball team came out firing on all cylinders Wednesday evening against Harmony, running out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter on the way to a 72-25 decision over the Owls, who only dressed eight players.
The Warriors were 8-of-16 from the floor in the first quarter, hitting many of their buckets on drives in the lane.
After taking a 20-2 lead after one, the Warriors switched gears and began bombing away from behind the arc. West Branch only hit 3 of its 14 threes in the frame, but it was still able to up the advantage to 38-11 by the break.
“We knew they were a little shorthanded today, but we still had to come in and play ball,” West Branch head coach Danny Clark said. “We executed and did what we had to do. They started in man, then switched to zone and we started hitting shots.
“We were hitting layups to start, then we started taking threes when they went to zone.”
West Branch connected on 13 three-pointers in the game. Doug Kolesar paced the Warriors with four treys and a team-high 16 points.
“We had a tough game Monday night against Williamsburg Monday night that came down to the wire and Doug played a good game on the boards and with assists. He didn’t score, but tonight he hits the first bucket of the game. That’s nice to see.
“The other night he had some crucial rebounds and probably five or six perfect transition passes that got us going. That was encouraging. Then today he does the scoring. It’s great to see.”
While the Warriors were building a lead, Harmony was struggling to get its shots to fall. The Owls had good looks at the bucket, but couldn’t get anything to fall, hitting just 1-of-11 in the first quarter and 4-of-21 in the first half.
“We got down early. West Branch went on a nice run,” Harmony head coach Matt Woods said. “But we were getting open looks. The offense was working the way it’s supposed to work. We were getting open looks and even getting rebounds on our missed shots, we just could not put a shot in.”
Any thoughts of a second-half comeback from the Owls were quickly squashed by the hosts, who surged to a 55-15 lead, getting the mercy clock running at 2:18 of the third quarter.
Kolesar scored 11 of his 16 points in the 17-4 run and the Warriors connected on six of their 11 shots from behind the arc in the quarter to takek a 65-18 advantage to the fourth.
“Coach Clark does such a great job,” Woods said. “They came out fired up and they don’t stop. From the time the whistle blows and the jump ball goes up in the air, they just keep attacking the basket. It’s fun to watch that team play to be honest.
“He always coaches them right. His kids are gentlemen.”
Warrior point guard and floor general Ayden Gutierrez had a solid all-around game. He scored all 11 of his points in the first half and dished out six assists before exiting the game (along with al the starters) late in the third.
“He’s the coach of the floor. Whatever he does I don’t usually question,” Clark said of Gutierrez. “There isn’t much more I can ask of Ayden. I’m just going to enjoy the last two months I have with him.”
West Branch’s leading scorer on the season Trenton Bellomy netted nine points, while Travis Rothrock also netted nine off the bench. Cam Kopchik added eight off the bench as well.
The Warriors bench scored 27.
“Those guys are going to keep scoring,” Clark said. “We may be a little weaker in some areas, but they’re going to keep the scoring going.”
Jayden Westover and Isaac Elias led the Owls with six points each.
Harmony slipped to 2-10 overall and 2-3 in the Moshannon Valley League.
The Owls visit St. Joseph’s Academy on Friday.
“We’re going to put this one behind us,” Woods said. “We have a game Friday, so we’re not going to dwell on this one. We need to move forward and hopefully we can put this one behind us and be ready.”
West Branch improved to 9-2 overall and 4-0 in the MVL.
The Warriors travel to Glendale today.
Westover 1 4-5 6, McGarvey 2 0-2 4, Schneider 2 0-0 4, Elias 2 1-2 6, Boring 2 0-0 5, Dubyak 0 0-0 0, Rorabaugh 0 0-0 0, Elli 0 0-0 0. Totals: 9 5-9 25.
Bellomy 3 1-2 9, D. Kolesar 6 0-0 16, Eboch 2 0-0 6, Kristofits 1 1-2 3, Gutierrez 5 1-1 11, Dale 0 0-0 0, Kopchik 3 0-0 8, Rothrock 2 3-3 9, Tiracorda 2 1-2 5, Croyle 0 0-0 0, K. Kolesar 1 0-0 2, Williams 0 0-2 0, Graham 1 0-0 3, Guglielmi 0 0-0 0, Kennedy 0 0-0 0. Totals: 26 7-12 72.
Three-pointers: Boring, Elias. Eboch 2, Bellomy 2, Kopchik 2, Kolesar 4, Rothrock 2, Graham.
Score by Quarters
Harmony 2 9 7 7—25
West Branch 20 18 27 7—72