Conemaugh Township comes back to defeat rival Windber

·4 min read

Jan. 14—WINDBER, Pa. — Despite a sluggish start, the Conemaugh Township boys' basketball team was able to settle in during the third quarter.

Penetration into the lane and open looks on the perimeter helped the Indians mount a comeback on the road against rival Windber. A closing run in the third frame combined with a knockout blow in the fourth helped Conemaugh Township prevail with a 65-51 WestPAC North victory after trailing most of the contest.

"Starting out with our role players, they've never really been in this situation with the fans," said Conemaugh Township senior Jackson Byer, who scored a game-high 26 points. "Last year, we had COVID, so not many fans were allowed. I think once the first quarter kind of settled in and we got into the second quarter, we were able to hone in on the actual game. They were able to focus, not only on the game, but keeping out the fans."

Conemaugh Township improved to 7-1, 2-0 in the WestPAC North.

Windber (6-5, 2-2) climbed within 51-48 with 2:58 left in the fourth quarter, but Conemaugh Township responded with a 14-0 spurt to put the game away in front of a large, raucous crowd.

"In their building, of course, you're going to come ready to play," Conemaugh Township coach Chuck Lesko said of Windber. "We knew that.

"Throw away the records, throw everything out. They have pride in their school district and their system.

"We just had to answer the call. I thought in the first half, we might have settled a little bit instead of doing what we do best and that's attack the rim.

"Once we adjusted that a little bit, it felt like we got right back on track."

Accompanying Byer in double figures were Tanner Shirley with 17 points and four made 3-pointers and John Updyke with 12 points.

Caden Dusack led Windber with 16 points, and Aiden Gray added 10.

"Even when they went up, we were able to climb back to three," Windber coach Steve Slatcoff said. "We made some mistakes down the stretch and it hurt us quite a bit. Our kids played their tails off tonight. It's unfortunate we weren't able to pull this one out tonight. I'm certainly very proud of my kids."

Windber used a 10-0 advantage in the first quarter to lead 16-10 after eight minutes.

Conemaugh Township made three of its 10 3-pointers in the second quarter to outscore Windber 19-15. Byer's layup before the buzzer sounded punctuated an 8-2 run as Windber clung to a 31-29 lead at halftime. Windber's John Shuster and Blake Klosky each picked up their second and third fouls, respectively, in the second quarter.

Midway through the third quarter, Conemaugh Township caught fire with an 11-0 outburst as four different players scored. Alex Gregory, Shirley and Updyke each drained triples to highlight the game-changing run.

Conemaugh Township led 43-37 after three.

"It's great when you don't have to rely on one or two guys," Lesko said. "We got a couple big buckets off the bench tonight at the right time that provided a spark. I think Alex Gregory hit a big 3 for us at a key moment."

An Updyke basket grew Conemaugh Township's lead to 49-40, but a Klosky bucket brought Windber within 51-48.

However, four different Indians contributed in their 14-0 streak down the stretch. Dusack was called for a technical foul with 1:43 left.

"They changed up their defense a little bit and we were able to adjust," Byer said. "I got to give it to Tanner. He was able to set us up and keep us calm.

"John getting rebounds, it was just a team effort."

Windber is seeking improvement over the next few weeks before the District 5 playoffs begin.

"If you're a competitor, this is exactly what you want here tonight," Slatcoff complimented the loud crowd on hand. "When we play together, we're at our best.

"We'll get the ship righted. We're still very confident in what we can do and we're going to continue to get better.

"I promise you that."

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