Foul line spells trouble for Laurel
Laurel (51) Vs. Riverside (61)
Dec 12, 2008
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS
It’s as simple as this for the Laurel High basketball team: When Jake Dando doesn’t score, the Spartans struggle.
Last night at Riverside High in the WPIAL Section 2-AA opener for both squads, Dando got into foul trouble. He was on the bench for the final 1:33 of the third quarter and the first couple minutes of the fourth.
When he did return to the lineup, he couldn’t be aggressive on defense and had to be careful going for rebounds. Dando finished with just 12 points as Riverside downed Laurel, 61-51.
It didn’t help that Laurel didn’t have a particularly good shooting night — the Spartans made just 12 of 32 field-goal attempts in the second half — and went to the foul line just seven times, making three, while the Panthers connected on 19 of 24 free-throw attempts.
Laurel also seemed to throw away the ball at the most inopportune times.
“We don’t have enough [offensive] firepower to overcome the mistakes,” said Laurel coach Mike Tinstman, whose team is 2-2 overall. “We didn’t shoot the ball very well and made too many foolish turnovers. But you’ve also got to credit Riverside. They played well.”
Dando picked up his third foul at 3:11 of the third quarter and his fourth shortly there after. Still, Laurel was still in the contest after Tyler Forbes made a layup with 2:13 left to play. That cut Riverside’s lead to 51-48.
Forbes was fouled on the play but missed the free throw. Riverside’s Mason Marion, who had a game-high 23 points, then drove for a layup to make the Panthers’ lead five and Laurel turned the ball over. Following a timeout, Riverside’s Sean Strosnider scored on a fast break, Laurel missed a 3-point attempt at the other end and the Panthers grabbed the rebound.
Riverside, which is 3-1, then converted six of eight free-throw attempts in the final minute.
“We played really well,” Riverside coach John Rorick said. “Winning the section opener at home is always good and in this section, with all the teams pretty evenly matched, you have to take care of business at home.
“We’re undersized, but we hustle and we’ve got some guys who can shoot the basketball. And when we have a lead at the end like that and can make team chase us …”
Shane Rusnock scored 13 points for the Panthers, but his biggest contribution was on defense. A 6-foot senior, he guarded Dando, a 6-4 junior, man-to-man and never allowed him to get going.
“Shane’s a good athlete,” Rorick said. “He’s one of our two returning starters. Last year, he was a shutdown guy for us and usually had the other team’s top scorer. This year we need him to do more scoring and he’s really stepped up.”
Laurel fell behind 8-1 in the first three minutes and never was able to grab the lead. The Spartans closed to within a point twice in the early going and trailed by three, 35-32, going into the fourth quarter.
But every time Laurel appeared poised to make a run, Riverside was able to creep away. The Panthers never panicked.
“Being involved in two overtime wins in our tipoff tournament helped that,” Rorick said. “We’ve been in close games.”
The Spartans had two more field goals — 20 to 18 — than Riverside, but couldn’t overcome the large deficit at the foul line. Tinstman didn’t blame the loss on the free-throw margin.
“We don’t do enough to create opportunities for us to get to the line,” he said. “We have to create more.
“Learning how to win is a process and we’re still going through that. I thought we played hard, we’ve just got to learn to play smarter.”