The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 15, 2014

Somerset slips past Johnstown

SOMERSET — A youthful Somerset boys’ basketball team has been doing a lot of growing up the last couple games.

The Golden Eagles survived a double overtime thriller on Monday at Central Cambria and Wednesday night found themselves in another tight ball game with reigning District 6 Class AAA champion Greater Johnstown.

Somerset overcame an early nine-point deficit buoyed by a 26-point night by Dylan Barnes and held on for a 63-60 victory over the Trojans in a Laurel Highlands Division 2 clash.

“We have been in a lot of close games and have not done things but have ended up getting a win down the stretch and that’s a tribute to a bunch of young kids,” Somerset coach Scott Close said. “We’ve got sophomores and freshmen on the floor along with a lot of guys who don’t have a lot of varsity experience before this year. You’re always looking for a signature win for young guys to get their confidence and we felt Monday was a signature win that we could build off of. Then beating Johnstown is something that we’ve had trouble doing in previous years and with this signature win we hope that we can continue to move forward.”

Barnes added nine rebounds for the Golden Eagles (8-6), who also got 12 points from Jake Heiple and 11 from George Coyle.

“It took a lot of teamwork for us to get through this game,” Barnes said. “Coach told us we had to pick it up rebounding and play tougher on defense and we did that. We know that we are going to have to face them a few more times this season.”

Jeremy Updyke topped the Trojans with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Despite limited playing time due to foul trouble Shaquan Reid finished with 13 points while Ryan Price had 11.

Early on it looked as though it was the Trojans who were having success executing their offense.

Johnstown (5-6) took a 6-0 lead and its biggest lead of the game, 16-7 at the 4:50 mark of the first quarter. But Somerset closed the gap and trailed 25-18 after the first. Reid picked up his second foul in the first frame.

The Golden Eagles turned up their defense a notch in the second quarter and pulled even at 30 on a Coyle layup with 4:38 left before the half. Coyle followed up with the go-ahead score a little over a minute later and Somerset never trailed again, going into intermission with a 36-33 advantage.

Somerset opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run, fueled by a 3-pointer and basket by Michael VanLenten and a Connor Zarefoss bucket. Reid picked up his fourth foul in the quarter and the Golden Eagles stretched their lead to 51-42 after three.

Somerset extended its lead to 10 twice before Johnstown came charging back in the fourth.

A basket by Kevin Brandon (nine points) with under 20 seconds remaining pulled Johnstown to within 3, but a 3-point attempt at the buzzer clanked off the rim, preserving the victory of the Eagles.

“Fatigue may have led to some of the bad decisions that we made there at the end but we did enough to win,” Close said. “We had a couple turnovers and some missed free throws, but at the end of the game, what you focus on is the positive and not worry about what might have been. Look at the scoreboard and be happy with what you did and learn from what you did earlier in the game.”

Johnstown coach Neil Cobaugh said his team is very undisciplined mentally at this point.

“We make a lot of mental mistakes,” Cobaugh said. “We call time out and guys come out of the huddle and 5 seconds later they forget what they are supposed to do. We started out great and then just made way too many mistakes.”

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