COPLEY: Delone Carter sat at courtside watching his alma mater Copley play.
The former “Mr. Football” and running back for the Indianapolis Colts had to love the physicality as Green and Copley went at each other relentlessly.
It took a lot of composure for the Bulldogs (7-5, 6-2) to defeat the Indians 72-67 Friday night in a battle for second place in the Suburban League at Copley High.
Green coach Mark Kinsley raved about the way the undersized Indians force teams to play at a break-neck pace.
“I just can’t give coach [Mark] Dente enough credit for what he has done with that Copley program the last two years,” Kinsley said. “The kids played hard, physical, and at times they were a lot tougher than we were.”
Kinsley also credited his players for not coming apart every time the Indians (8-5, 5-3) tried to rally.
“We had a couple of chances to buckle, but we made enough plays and held on to the ball. That was a big one for us,” Kinsley said.
The best example of the Bulldogs’ coolness under pressure came with 6.7 seconds left and Green holding on to a 69-67 lead and the ball at half court.
After Copley had tipped the ball out of bounds and the Bulldogs took a timeout, senior David Lebo quickly surveyed the scene, with the first option to go to Evan Keeslar.
“We ran Evan off a couple of screens and we also told them we might be able to sneak someone deep,” Kinsley said.
Lebo looked and found Dan Fanelly wide open breaking for the basketball and hit him in stride, and the 6-foot-5 forward scored and made the foul shot to salt away the win.
“It [the Copley defense] just kind of broke down and my teammate got me the ball,” Fanelly said, who scored 13 points.
Lebo not only made the clutch assist, but he also was tied for game high-scoring honors with 19 points.
“When they [Copley] are trapping, you have to stay calm,” Lebo said.
“It was a big win; we needed this one.”
The Bulldogs had four players in double figures with Keeslar scoring 14 points and Andrew Pratt putting in 12 points.
It was a frustrating night for the Indians, whose only lead was 3-2 on Jayln Tyler’s 3-point shot. The Bulldogs then went on a 12-4 run and led by as much as 10 points in the second and third quarter.
“We had no energy and got off to a slow start, which really hurt us,” Dente said. “It was more of a half-court game and that is not to our advantage; our advantage is starting quickly and getting on top and then trying to catch up.”
The Indians were also a bit unlucky with several shots rimming out.
“The ball didn’t bounce our way a couple of times tonight but they deserved credit for the win,” Dente said.
Brandon Gathagan, a junior, had four 3-point shots and tied Lebo for scoring honors, playing one day after his grandmother, Betty Gathagan, died.
Kenny Paramore, a junior, finished with 15 points for Copley, senior C.J. Chatman had 11 points and Tyler had nine.
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