Collegiate too much for Circle boys

Lionel Tipton

TOWANDA – Seeking to wash the bad taste of Monday’s loss to Buhler out of their mouths, the Circle Thunderbirds came out strong against Collegiate on Friday night, catching up to the Spartans and taking a 16-13 lead after one quarter. 

But disaster struck in the second quarter, when Collegiate outscored Circle 21-11 and took advantage of seven Thunderbird turnovers in the period. The Spartans, ranked No. 4 in Class 3A, were never headed after that and pulled out a 69-54 victory.

“They’re a team that does that to you,” Circle coach Bo Horyna said afterward. “They speed you up. I thought overall we did a pretty good job with their pressure, but when I go back and look at the video, I’m going to see more turnovers than what I thought.

“I don’t think we had so many turnovers that resulted in them getting layups. Some of the ones that I remember was them just beating us down the floor or after a missed shot.”

Circle actually was playing better than Monday, but Collegiate was just too tough. All but three on the Spartans’ roster stand 6-foot or taller, and that height, as well as the long wingspans that come with it, gave Circle fits all night in the paint.

Horyna said it’s difficult for the Thunderbirds (4-8) to counteract such an onslaught of height.

“Basketball’s a game of height,” he said. “There’s a reason they’ve got more height than we do. We’re just not a very tall team, when you come right down to it.”

Charlie Goree, a 6-5 senior, displayed athleticism to go with his height, and he got the majority of his game-high 21 points on floaters or short shots in the lane.

Circle, which counts a lot on outside shots from senior Drew Middleton and Luke McGinnis, found both guarded tightly by Spartan defenders. Middleton managed a team-high 12 points, but had to work extra hard to get them.

“He’s one of the top scorers in the division,” Horyna said. “We were pretty balanced scoringwise. We had 4-5 guys around 10 points. I think that’s better than having one guy score 20 or 30 points and nobody else hardly score.”

The fact that Collegiate coach Mitch Fiegel has a propensity for running in five players at a time, meant that the taller Spartans not only had a decided height advantage, but also were well-rested simply by taking the floor in waves.

Unlike in previous years, Collegiate doesn’t have that one standout player that can take over a game, Horyna said. But what they have, he said, is a preponderance of talented, athletic players.

Heralded sophomore Wesley Fair got off to a slow start. After a scoreless first quarter, he powered his way to 10 points – many on point-blank shots or stickbacks of Spartans’ misses.

Middleton finished with a team-high 12 points, but accomplished those only through a great deal of difficulty. Any time the senior tried to drive the lane, he found multiple long arms ready to swat his shot away. He also had trouble getting set on the perimeter for three-pointers, as Collegiate blanketed him constantly.

Horyna, whose Thunderbirds face another AVCTL Division IV foe Tuesday when Andale visits, said perennially tough Collegiate is no different than in previous years, noting that the Spartans just upset Mulvane, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A.

Collegiate 69, Circle 54

Collegiate 13;21;13;22 – 69

Circle 16;11;13;14 – 54

Collegiate: Goree 7 7-9 21, W. Fair 4 2-4 10, Duarte 3 6-8 12, Ramsey 2(1) 5-8 9, Kates 1 (1) 1-2 6, Clay 1 1-2 3, Dunne 1 0-0 2, Chugg 1 0-0 2, Brown 0 1-3 1. Totals 20 (2) 23-39 69.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Circle: Drew Middleton 2(1) 5-5 12, McGinnis 2(1) 4-5 11, Cowman 1(2) 2-3 10, Galloway 5 0-0 10, Koehn 4 0-0 8, Smith 1 1-4 3. Totals 15(4) 12-16 54.