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Karns City Survives Sluggish Second Half in 36-33 Victory Over A-C Valley

KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Karns City went more than eight minutes of game clock without scoring.

The Gremlins were out-rebounded 2-1 in the second half, hit just four field goals and scored 11 points.

And won.

It wasn’t pretty, but Karns City will take the 36-33 win over A-C Valley on its home floor Friday night.

The Gremlins did well against the Falcons’ zone in the first half. In the final two quarters, though, A-C Valley switched to a man-to-man defense and Karns City scuffled.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

“We have to be better,” said Karns City coach Zach Kepple. “It’s disappointing. Simple as that. If you’re looking at this league compared to the way it was a couple of years ago when I started as an assistant, everyone played man; there’s weren’t many zones. Now it’s the other way around — we don’t see a lot of man-to-man. That’s something we have to be better prepared for. We practice it, but there’s a difference between going against it in practice and in a game situation. We have to be more efficient.”

Against A-C Valley’s zone in the first half, Karns City was patient and point guard Taite Beighley was able to find the dead spots.

Beighley scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half as the Gremlins led 25-9 at the break.

A-C Valley (6-8) was a different team after halftime.

“Our mindset was basically Taite is one heck of a point guard and we didn’t want him slashing to the hoop and getting us in early foul trouble, so we thought we’d pack it in a little bit,” said A-C Valley coach Anthony McGarvey of his first-half strategy, which had some very mixed results. “Then they started hitting the outside shot. We kind of had to make the switch and that started our engines.”

A-C Valley throttled up the defensive pressure and began chipping away at the Karns City advantage.

The Falcons cut the Gremlin lead to 31-22 after the third quarter and got it down to seven at 31-24 midway through the fourth.

At that point, Karns City had gone eight minutes without a point.

But Hobie Bartoe hit a huge 3-pointer to break the drought and give the Gremlins a 10-point cushion.

It was the only three points of the game for Bartoe, but they were pivotal.

“That was more than a quarter of our points in the second half in one shot,” Kepple said. “That was a big bucket for us. Kind of sparked us a little bit. Gave us a little bit of energy. It was huge for Hobie to come off the bench and do that for us.”

A-C Valley, though, wouldn’t go away.

The Falcons got the lead down to six with 22 seconds left and five with 10 seconds on the clock.

A-C Valley just ran out of time.

“I’m proud of our guys,” McGarvey said. “You know, hats off to Karns City. They’re rolling.”

Jay Clover scored 15 points and Alex Preston 11 to lead A-C Valley. Clover also had 10 rebounds and Landon Chalmers was also strong on the glass with 13 boards.

The Falcons have largely been a first-half team. Their woes have come after halftime. Not so Friday against Karns City.

McGarvey is hoping this comeback, even though it ultimately fell short, can been a stepping stone to better things ahead.

The key will be putting two good halves together, the coach said.

“We asked them, ‘Where do you want to be Feb. 17?’ That’s the day after our last regular-season game,”McGarvey said. “‘Do you want to be home getting ready for baseball practice? Or do you want to be preparing for a first-round playoff game?’ I hope the guys are starting to click. I mean, they work their butts off. It was rough, but I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

Karns City (11-2) was playing again without Luke Cramer, who has been out since injuring his ankle late in a win at Clarion last Friday.

Micah Rupp added six points and Braden Grossman pitched in five. Grossman was also huge on the boards and on defense for the Gremlins.

“Braden stepped in and had eight points vs. Oil City, which is a very good team,” Kepple said. “He’s played really good defense. He had the challenge tonight to guard Preston, who is a good six inches taller than he is, and Braden did a great job. He gets a few boards here and there, knocks down a few shots, so he’s done a great job getting quality minutes for us.”

Cramer, who is averaging around 15 points per game this season, could be out another two to three weeks.

“We’re gonna have to have some guys step up and score some points for us,” Kepple said. “He’s a hard guy to guard and he can do a little bit of everything. You have to rise through adversity and take on the challenges at hand and be successful.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

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