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Clutch Free Throw Shooting Helps Otto-Eldred Edge Clarion-Limestone in D9 Third-Place Game to Move on to State Playoffs

SHEFFIELD, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Otto-Eldred made 7-of-8 free throws over the final 48 seconds of the contest to help turn a 51-50 game into a 60-52 victory over Clarion-Limestone on Friday evening at Sheffield High School to capture third place in the District 9 Class 2A tournament.

C-L trailed 49-48 with 3:30 to play following a Kohen Kemmer 3-pointer. However, Landon Francis countered with a short jumper for the Terrors to give them a 51-48 lead. Jack Craig would score for a 51-50 game at the 1:30 mark.

Francis then made a runner in the lane for a 53-50 lead.

C-L would then turn the ball over their next three trips down the floor and they were forced to foul Francis who made 6-of-6 free throws extending the lead to 59-50.

Jase Ferguson would score for C-L before Braxton Caldwell hit 1-of-2 free throws to set the final score.

Clarion-Limestone Area High School sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Redbank Chevrolet and DuBrook.

“It was a battle out there tonight,” said C-L head coach Pat Craig. “It’s one of those games you want to be in. I know we talked about having to come up here to Sheffield to play, but it was actually a good environment to be in. It was a hostile crowd, but an excited crowd. With the smaller gym you could really feel the crowd.”

Francis scored 20 points for Otto-Eldred, including an 8-for-8 performance from the free throw line. Manning Splain scored 22 points to lead the Terrors.

For C-L, Jase Ferguson scored 12 points while handing out six assists. Jack Craig scored 10 points, and Jack Callen scored nine points with three blocks. Ty Rankin pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.

Following a 10-9 lead at the 2:35 mark of the first quarter, the Terrors would close the quarter on a 6-2 run to lead 16-11 after one.

The lead would grow to nine late in the second quarter at 28-19, but a Ty Rankin putback and a three from Jesse Siwiecki cut the lead to four at 28-24 by halftime.

A 14-5 run by C-L to start the third quarter would put the Lions ahead 38-33 with just over two minutes to play in the quarter. The Terrors would score the next four points to close to within one before a Ferguson three put the Lions ahead 41-37 after three.

Callen would break a 41-all tie with a pair of free throws. Francis and Splain would hit back-to-back three-pointers to give Otto-Eldred the lead for good at 47-43.

“Turnovers hurt us toward the end of the game,” said Pat Craig. “They were able to take advantage of those by knocking down those free throws when we were forced to foul. Overall though it was a very well played game by both teams. They allowed both teams to play physical which is our style, but hats off to Otto as they were able to finish it out.”

The game marked the end of the careers of four C-L seniors in Ty Rankin, Jack Callen, Jack Craig, and Kothen Smith.

“The last game for these seniors and I got a little emotional talking about it with them in the locker room after the game,” said Pat Craig. “I’ve known these guys since T-ball and basketball since like fourth or fifth grade. It’s always a bummer to end that basketball career. It was fun the whole way through this journey. Hats off to those seniors as they helped us continue to build on what C-L boys basketball had already been building on. Hopefully the younger guys will continue that tradition as they got experience of playing at the university and playing in an environment like tonight. With hard work in the offseason and being able to fill the shoes of these seniors that we can get back here and maybe beyond next season.”

Clarion-Limestone Area High School sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Redbank Chevrolet and DuBrook.