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Redbank Valley Uses Fast Start, Strong Finish to Topple Karns City

KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — A fast start. 

A strong finish. 

Some handwringing in between. 

The Redbank Valley boys basketball team blitzed and blistered host Karns City early, jumping out to a 16-3 lead and taking a 19-point lead into the half. 

The Gremlins got as close as nine in the third quarter before the Bulldogs settled down, slowed down and went back to basics to close out Karns City, 59-39, Tuesday night. 

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

“That’s going to be the issue; I mean, we’ve only had four complete practices,” said Redbank coach Emmanuel Marshall of his team, which has several football players on the roster who only finished that season less than two weeks ago. “They want to run and gun, and we’re just not there yet. We told them to slow down and execute the offense.”

The Bulldogs did at the start of the fourth quarter, quickly erasing the gains Karns City had made with a 12-2 run to put the lead back to 19. 

“We just ran out of gas in the end,” said Karns City coach Zach Kepple. 

Redbank’s fast start had the Gremlins in scramble mode from virtually the opening tip

Marquese Gardlock scored 11 of his 14 points in the first quarter. The senior guard hit all three of his 3-pointers in the opening five minutes to stake the Bulldogs to a 13-point lead. 

Chris Marshall saved his damage for the fourth quarter as Redbank Valley pulled away. 

The senior scored nine of his game-high 17 points in the frame.

Kepple lamented that his defense did a good job for the most part on the Bulldogs’ big three — Chris Marshall, Gardlock and Bryson Bain — except during a few pivotal stretches.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of defending Bain and Gardlock,” Kepple said. “We did a good job on Marshall the first three quarters. We held Bain under 10 and into the fourth quarter held Marshall under 10. I thought we defended those two well, we just didn’t defend Gardlock in the first.”

Bain had eight points.

Luke Cramer scored 16 points to lead Karns City (4-1). Cramer played the entire fourth quarter with four fouls. The sophomore scored seven in the third to kickstart the Gremlin push. 

“His situational awareness is just phenomenal,” Kepple said of Cramer, who was an even more important piece Tuesday with starting forward Micah Rupp out because of COVID-19 protocols. “He’s a big guy, but he can defend a guy like Marshall and defend him pretty well for the majority of the game. He’s definitely a great asset to have. He’s so smart.”

Redbank Valley’s chief plan on defense was stonewalling point guard Taite Beightley.

“He’s going to be just as good as his brother (Karns City’s all-time leading scorer Chase Beighley), if not better,” Coach Marshall said. “Owen Clouse played the best defense I’ve ever seen in my life. His job was defense — I didn’t care if he scored a bucket. I wanted him to make sure Beighley didn’t score.”

Beighley didn’t hit his first field goal until the third quarter on a deep 3-pointer. He finished with 11 — 10 coming in the second half.

“Owen made him work for everything he got,” Coach Marshall said. “I commend Beighley because he’s a great basketball player.”

Coach Marshall also commended Karns City for clawing back into the game.

So did Kepple, who was pleased with his team’s grit. Not so pleased with the slow start, however.

“We really never gave up at any point, which is good,” Kepple said. “We worked hard the entire game. We got off to a slow start, which is the same thing we did against Keystone. You can’t get off to a slow start like that against (Redbank).”

Meanwhile the Bulldogs (4-2) are starting to get their basketball legs again. 

Scary thought for the rest of the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference. 

“I feel like we’re all getting there,” Chris Marshall said. “Team chemistry starting to come back and we’re and finally getting  into practices, and so I think it’ll start picking up.”

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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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