CLAYSBURG - The Claysburg-Kimmel boys basketball team has been perennially at the bottom of the Inter-County Conference North Division. The team won just four games all of last season.
This year's version of the Bulldogs is looking to turn all that around. Claysburg moved over the .500 mark at 5-4, 3-1 in the ICC North, with a 68-58 win over Juniata Valley Friday.
"This is a very big win for us," Claysburg coach Josh Klausman said. "This team is just learning how to win. A win like this will go a long way for us as we get further down the road this season."
The Hornets fell to 7-2 overall, 3-1 in the ICC North as well.
Carter Cerully scored a game-high 24 points and Austin Lamont had 19 points to lead the Bulldogs. Brandon Gergely added 15 points. Luke Eberhart led the team on the boards with nine rebounds to go along with six points and three blocked shots.
"We put in a lot of work in the offseason and got off to a bit of a rough start, but it feels really good to be in second place in the ICC," Gergely said. "It's great to have a winning team here in Claysburg."
Caleb Taylor led Valley with 18 points. Kordell Collins and Gordon Gable scored 13 apiece.
Claysburg fell behind by 10 midway through the second quarter but rallied to score the final nine points of the half to pull within one.
The run started with what amounted to a four-point possession. As Eberhart scored down low, he was fouled. The 6-foot-4 sophomore missed the ensuing free throw, but Cerully got the inside position, grabbed the rebound and scored on a reverse layup.
Gergely drained a 3-pointer from the corner to make it a 26-25 game at the break.
The Bullldogs closed out the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers by Gergely and Cerully to go up five points entering the fourth, but Juniata Valley went on an 8-0 run to take a 50-47 lead.
"This time last year when we had a five-point lead entering the fourth quarter, they would have tied it up, taken the lead and we'd be trailing the whole fourth quarter," Klausman said. "We've gotten a lot stronger with the ball. The kids take ownership of the mistakes they make and work to get better. They've grown up a lot."
Collins' third 3-pointer of the game gave the Hornets the lead, but Lamont answered with a four-point play on Claysburg's next possession to start an 11-0 run.
The senior guard hit a 3-pointer from the wing and was fouled on the play. He sank the ensuing free throw, giving Claysburg the lead for good.
"When Austin hit that 3 and got fouled, that was the turning point. It really got us going," Gergely said.
After Cerully converted 1-of-2 free throws, Gergely scored on the fastbreak and was fouled. The officials ruled it an intentional foul and awarded Claysburg three free throws and the ball.
Gergely made two of the three foul shots.
"The officials made a mistake. They should have been given just one foul shot and the ball, but that didn't cost us the game," Valley coach Ron Anders said. "They made shots down the stretch. In a tight game, the team that plays better in the final four minutes is going to win."
Lamont's up-and-under layup put Claysburg ahead 58-50 and the Bulldogs held Juniata Valley off down the stretch to sew up the win.
"Most of those kids have been playing since they we're freshmen and have taken their lumps," Anders said. "It's been a long time since they've beaten us. They played a good game. We'll clean some things up and get better. It's a long season."
JUNIATA VALLEY (58): Taylor 9 0-0 18, Grove 1 0-0 3, Collins 5 0-2 13, Grissinger 0 0-0 0, Shawver 3 0-0 6, Barton 0 0-0 0, Gable 5 1-4 13, Maysonet 2 0-0 5, Gildea 1 0-0 2. Totals - 25 1-6 58.
CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (68): Lamont 7 3-4 19, Brown 1 0-0 2, Gergely 5 2-3 15, Cerully 9 3-6 24, Eberhart 3 0-1 6, Dugan 1 0-1 2, Polisky 0 0-0 0. Totals - 26 8-15 68.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Juniata Valley14 12 16 16 - 58
Claysburg-Kimmel11 14 22 21 - 68
3-point goals: Juniata Valley 7 (Grove, Collins 3, Gable 2, Maysonet); Claysburg-Kimmel 8 (Lamont 2, Gergely 3, Cerully 3).
Records: Juniata Valley (7-2, 3-1 ICC North); Claysburg-Kimmel (5-4, 3-1 ICC North).