PATTON - After watching his team plod through an overtime victory earlier this week, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School boys basketball coach Chris Drenning was looking for a spark from the Marauders Friday night.
And senior C.J. Fulare provided it.
Fulare led a ball-hawking BG defense by scoring a game-high 18 points, generating at least five field goals off steals, as the Marauders broke open a close game early and cruised to a 56-40 Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference Section I win over Cambria Heights at the Cambria Heights High School gymnasium.
After surviving an overtime test with Central Cambria this past Wednesday, the Marauders' inspired performance Friday was just what the doctor ordered, according to Drenning.
"I wasn't very pleased with the way we played Wednesday,'' Drenning said. "Tonight, we came out with a lot of energy, and we played well defensively.''
Leading, 15-12 after one quarter, BG took control of Friday's game with a 10-point run early in the second quarter. Fulare began the uprising with a steal and a length-of-the-court layup to put BG ahead, 17-12.
"C.J. Fulare did a good job of getting into the passing lanes against them,'' Drenning said. "I thought we did a good job as a team defending their passing lanes and making it difficult for them to get into their offense.''
Junior forward Brandon Chadbourn scored a field goal from the paint, and junior Sam McCloskey added a floater from the baseline to put BG ahead, 21-12. Another McCloskey field goal, followed by two McCloskey free throws, helped BG build a 25-12 lead with 4:12 left in the first half.
"We've been trying to come out strong at the beginning of games, but we didn't really do that tonight,'' said McCloskey, who added 14 points. "We wanted to play defense tonight, and I think we brought more energy in the second quarter. We wanted to go into halftime with some momentum.''
Ahead, 29-20 at halftime, BG came out of the gates quickly - literally and figuratively - in the third quarter, with the 6-foot Fulare leading the charge.
Fulare opened the half with a short jumper to put BG in front, 35-24, then converted another steal into a basket to make it a 37-24 game. Leading a fast break down the court after gathering in a rebound, Fulare dumped in another field goal to put BG ahead, 39-24.
Senior Jamey Brumbaugh scored a bucket out of transition to polish off an 8-point run that staked BG (now 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference section) to a 41-24 lead with 3:07 left in the third quarter.
"Defense is a big part of our game,'' Fulare said. "If we get off to a good start on the defensive side, it leads to offense for us.''
Cambria Heights (5-6 overall, 1-2 in the section) was led by senior Shawn Lacue's 12 points and five rebounds. Junior Josh Serafin added 10 points for the Highlanders, who led, 5-0 in the early part of the first quarter.
But BG's experience and athleticism caught up with Heights, which has only one returning letterman in its fold this winter.
"Defensively, they forced us into some turnovers,'' Heights coach Eric Nagel said. "They have some nice balance offensively. We have only one letterman and no returning starters from last season, but we battled tonight. Seeing a good [opponent] like this is definitely going to help us in the future.''
BG's immediate future will be a very busy one. The Marauders host Central Monday night, then visit Penn Cambria and Bishop Carroll later in the week. The following week, BG will play four games. Friday's effort provided a nice tune-up for the Marauders.
"Seven games in the next two weeks,'' Drenning said. "We're just going to take them one at a time.''
Game notes: Chadbourn and senior Nick Little had six rebounds apiece for BG, while senior Christian Bills grabbed eight rebounds for Cambria Heights, which fashioned a 25-22 advantage on the boards ... Cambria Heights visits LHAC section foe Forest Hills next Wednesday night ... BG also won the junior varsity game, 39-31, behind D.J. Kitt's 12 points. Cole Kline had a game-high 14 points for the Cambria Heights jayvees.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (56): Fulare 7 4-4 18, Chadbourn 2 2-5 6, Rickens 2 0-0 5, McCloskey 5 3-3 14, Brumbaugh 3 1-1 7, Wolfe 0 2-4 2, Little 1 0-3 2, Gormley 0 1-2 1, Fiore 0 0-0 0, Kasun 0 0-0 0, Kibler 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 1-2 1, Luther 0 0-0 0, Livoti 0 0-0 0, Kitt 0 0-0 0. Totals - 20 14-24 56.
CAMBRIA HEIGHTS (40): Strasser 0 0-0 0, Bills 3 0-1 6, Patrick 0 0-0 0, A.J. Huber 2 0-0 4, Serafin 3 2-2 10, Lacue 5 2-4 12, Kline 2 0-0 6, Milanesi 0 2-2 2, P. Huber 0 0-0 0, Link 0 0-0 0, Kosicki 0 0-0 0. Totals - 15 6-9 40.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Guilfoyle15 14 15 12 - 56
Cambria Heights12 8 10 10 - 40
3-point goals: Bishop Guilfoyle 2 (Rickens, McCloskey); Cambria Heights 4 (Serafin 2, Kline 2).
Records: Bishop Guilfoyle (7-1 overall, 3-0 in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference Section I); Cambria Heights (5-6 overall, 1-2 in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference, Section I).
JV: Bishop Guilfoyle, 39-31. High scorers-Kitt, BG, 12; Kline, CH, 14.
Officials: Jim Racchini, Doug Steeve, Ab Dettorre.