Depth propels Bearcats in road squeaker

SIDMAN — A sign of a well-balanced basketball squad is spreading the floor on offense to create chances for all five players involved. It’s been that simple since the game was created more than a century ago, but few teams can execute that style of play with such simplicity.

But Huntingdon has proven that already this season with its 11-1 overall mark, as the Bearcats notched another win Wednesday at Forest Hills, 68-67. Huntingdon was so effective that all eight players who saw the court in the first quarter showed up on the score sheet, en route to a 23-point first quarter.

“We have eight guys, and when we rotate in the quality of play is even or better with the starters,” Huntingdon coach Nick Payne said. “It’s great to have, but this was a tough game playing back-to-back nights.”

As clear as the game seemed to be for the Bearcats, adversity struck in the third quarter, as Forest Hills rattled off a 23-point quarter of its own. The Rangers were fueled by Josh Schrock, who scored 13 points in the third stanza.

Coming out of the locker room, Huntingdon held an 11-point advantage, which evaporated late in that third period. Schrock was bumped after he let go of a made 3-point shot and sunk the free throw to level the game at 50. But an intense fourth quarter went in favor of Huntingdon’s way, with Jon Price hitting a 3-pointer from near-NBA range to put the Bearcats up for good.

“As much as we shoot in the gym, you have to let it fly sometimes,” Price said.

Even though he didn’t make the biggest impact on the score sheet, Huntingdon’s Will Sulesky provided the Bearcats with solid defense, as well as a larger body that was able to handle the ball up the floor. His father, Mike, taught him the game growing up, even though he primarily played as a shooting guard, while Will mostly plays at the forward or center position.

“He wasn’t as big as I am, but as a kid I always wanted to be able to handle the ball,” said Sulesky, who finished with 10 points, eight of which came in the first half. “As I got older and kept growing, it was useful because I had bigger guys on me, so I was able to handle the ball easier and bring the ball up the floor.”

It may be Sulesky’s first year playing varsity, but the junior has already made life easier for his coach and teammates.

“He’s our secret weapon,” Payne said. “He’s been struggling offensively, but I have the complete confidence in him to shoot and handle the ball. He does the little things. He’s disappointed that he’s not scoring, but when we show him the positives and negatives, he’s second on the team. Tonight, he stepped up and gave us some scoring. He does a lot of good things for us.”

“He takes up a lot of space and gives us some rebounds,” Price said. “He passes really well and sees the floor really well, too.”

With lofty expectations for Huntingdon, a tough non-conference schedule could make the difference. And against stout competition like Forest Hills, it just so happened to be a little bit of a revenge game as well.

“Their student section was getting at us because of football season when they beat us,” said Price, who is one of two members of the basketball team that were also on the football team. “We kept telling each other to keep our heads. It was a revenge game for us.”

HUNTINGDON (68): Smith 2 0-0 6, Price 8 1-2 20, Lane 2 0-0 4, Sulesky 4 0-0 10, Rigby 3 0-0 6, Ritchy 2 5-9 9, Gearhart 4 0-0 9, Miller 2 0-0 4. Totals: 27 6-11 68.

FOREST HILLS (67): Richardson 10 2-2 22, Chunta 3 0-0 6, Smith 6 0-0 17, Schrock 7 5-7 16, Cecre 0 0-2 0, Bernard 0 0-0 0, Shope 0 0-0 0, Spangler 0 0-0 0. Totals: 27 7-11 67

SCORE BY QUARTER

Huntingdon 23 15 14 15–68

Forest Hills 11 16 23 16–67

3-point goals: Huntingdon 8 (Smith 2, Price 3, Sulesky 2, Gearhart, Ritchy) ; Forest Hills 6 (Schrock 2, Smith 4).

Records: Huntingdon (11-1); Forest Hills (10-4).

Officials: Colin McGinnis, Chad Walsh, Shawn Sinclair

JV: Forest Hills 39-32. High scorers–Darin Harman, H, 9; Quinn Spangler and Dominic Spinos, FH, 7 each.

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