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Too much offense helps Marauders best Bedford

Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski / Bishop Guilfoyle's Cameron Khoza does a no-look pass by Bedford's Mercury Swaim.

It has become exceedingly apparent over the course of this scholastic basketball season that the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic Marauders are anything but a one-trick pony.

The Marauders boast a balanced lineup in which all five starting players are quite capable of scoring in double figures on any given night, along with a powerful front line that averages 6-feet-7 in height, giving BG a formidable edge in the paint over most of its opponents.

When opponents attempt to collapse inside defensively against BG, the Marauders kick the ball outside and light up the scoreboard from 3-point range.

Bishop Guilfoyle presents an extremely difficult matchup for its opposition, and will be a very tough out in the upcoming postseason, even after having moved up one level to Class 3A this season.

Sophomore guard Patrick Haigh scored a game-high 27 points to lead four BG double-figure scorers Thursday night as the Marauders clipped Bedford, 70-54 in a Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference tournament semifinal game at the Pleasant Valley gymnasium.

BG, which improved to 13-3 overall and 11-2 in the conference, was seeded second among four teams in the conference tournament, with Bedford seeded third. The Marauders will play top-seeded Johnstown, a 78-58 winner over fourth-seeded Penn Cambria Thursday, for the conference championship Saturday at 4 p.m. at Central Cambria High School.

“Patrick Haigh obviously had a great game, but I thought that our balance was excellent tonight,” said BG coach Chris Drenning, whose Marauders also got 11 points apiece from senior forward Cameron Khoza and senior guard Casey Smith, and 10 from senior center Michael Woolridge. “We moved the ball very well, and Bedford is a hard-nosed defensive team, so you have to do that in order to be successful against them.”

On a night when top senior scorer Alex Wood picked up three early fouls and spent a large portion of the game on the sideline, BG compensated with its superior depth.

“Alex is one of our leading scorers, but he wasn’t able to play much tonight after getting the three fouls,” Drenning said. “But we had four players in double figures, and we distributed the ball well, which makes it tougher to defend against us.

“Cameron Khoza and Casey Smith both had 11, Michael Woolridge had 10, and Patrick Haigh played a terrific floor game tonight,” Drenning added. “He’s only a sophomore, but he’s already a great player, and he’s going to have a great career. He just keeps improving. We also got huge minutes off the bench tonight from (seniors) Konner Kiesewetter and Andrew Yanoshak.”

BG led only 31-26 at halftime, but ruled the third quarter, 21-12 behind Haigh’s three 3-pointers to take command, 52-38 after three stops.

BG put together a 16-8 surge to widen a five-point lead to 13 points, 49-36, late in the third quarter. Woolridge’s inside bucket, a 3-pointer from the top of the circle by Khoza, and Haigh’s 3 from the right corner staked BG to a 41-30 lead.

Woolridge’s fast-break layin put BG up 43-31, before Bedford (13-4, 9-4) reeled off the next five points on a 3 by junior Mercury Swaim and a bucket by junior Zach Vent to close the gap to 43-36.

Two consecutive 3-pointers by Haigh, however, put BG squarely back into the driver’s seat to stay.

“I think we started to communicate very well in our zone defense, and our defense turned into offense in the second half, and we knocked some open looks,” Haigh said.

Senior guard Steven Ressler led Bedford with 16 points and Swaim chipped in 10 for the Bisons.

BG converted 23 of its 43 floor shots for an impressive 53 percent shooting ratio, and Khoza led all rebounders in the game with 10.

The impressive combination ofsize and shooting touch gives BG an excellent inside-outside attack.

“They’re just a really good team,” Bedford coach Jason Ressler said of the Marauders. “They’ve got a lot of length, a lot of guys who can shoot, and a lot of weapons. It’s hard to defend the whole floor against them.”

BG has a tough task ahead Saturday if the Marauders hope to achieve the conference title. Johnstown defeated BG, 69-57 a month ago on the Marauders’ home court.

“I expect a difficult game Saturday – they’re very good,” Drenning said of the Johnstown team. “They have a very good inside player and their guards can shoot the ball very well. If we can take care of the ball and shoot it well against them, I am hopeful that we will have a chance.”

BEDFORD (54): Koontz 2 3-4 7, S. Ressler 5 3-4 16, K. Ressler 1 0-0 3, Weber 1 3-4 5, Swaim 4 0-2 10, Washington 2 3-4 8, Vent 1 0-0 2, Wilson 1 0-1 3. Totals – 17 12-19 54.

BISHOP GUILFOYLE (70): Wood 0 0-0 0, Haigh 7 7-9 27, Mi. Woolridge 5 0-2 10, Khoza 4 2-2 11, Smith 3 3-4 11, Kon. Kiesewetter 2 2-3 7, Yanoshak 1 0-0 2, Ma. Woolridge 1 0-0 2. Totals – 23 14-20 70.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Bedford 8 18 12 16 — 54

Bishop Guilfoyle 15 16 21 18–70

3-point goals: Bedford 8 (S. Ressler 3, Swaim 2, K. Ressler, Koontz, Washington); Bishop Guilfoyle 10 (Haigh 6, Smith 2, Khoza, Kon. Kiesewetter).

Officials: Bill Pfeffer, Craig Andros, Tim Hite.

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