By Corey J. Corbin

Allied News Sports Editor



SLIPPERY ROCK — Call it a trap game.

Call it a possible letdown game.

Call it whatever you want, but don’t call it a loss.

Because it wasn’t. It wasn’t even close as Slippery Rock (3-2) whipped Cambridge Springs 60-29 Saturday evening at the Rock Box.

“You’re not the first person to talk to me about that,” SRHS coach Sean Strickland said. “That was part of our discussion before the game. If we’re going to be a good team, we have to play to our level every game not the competition’s level. I thought the kids did an extremely good job of continuing to play hard and playing consistent.”

Coming off a last second 79-77 Region 5 win over Franklin the night before and with another region showdown with Hickory looming Tuesday, the game with the Spa had all the makings of a trap game or a letdown game, but the Rockets would have nothing to do with it.

“After getting a big last night against Franklin, we wanted to go out tonight and get another big win,” said senior guard Zack Ejzak, who posted a game-high 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. “We wanted to get some momentum going into Hickory Tuesday night. Overall, we did a good job. After last night’s game, everyone was excited. Everyone wanted to get back in here for tonight’s game. Everyone was ready to go for today’s game.”

They certainly were.

The Rockets posted 19 straight points to open the game before Steven Kargol drained a three-pointer with 2:05 remaining in the first quarter. Slippery Rock led 25-3 after eight minutes and 41-9 after 16.

“We have to get off to a fast start,” said senior forward Matt Shearer, who added 10 points, six rebounds, three steals and a block. “It’s hard to come back down after that. We have to keep crashing the boards and playing good defense.”

The Rock played some really good defense, forcing 23 turnovers (11 in the first quarter) and limited the Devils to 9-of-38 shooting (23.7 percent) for the game. Cambridge Springs made just 1-of-11 shots in the first quarter.

“We’re trying to play real good help defense,” Shearer said. “We want to be real intense. Everyone brings intensity to the game and when we all bring that, it’s real hard to score on us.”

With Ejzak (six) and Ethan Geisler (four) combining for 10 assists, the Rockets handed out 19 assists on 26 field goals.

“Last night was really a turning point for us,” Strickland said. “The kids realized if they play together and have fun they’ll do well. I think the stats will show for the last two games how many assists we had compared to field goals.”

Brian Kelly added 14 points and four rebounds, while Geisler chipped in eight points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

“We just have a really good mindset this year,” Strickland said. “We’re worried about the 10 region games, because that’s what makes the playoffs. We’re not scouting on the other games. We’re not handing out scouting reports. We’re focused on doing well in our region and getting to the playoffs this year.”

In other Slippery Rock boys basketball action, it was:

ä Slippery Rock 79, Franklin 77 — At Franklin, Kelly scored on a putback at the buzzer to hand the Rockets a heartstopping Region 5 win.

Despite not making a field goal since the first quarter, Kelly leaped over a Franklin player to grab the rebound off a Ethan Geisler miss as the final seconds ticked off.

The basket overshadowed a 19-point second half comeback by the Knights (0-1, 3-1) and a quality fourth quarter by Tim Maleski, who scored 17 points in the final eight minutes.

Ejzak led SR with 24 points — including 18 in the first half — seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. Shearer tacked on 18 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while Kelly added 13, including 11 in the first quarter. Geisler tacked on 11 points and four assists.

Franklin entered the game allowing just 45 points a game, but allowed 48 in the first 16 minutes.

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