GETTING TO THE RIM: Cranberry Runs Past Keystone Behind Balanced Offensive Attack

| December 6, 2023

KNOX, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Ed McIntyre wants to run.

He’d also like to see more points from his Cranberry boys basketball team at the end of those sprints down the court.

That was a mixed bag on Tuesday night at Keystone for the Berries. Those slashes to the rim yielded misfires at close range early, but started to hit the mark in the second half as Cranberry raced to a 64-51 road win over the Panthers.

(Pictured above, Cranberry huddles during a timeout)

“They’ve been an unselfish team so far,” said McIntyre, in his first year after taking over for Patrick Irwin. “They like to push the ball. They like to run the floor. I think they have fun doing it. It’s fun to watch. Their effort was really good, but we have to finish better.”

It was quite the slog early as the Berries were getting to the rim, but finding nothing to show for it.

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Keystone had the same difficulty.

Cranberry was able to open up a 13-5 lead — largely from the free throw line — and led 25-19 at the half before breaking out in the final two quarters.

The Berries had four players in double-digits with Cole Findlay leading the way with 16.

Landon Baker added 14, Ethan Merryman 12 and Blake Marchinke 10.

Cranberry, though, had trouble putting Keystone away.

After taking that eight-point early lead, the Panthers were able to cut it to 19-18 late in the first half before the Berries (2-1) were able to close on a 6-1 run.

Cranberry’s lead swelled to as many as 13 early in the third quarter, but again Keystone stormed back on the strength of a 13-2 run to trim the deficit to two.

The Panthers could get no closer.

“Basically we’re trying to run defenses on the fly that we have never practiced,” said Keystone coach Greg Heath. “We haven’t had enough practice time, so we’re trying to get them to understand defenses that they’ve never played before.”

That’s compounded by the fact there are a slew of young players in key roles this season, including two freshmen — Dom Corcetti and Eli Nellis — in the starting five.

“They worked hard and didn’t give up and I’m proud of them for that,” Heath said. “There’s just so many things we have to work on. We just need more practice time to get it done.”

Things were also complicated for Keystone by the fact junior guard Drew Keth got himself into early foul trouble.

He still finished with a game-high 18 for the Panthers (0-3).

“You could see their youth, in the first half in particular, when things weren’t going well,” Heath said. “They were getting into panic mode. They were getting down on themselves.”

Like Heath, McIntryre admitted there is much work to be done, despite a much crisper and efficient second half from his team.

“We need to get better in a lot of areas,” the coach said. “Our defensive effort was pretty good. We certainly need to make our layups and shots around the basket on a more consistent basis.”

For Keystone, time may be the best salve for what ails it.

“We had one letterman back,” Heath said. “We had nine practices before our tip-off tournament where we played two great teams. We’re still trying to figure out what we can do well. There’s a lot of potential there.”

Cranberry Area High School sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Redbank Chevrolet and DuBrook.

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