CARLISLE — Valley View snapped Carlisle’s 11-game win streak Friday night, handing the host Indians a 69-60 loss, their first defeat since Dec. 16.
Spartan junior Zach Denny scored 37 points, but his passing was just as important.
Double-teamed, Denny found teammates Brad Miller and Patrick Doyle for open 3-point shots in the third quarter, sparking a 15-4 run that gave the Spartans an 11-point lead and discouraged Carlisle coach Jeff Waugh from continuing with the defensive strategy.
“Zach’s a very, very, very good player and we have a lot of respect for him,” Waugh said. “We tried to get a guy up on him and he was able to get to the basket. We tried to double him and he was able to find open teammates and they hit the open shots. That makes it tough to defend them.”
Carlisle rallied to tie 53-all early in the fourth behind inspired play from Nick Burton (nine points, six rebounds), Jon Back (19 points) and Michael Kruse (18 points).
But Denny scored eight consecutive points over the final two minutes as the Spartans stretched the lead back to nine points and improve their record to 10-6.
“It’s about confidence,” Denny said. “Confidence that I can make the plays down the stretch and confidence in my teammates that they’ll make the plays when I give them the ball. This is a big win for us.”
After mixing zone defenses through the first half, Valley View coach Ben Buehner went exclusively with man-to-man defense in the fourth quarter and locked down the Indians’ attack, holding them scoreless for more than three minutes.
“We had some problems locating their guys at times in the zone and they took advantage,” Buehner said. “When the game got tight, we couldn’t afford to leave people open so we went man.
“Carlisle has a good team. They seem to always find a way to win and it’s always tough to play in ‘The Pit’ with the crowd breathing down on you.”
The Indians, who dropped to 12-5, were left wondering what could have been. “We had three possessions with the score tied in the fourth quarter with a chance to get the lead but couldn’t get a shot to go down,” Waugh said. “With us not getting the lead, they were able to maintain control of the game and keep the ball in Denny’s hands.
“But this was a good tournament test for us. I’m proud of our effort and hopefully we’ll learn from this and gain confidence going into the games ahead.”