Clark leads Jim Thorpe
ron gower/times news Darius Clark (33) of Jim Thorpe goes over Lehighton's Jacen Nalesnik to get off a shot.
Brian Carroll asked.
Darius Clark took it upon himself to answer.
With his Jim Thorpe boys' basketball coach looking for someone to compliment PJ Johnson's efforts at the offensive end of the floor, the Olympian senior has responded to Carroll's request over the last week.
Coming off double figure scoring performances in the Olympians' two previous games, Clark capped an impressive week with a career-high 32 points on Saturday against Lehighton.
Clark's big game provided a huge spark as Jim Thorpe posted a 67-58 victory over the Indians.
"I always thought he had the potential to be the best player on the team," said Carroll of Clark. "For whatever reason, we haven't seen it. But, as of late, he has just been bringing it and taking it to the next level."
Clark showed his scoring versatility as he tallied 18 points on layups, 12 on three-pointers, and two more on free throws.
It's not the points that matter to him, however. It's the end result.
"It just feels great to help the team win," Clark said. "It feels great to know that everybody on the team supports me and wants me to do the best I can.
"When I try my best, I succeed. Everybody has my back when I'm trying and that's one of the best feelings in the world."
After Johnson tied the game at 6-6 early in the opening period, Clark added seven straight points to help the Olympians (3-1 overall) build toward a 15-10 lead after one.
Lehighton (0-4) battled back in the second quarter behind three three-pointers by Nate Kresge. The Indians eventually tied the score at 24-24 on Anthony Rossino's free throw with 2:57 left in the half.
But Dane Ciavarella scored four points to ignite a 7-1 Olympian run to close the quarter that gave them a 31-25 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Clark pumped in nine more points to help Thorpe extend its advantage to double digits. Johnson, who finished with 12 points in the game, put an exclamation point on a 13-4 Olympian run with a dunk on an inbounds play.
Trailing by 14 points early in the final quarter, the Indians pulled within six (59-53) with 2:52 left in the game on an Alex Guyn basket. Prior to that, Kresge had hit his fifth trey of the game. But that was as close as it would get.
Kresge led Lehighton with 18 points, Guyn added 13 points and Anthony Rossino chipped in 10. Lehighton's downfall, however, was a one-for-nine performance from the foul line in the fourth quarter and 10-for-24 in the game, and that's what the Indians' first-year coach Rich Oertner thought put a damper on a potential victory.
"I'm certainly not upset with the kids," Oertner said. "I'm actually happy with the kids. We had trouble with layups and foul shots. We're doing all the right things, but we're just not making foul shots. We just have to find a way to make foul shots - that's what wins game."
Rossino 3-4-6-10, Kresge 6-1-3-18, Guyn 6-1-7-13, Crum 2-0-0-5, Thompson 2-0-0-4, Nalesnik 2-4-8-8. TOTALS: 21-10-24-58.
Harleston 0-0-0-0, St. Hill 0-1-2-1, Moore 2-1-2-5, Lynch 1-0-0-2, Ciavarella 3-1-2-8, Freeman 0-1-2-1, Brown 2-1-2-5, Clark 13-2-3-32, Johnson 5-2-4-12, Ennis 0-1-3-1. TOTALS: 26-10-20-67.
Lehighton 10 15 14 19 - 58
Jim Thorpe 15 16 20 16 - 67
Three-pointers: L - Kresge 5, Crum 1. JT - Clark 4, Ciavarella 1.