CUMBERLAND — A thing of beauty or an ugly nightmare?
It depended on which side of the gym one sat on Saturday night at Allegany. One thing was certain: it was a City League blowout.
Top-ranked Allegany welcomed back Trenton Eirich, trailed only briefly in the opening minutes, and dominated third-ranked Fort Hill 65-33.
Ten Campers scored, with Christian Thomas leading the way with 16 points and six rebounds. Eirich had 13 points and five assists, Darquel Jessie six points and 10 rebounds and Bryce Nightengale four points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.
The 33 points were a season low for the Allegany defense and the Fort Hill offense. The Campers led 13-10 after the first quarter, 28-14 at the half and 40-25 through three quarters.
“That was as good of defense as I’ve seen us ever play,’’ said Allegany coach Tedd Eirich. “To hold any team to 33 points is impressive. Our intensity was there from the start to the end. At times this year we’ve had gaps in our defense when we fell asleep, but we didn’t have that tonight.”
And Allegany (11-4, 2-1 City, 10-1 AMAC), outrebounded by Fort Hill 41-20 in a 68-66 loss just two weeks ago, had 50 rebounds — 25 in each half.
Fort Hill (7-7, 1-2, 6-3) never got untracked offensively, and only two players scored in the first half. The Sentinels shot 8 for 45 from the field over the final three quarters and finished 13 for 58, including 1 for 12 from three-point range.
Jarrett Wolfe led Fort Hill with 12 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots, giving him 105 career blocks. Travis Bush had five points and a team-high 12 rebounds.
“My hat’s off to Allegany. They played a good game defensively and it translated on the offensive end for them with some easy shots,’’ Fort Hill coach Thad Burner said. “Some of our bad shots turned out to be outlet passes and they were off to the races.
“When you shoot the way we did and have 21 lazy possessions, possessions when we stood around too much on offense or didn’t fight for loose balls, you’re not going to beat a team like Allegany.”
The first meeting had plenty of ties and lead changes. This one did not. Fort Hill’s only leads were 4-2, 6-5 and 10-9 in the first quarter.
Jessie had back-to-back tip-ins to close the quarter and, as Burner said, the Campers were pretty much off to the races from there.
Allegany’s halfcourt trap again proved to be a big weapon in the first half as the Sentinels, 0 for 4 with six turnovers, failed to score on their first 10 possessions of the second quarter. Colton Sivic gave Allegany its first double-figure lead, 20-10, and buckets by Thomas and Eirich in the final 30 seconds made it 28-14 at the half.
Two foul shots by Eirich made it a 20-point game, 47-27, with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter. The largest lead was 32, the final score, which was nine points shy of the largest victory margin in the series, an 88-47 Fort Hill win in 1997.
Trenton Eirich, feared perhaps to be lost for the season after a faulty early diagnosis of an injured leg and knee, came off the bench with 3:13 left in the first quarter for his first action since Jan. 8. He did not play at Fort Hill.
“When we lost at Fort Hill that night I said we were not going to make excuses and we’re not packing in the season,’’ coach Eirich said. “When we thought Trenton would be out for the year I could sense a change in the kids for the better. They started working harder in practices, and in games, and something just kicked in.”
The Campers likely are a bit stronger and deeper because of having to play without Eirich for five games. They were 4-1 in those five. Jessie, up from the jayvee team, provided another boost last night.
“I have to thank the wisdom of Dr. (Jack) Harvey, and Chris Whiteman for the rehab to get Trent back so quickly. It didn’t matter how many points he scored tonight, the important thing was he played an all-around game. He did. Everybody did.”
Fort Hill won the jayvee game 64-54. Ryan Smith had 17 points, Jacob Painter 14 and Kris Jackson 12 for the Sentinels. Darick Kerns had 20, DaJaun Pendergast 17 and Trevor Evix 11 for the Campers.
Fort Hill also won the freshman game 37-33. Killian Carroll had 12 points for Fort Hill and Jason Copman 21 for Allegany.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at email@example.com