MECHANICSBURG — Mechanicsburg coach Bob Strickler had the Cedar Cliff Colts right where he wanted them in the first quarter.
Cedar Cliff’s top scorers Patrick Wiestling and Gerald Jarmon III each had two fouls and were on the bench. The Colts trailed 9-6, but Justin Gause stepped up for the Colts while the Wildcats offense went silent. Gause and Chris Dare split 10 points in the quarter and the Colts cruised to a 46-33 victory at Mechanicsburg on Wednesday night.
“Justin has been playing for three years and he knows what he needs to do on this team,” Colts coach Tigh Savercool said. “We have to do a better job of coming out ready to play on both ends of the floor. We need to get better on defense if we want to play into March.”
Cedar Cliff (10-5, 7-2 Keystone) remains two games back in the loss column behind Hershey (12-1, 8-0) for the division lead, with Lower Dauphin (9-3, 6-2) right behind.
Caleb Everett scored for the Wildcats shortly before the first quarter ended, but no one got back on defense and Tommy Reilly took it the length of the court for a buzzer-beating layup.
Cedar Cliff went on a 7-2 run to open the second quarter, but the Wildcats (3-12, 1-8) cut into the deficit with a Tyler Gelnett 3-pointer and a jumper.
Gause hit a 3 to open the second half, but the Wildcats went on a five-point run to cut the Colts’ lead to 25-20. However, it was as close as Mechanicsburg would get the rest of the game after a turnover and Wiestling 3-ball from the corner ended the threat.
Wiestling started a seven-point run that began late in the third quarter and ended early in the fourth. Jarmon then banked home a trey at the buzzer in the middle of that run. Gause scored in the paint to open the fourth and cap the run.
Strickler chose not to foul the Colts down the stretch, and Wiestling’s 3-pointer gave the Colts their largest lead at 46-29.
“We played hard and I want to give our kids credit for that,but there were stretches where we didn’t play smart with the ball,” Strickler said. “We held a very good team to 46 points, but they just kept the lead far enough. We weren’t trying to hold the ball, but we weren’t looking to shoot the ball at times either. We just need to keep playing hard and hoping one of these nights our shooters all show up.”
Gause led the Colts with 15, Wiestling added 12 and Dare scored seven. Jarmon added six in a low-scoring game for him. It’s just his third game with less than 10 points since joining Cedar Cliff this season; Jarmon is averaging 16.0 points per game.
Gavin Gossage and Everett led the Wildcats with 10 points each. Gossage added seven rebounds.