Ogletree-led Clairton topples No. 4 Greensburg Central Catholic

Friday, February 7, 2020 | 9:26 PM

In many ways, the deck seemed stacked against Clairton on Friday.

The Bears had lost two in a row, including a 45-point loss to Leechburg three days ago. Plus, Kanye Hawkins, Clairton’s starting center, was injured and not available against No. 4 Greensburg Central Catholic, the top team in Section 3-A.

But none of that mattered.

Clairton was tougher on the court, playing with relentless energy and pestering defense to beat Greensburg Central Catholic, 58-49.

“We know if we just come out with effort, our defense is fine. We have a lot of long, athletic guys, strong kids,” Clairton coach Matt Geletko said. “If we just play the right way, we’re in good shape, and that’s what we reiterated to the guys the last couple days.”

Earlier in the season, Clairton took the Centurions down to the wire, losing 66-65. It served as a confidence booster, but also as motivation, senior guard Kenlein Ogletree said. This time, the Bears talked about finishing the deal.

Athletes such as Ogletree, Brendan Parsons and Don Napper stepped up, whether it was jumping a passing lane or denying a shot at the rim.

The Bears came alive in the second quarter. Trailing 13-6 after the first, Clairton flipped it around, taking a 25-23 lead into halftime after Wayne Wade drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“I think it was the defense turning into offense,” Geletko said. “We were getting some steals, getting some rebounds and getting into transition.”

Clairton (13-8, 10-4) continued its momentum into the second half, going on an 8-3 run in the first three minutes to take a 33-26 lead. A transition layup by Jonte Sanders prompted a timeout by the Centurions.

“That was a confidence booster, for sure,” Ogletree said. “We usually come out weak, and then go strong. But we came out strong and stayed strong.”

Ogletree proved to be big for Clairton in the second half, hitting shots when the Bears needed them most. He hit a 3-pointer with a minute left in the quarter to break a four-minute scoring drought. Ogletree finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

“Kenlein can score in a bunch of different ways. He can score inside, outside. He’s all over the place,” Geletko said. “He can get out there and do a lot of stuff.”

Clairton took a five-point lead into the fourth quarter, bumping it up to 11 at one point. The Centurions scored just one point in the first three minutes of the quarter, as Clairton’s defense held tough.

Greensburg Central Catholic (16-5, 12-2) tried to press Clairton over the last five minutes, but the Bears held strong. The closest GCC would get is when the deficit was cut to four with 30 seconds left. Ogletree, though, madetwo free throws to quash any comeback thoughts.

“They didn’t back down,” Ogletree said. “We just played harder than them and outplayed them.”

Playoff-bound Clairton will play a nonsection game against Elizabeth Forward on Monday before the pairings are announced Tuesday.

“We battled and played tough,” Geletko said. “We feel like if we play like we know how we can play, we can play with anybody.”

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