12/22/12 — Cleveland boys turn back Gators

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Cleveland boys turn back Gators

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 22, 2012 11:18 PM

PRINCETON -- Cleveland's boys answered the challenge not once, but twice against pesky Spring Creek on Friday evening.

All-tournament selection Jesse Olmstead collected a game-high 13 points for the Rams, who thwarted two rallies and dealt the Gators a 54-45 defeat in the third-place game of the 2012 Bulldog Christmas Classic.

Cleveland (3-10 overall) halted a four-game skid and improved to 1-3 against Wayne County opposition this season.

"We had a couple of spurts and I thought we played really hard tonight," Spring Creek head coach Taylor Jones said. "The battle was there tonight just like it was yesterday."

The Rams opened the second quarter with a 15-3 run that erased a four-point deficit and created a 28-20 advantage. Eight different players scratched in the scoring column during the second quarter for Cleveland, which saw Spring Creek climb to within 28-25 on Brandon Gonzalez's 3-pointer in transition.

Cleveland led 32-25 at halftime.

Olmstead and Bobby Stenburg, who recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, did the offensive damage early in the third quarter. The duo helped stake the Rams to a 40-26 lead, but the Gators responded with another stirring run that further lifted an already boisterous following of fans.

All-tournament selection Tre Hammonds converted a four-point play after getting fouled and draining a 3-pointer, which highlighted a 17-5 run. Hammonds finished the night with seven points.

Daniel Krentz swished his fourth 3-pointer of the night and Jordan Hicks scored twice, which shaved the deficit to 45-41. After Hammonds drew an offensive foul, Gonzalez scored in transition off Krentz's assist to make it 45-43.

"The first half they pressed us and we got so out of sorts, we didn't know where we were going," Jones said. "The second half, once our guys calmed down and broke it (the press) a few times, we got a few open shots and layups.

"(Then) our guys' confidence went up."

Cleveland countered with a game-clinching 9-2 run. Stenburg and Olmstead combined for eight points, while junior guard Chase Jackson provided one free throw.