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Sebring subdues Clippers

By Eric Hamilton

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Trojans avenged their only loss of the season.
SEBRING -- Sebring's David Scarpitti doesn't say much on the basketball court.
He doesn't make a behind-the-back pass when a simple bounce pass will do. In fact, he doesn't do much of anything that might bring attention to himself. He doesn't have to.
All Scarpitti does is whatever it takes to make sure the Trojans win. If that means hitting a game-winning shot, fine. If it's scoring five points, but handing out a dozen assists, that works, too.
Playing in the last home game of his high school career, Scarpitti again did a little bit of everything and lifted Sebring to a 62-47 victory over Columbiana Friday night.
The win avenged Sebring's only loss of the season, which came at the hands of the Clippers back on Jan. 28. The Trojans were ranked No. 1 in the state at the time.
"All we ever try to do is out-execute the other team," said Scarpitti. "We play defense first and that leads to offense. We shut Columbiana out in the third quarter, went on a big scoring run and put them away.
"I'm never out there thinking I have to score. I can contribute in so many other ways to help us win," he added. "We have so many guys capable of having big scoring nights. I just try to do all the little things, which can prove big in the end."
Good defense
At Sebring, one of the little things is playing tough defense, something the Trojans have been doing all season.
This year's team has a motto: Offense brings crowds, but defense wins championships.
Sebring has not allowed over 49 points in a game all season. The Trojans kept that streak alive against the Clippers, thanks to a suffocating defensive effort in the third quarter.
All Sebring did was outscore the Clippers 20-0 in the third to turn a 24-all contest at halftime into a 44-24 Sebring lead after three quarters. Columbiana never recovered.
"Coach [Rick] Brook's trademark was defense and I preach the same style," explained Sebring (18-1, 13-1) coach Brian Clark. "These kids buy into that philosophy because they know they are playing in one of the best programs in Ohio.
"This team is on pace to be the best defensive team in school history."
Stepping up
While Sebring's defense took center stage in the third quarter, Dan Scarpitti carried the load offensively. The junior scored 22 of his game-high 26 points in the second half to make sure Columbiana had no chance of coming back.
"Dan really heated up for us in that third quarter," said Clark. "His scoring and our adjustments on defense allowed us to make a big move and win the race to 50 points."
Sebring's biggest lead was 21 points, at the start of the fourth quarter. Columbiana made a quick run to cut the deficit to 12 (48-36) with 3:03 left, but the Clippers got no closer.
"We had one bad quarter and you can't do that against a team as good as Sebring," said Columbiana (12-8, 8-6) coach Jeff Hammond. "They hit some shots in the third quarter and we couldn't get anything to fall. We kept playing hard, but the hole was too deep to climb out of."
David Scarpitti finished with 12 points, five assists, three rebounds and one steal. Joe James added 11 points, while Matt Ferguson turned in a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Austin Couchenour and David Cramer each scored 16 points to pace Columbiana.