Hampton wins 'Clash' at Geneva

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An advertisement for a local electric company hung behind one of the baskets Saturday at Geneva College's Metheny Fieldhouse.

It was fitting.

After Hampton star Ryan Luther put a jolt into his team's opponent for three quarters, two of his teammates turned out the lights on them.

Luther scored 18 points, while Collin Luther and Joey Lafko sparked a huge fourth-quarter run, helping Hampton -- the Post-Gazette's No. 2-ranked WPIAL Class AAAA team -- defeat Class AAA No. 2 Central Valley, 64-45.

Less than 24 hours after Hampton picked up a win against the Shaler Titans, the Talbots (17-1) claimed another at the Coaches vs. Cancer Clash of the Titans, an event that included four other games.

For three quarters, Hampton and Central Valley (14-2) went punch for punch. Ryan Luther scored all of his points in the first 24 minutes, but Central Valley found itself trailing, only 41-40, with just under two minutes left in the third quarter. That's when Hampton threw a haymaker, catching Central Valley off guard with a 21-1 run the next nine minutes to blow the game open.

With a 46-40 lead going into the fourth, Hampton used a 16-1 run to make it 62-41. Collin Luther and Lafko combined to score Hampton's first 14 points of the spurt. Central Valley didn't score its first field goal of the quarter until there was 1:33 left. By that time, Hampton had already pulled its starters.

Lafko finished with 18 points and Collin Luther had 16.

"A number of our guys are able to step up and make some plays. Tonight, Joey and Collin stepped up in the fourth quarter and knocked down some big shots," Hampton coach Joe Lafko said. "This team has demonstrated its ability to win against some very good basketball teams. We just have to continue with that."

Ryan Luther -- a 6-foot-8 guard-forward and Pitt recruit -- was excellent and appeared to be 100 percent in what was his fourth game back after an ankle injury forced him to miss three games.

Luther showed good lift on his jump shot, knocking down two 3-pointers, and finished with 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.

"It was definitely frustrating when the injury happened," he said. "I worked real hard to get back. Even when I got back, I just didn't have the extra step that I normally have, but I think it's finally come around. I'm just feeling more comfortable out there right now."

Central Valley looked comfortable against Hampton. The Warriors' only lead was 2-0, but they stayed within striking distance for most of the game. The score was tied, 32-32, in the early stages of the third quarter, but after two Ryan Luther free throws, the Talbots held the lead from there on out.

Central Valley had most of its success attacking the basket. Matt Kline, a 6-8 center, scored a team-high 17 points and didn't back down from Ryan Luther. Guards Tony Gates (11 points) and Michael Sims (9 points) were able to slash through the lane for high-percentage shots.

"[Kline] was going against a 6-8 kid who was quicker, a little more athletic and has a little more skill, but Matt played him as hard as he could and did an excellent job," Central Valley coach Brandon Ambrose said.

The Warriors had their nine-game winning streak snapped. Their only other loss was Dec. 21 against Obama Academy.

Hampton's lone blemish was Jan. 14 against New Castle.

"They're very, very good, but we have to finish," Ambrose said. "I was proud of our effort, but we need to do better in the fourth quarter and finish the game."

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