Talford leads Conrad Weiser to OT win vs. Red Lion

ROBESONIA>> Cartier Talford, in the end, was not going to be denied an ending befitting of his night.

The Conrad Weiser senior guard was a force of nature Thursday night, scoring 39 points — including 19 of his team’s first 21 points — in a thrilling and sloppy 65-63 overtime win against Red Lion. The non-conference matchup ended the regular season for both teams.

The loss will likely cost Red Lion (currently ranked 15th) a home court in the preliminary round of the District 3 Class AAAA playoffs, while the win gives the Scouts (10th) an outside shot at catching Eastern in the Class AAA field.

Tied at 58, Red Lion (13-9) had a chance to win it at the buzzer in regulation, but Wyatt Tyson’s layup attempt on an inbounds pass under the basket jammed against the iron. Tyson scored 23 points to lead the Lions.

It was exciting, but extraordinarily sloppy, basketball. The two teams combined for 33 turnovers, with Red Lion committing 15 of them. But Conrad Weiser veteran head coach Mike Brown will take it.

“Oh yeah, we’re going to do a lot a ball secure drills at Saturday’s practice,” Brown said. “Be strong with it. Sometimes we have a little bit of panic mode. And we shouldn’t. They’re a good team. We’ve got to clean up the turnovers. That was a disaster.”

The Scouts picked up their 15th win in 22 tries on the back of Talford, who was basically the entire offense for the hosts in the first half, scoring 23 of his team’s 30 points.

Talford had 16 points by the end of the first quarter; scored 17 consecutive points for Weiser during a five-minute span bridging the first and second quarters. He drained what turned out to be the winning free throws with seven ticks left in overtime.

It was a change of pace for the senior, who went for 41 and 40 in consecutive games over the holidays but had started slow, he said, the past couple of games.

“For the last couple of games I’ve been coming out slow,” Talford said. “I’ve been coming on the second half. Today, I said, ‘Let’s do it in the first half,’ so I was really focused today.”

Red Lion was able to stay in the game thanks to a more balanced effort at its end, although it took a while for the engine to warm up.

The Lions did not take their first lead of the evening until Tyson converted a layup and a free throw with 2:13 to play in the third quarter, a sequence that put the visitors on top, 40-39. It was a slow slog to get there.

“We were going to continue to fight,” Red Lion head coach Steve Schmehl said. “I don’t know if it was the long bus trip or what, but when you come on the road against a good team, you’ve got to be ready to play. You dig yourself a 10, 12-point hole, it’s tough to come back. You expend so much energy trying to get back into the game, it’s hard to get over the hump.”

A tactical switch defensively at halftime helped the Lions do that.

Switching to a 1-3-1 zone in the second half — basically abandoning hopes of guarding Talford straight up — the Lions were able to confuse the Scouts, and it paid huge dividends. Schmehl’s crew outscored Weiser 22-16 in third quarter while holding Talford to three points.

“I wasn’t getting open in the paint,” he said. “We were lost. We hadn’t played against the 1-3-1. It was our first time seeing that. So we got confused and had to take some time outs. But we finally got it.

Weiser readjusted by moving Talford back on the wings, where he was more comfortable on the ball. He found the space to create and reignited his game.

Red Lion held a 47-46 lead after three, thanks to Ryan Schreckengast’s 3-pointer from the corner. But Conrad Weiser cobbled together a late run inside two minutes, helped by a technical foul call on Jason Rebuck on top of foul call with 1:52 left in regulation. The Scouts hit two of four free throws and kept possession for a 57-56 edge.

Tyson gave the Lions a 58-57 lead on a layup before a foul call sent Talford to the line with 10 seconds on the clock. He hit one of two to tie the score at 58 and send it to the extra session.

Talford fouled out with 0.2 seconds to play in overtime on a 3-ball attempt by Red Lion’s Stone McCreary. McCreary hit the first two freebies and intentionally missed the third. The toss was swatted away under the basket by Weiser to preserve the victory.

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