C.H. West ends long drought

C.H. West's Can Oztamur is hemmed in by Clearview's Adam Herman (left) and Mark Wilhelm.
C.H. West's Can Oztamur is hemmed in by Clearview's Adam Herman (left) and Mark Wilhelm. (RON CORTES / Staff)
Posted: March 06, 2014

Hamasi Tarrant was in first grade.

None of his players were born.

That's how long it had been since Cherry Hill West won a boys' basketball game in the state tournament.

"1988," Tarrant, the Lions' coach, said after Cherry Hill West's 43-34 victory at Clearview in the first round of the South Jersey Group 4 tournament on Tuesday night.

That was when the Lions had last won a tournament game - in 1988.

That was 26 years ago.

"I'm so happy for us," Cherry Hill West junior forward Can Oztamur said. "We talked about it a lot before the game."

Oztamur, a 6-foot-5 athlete with unique skills and a superior feel for the game, carried ninth-seeded Cherry Hill West past eighth-seeded Clearview with a strong performance in the fourth quarter.

Oztamur finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists.

He was at his best when it mattered most, scoring 10 in the fourth quarter. His three-point play broke the ninth and final tie of the game and gave Cherry Hill West a 33-30 lead with 2 minutes, 35 seconds to play.

"That was the killer," Clearview coach Tom Gross said of Oztamur's fadeaway jumper along the baseline and free throw.

Danny Buckwalter added nine points for Cherry Hill West (15-12), which advanced to face top-seeded Cherry Hill East on Tuesday.

Cherry Hill East advanced earlier in the day with a 63-27 win over 16th-seeded Absegami. Many of the Cougars along with head coach Dave Allen were in the stands for West's game against Clearview.

"It's always special when we play them," Tarrant said of the East-West rivalry. "It's like a family gathering."

Dan Brown and Sterling Sheffield scored 10 each for Clearview (13-11).

West's stingy defense limited Clearview to 20 points through the first three quarters. The Pioneers, who have been one of South Jersey's most effective three-point shooting teams, didn't make a shot from beyond the arc.

"That was our focus," Tarrant said of the extended defense. "The kids bought in."

Gross said Clearview has one player with 70 three-pointers this season and another with 45.

"We're a jump-shooting team, and the last three games we've shot worse and worse," Gross said. "I don't know if it's tired legs at the end of the season."

Oztamur controlled the game at the other end of the floor, especially late. He made three nifty passes to Buckwalter for layups. He was 8 for 9 from the foul line. He hit a short jumper off the move with 0:01 left in the second quarter to send West into the locker room with an 18-16 lead.

But his best work came in the fourth quarter. His 16-foot jumper from the wing with 3 minutes, 10 seconds left produced a 30-28 lead. His three-point play with 2:35 left made it 33-30. He was 5 for 6 from the foul line in the last 0:45 as the Lions sealed the victory.

"He's such a rare player," Gross said. "He has something that you very rarely see in a high school player, and that's a good mid-range game with a guy on him. He hits shots with people hanging on his arms.

"He's really rare. I'm not sure I've ever seen a player like him."

Cherry Hill West 12 6 6 19 – 43

Clearview 6 10 4 14 – 34

CHW: Can Oztamur 18, Elijah Bey 7, Dan Buckwalter 9, Adriel Bustinera 1, Jack Goan 6, Nick Krake 2.

C: Dan Brown 10, Sterling Sheffield 10, Gavin Bright 4, Mike Heim 4, Adam Herman 6.

robrien@phillynews.com

@ozoneinq

www.inquirer.com/ozone

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