By Matthew Digiacomo
Special to the Tribune
As Superman fans will tell you, Clark Kent had to find a phone booth before he could turn into the Man of Steel. Allegheny’s Clark Tritto just needed to step out of the locker room.
In a showdown with Oberlin on Wednesday, the Gators captured a key 79-75 victory over the Yeomen. And Tritto was a big reason the Gators were able to hold on for the win.
“Clark is playing very, very well for us,” said Allegheny head coach Jim Driggs. “He is kind of a 3.5 man for us — he is not really a forward and not really a guard. But he has a high basketball IQ. He is a good passer, rebounds the ball and shoots the ball well. I am happy he is having some success.”
The junior did a little bit of everything to help his team win. And none of it was loud. Tritto didn’t have the game-altering 3-pointer or the momentum changing dunk. But he did put himself in the right place at the right time and, when he got the ball, knew just what to do with it. The end result: game highs for points (21) and rebounds (14). The junior also dished out four assists, most of them from the high post, an area that gave the Yeomen trouble all night.
“Our plays space the guys out real well,” said Tritto. “(Oberlin was playing a zone and did not cover the high post real well. So I had good time to fins the open man or take my shot.”
The game opened up with a back-and-forth effort that saw eight lead changes and a tie within the first seven-and-a-half minutes. Tritto ended that tango with a 3-pointer to give Allegheny a 17-15 lead. It was the final lead change of the half as the Gators continued on a 10-0 run to open a 24-14 advantage. Marco Corona was key during the spurt, scoring five of the points.
“We really focused on rebounding this past week,” said Tritto. “We were able to keep them from getting second shots and that allowed us to get on a couple runs.”
The Yeomen didn’t go quietly, however.
Led by the inside play of freshman center Randy Ollie, Oberlin slowly cut into the deficit. Ollie only scored four points during the run, but his defensive presence helped the Gators (8-6, 2-3 NCAC) go into a bit of a cold slump. As a result, the Yeomen were able to cut the lead down to just one point at 35-32. That is when the center picked up his third foul and had to go to the bench.
Allegheny took advantage, with a 6-2 run the rest of the way to go into the break with a 41-34 lead.
“Ollie is a heck of a player,” said Driggs. “I don’t like that we have to play against him for three more years. He had a good game, so having to sit on the bench really helped us.”
Oberlin came out firing again in the second half.
The Yeomen opened with a 10-2 run in the first four minutes regain the lead 44-43. That led to a spurt of six straight lead changes, the last coming at the six minute mark. That is when Josh Valentic gave the Gators a 49-48 lead they would never relinquish.
The Allegheny lead grew to as much as 10 (73-63) with 3:35 left in the game. Oberlin again battled back, but Ryan Stanko went 4-for-4 from the free throw line as the Gators hung on for the four-point victory.
“We have to concentrate on rebounding the basketball and taking care of the ball,” said Driggs. “If we can do that and take care of the ball, get a shot each time down, we are going to make shots.”
Valentic tallied 16 points for the Gators, while Corona added 13. Stanko contributed 12 in the win.
Austin Little dropped in 20 for the Yeomen (4-9, 2-3 NCAC), while Ollie added 19. Geoff Simpson tallied 13.