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Schmit becomes important contributor in success of Clarence hoops

On a Clarence High School basketball team with weapons galore inside and out, sophomore Tanner Schmit might not get a whole lot of looks. But when the sophomore center gets his hands on the basketball, he knows his team needs him to put the ball where it belongs ­— in the basket.

That’s been going much better lately and the results are showing on the court and on the scoreboard.

“I’m a lot happier with how I’ve been finishing,” he said. “I need to keep working hard at finishing; finish inside when we need it.”

Schmit has averaged 7.6 points per game for the Red Devils. He has reached double-figures four times and Clarence is 4-0 in those games.

His services were needed in a Jan. 3 showdown at Williamsville North and he delivered with one of the defensive plays of the season. With Clarence up a point in the final seconds, Spartans’ standout Sterling Taplin drove towards the basket looking for the winning score. But Schmit blocked the shot, hustled to the loose ball and dished it off to teammate Bryan Jost, one of Clarence’s top free throw shooters.

The Red Devils held on for the statement-making 77-76 victory.

“That was huge to come in here and win by one point,” Schmit said after the game. “We came out and showed them that we can play. Everyone’s always talking about North and Jamestown and they’re good teams. But it’s good to show we can play with them.”

The scorebook showed Schmit finished with 10 points - one of five Red Devils in double figures. But his play inside was one of a number of things for Clarence that improved vastly from the first meeting, a 67-44 North win less than three weeks earlier.

“It was a big night for him, he finished inside,” Clarence coach Todd Banaszak said. “The first time, he didn’t finish that much inside.”

After growing up in the Clarence program, Schmit went to Nichols for his freshman season and was a key contributor for the Vikings. But he came back to the Red Devils for this season and Clarence is enjoying his return.

“I’m happy to be back,” he said with a smile.


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