By STEVE PATTERSON

For Public Opinion

SHIPPENSBURG - Ray Staver is still waiting for the Shippensburg boys basketball team to get in gear. The Greyhounds sure didn't look very good Thursday night even in a win.

Senior forward Tyrell Kater scored 12 points and had five rebounds, helping Shippensburg hold off the pesky Annville-Cleona Dutchmen 56-40 in the opening round of the Hounds Invitational Tournament.

The Greyhounds, who won for the fourth time in five tries, will face Susquehanna Township in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Friday, while Annville-Cleona will play Greater Johnstown in a 6 pm. consolation.

"It wasn't a pretty game; there was nothing pretty about it at all," Staver said. "We were coming off three games last week, we had an hour of practice two nights last week, we took off Saturday and Sunday, Monday we practiced, Tuesday was Christmas, and because of the snow we had to shorten things up yesterday afternoon. The good news is we were on the winning end of things. But now we get a real challenge."

Tony Johnson added 10 points off the bench for Shippensburg, which struggled despite shooting 45.2 percent (19-of-42) from the field. Sophomore guards Bryce Hastings and Cordell Shannon each scored six points, while Reid Singhas had only seven, but contributed in other ways, finishing with 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.

Staver said, "Our bench gave us some real quality minutes. I didn't think our starters had a lot of fire or energy, so I think they (the bench) gave us a big pick-me-up halfway through first quarter, then again in the second quarter and the second half."

Paxson Hayes and Casey Smith both scored 12 points, but it wasn't enough to prevent the third straight loss for the Dutchmen (3-5). Annville-Cleona shot just 24.4 percent, including 3-for-16 from beyond the arc, but converted 17 of 21 free throws to stay in the game.

"Our kids really get after it," Dutchmen coach Justin Edwards said. "I think we defend very well. They play tough and they play strong but when you give up a second shot and that possession turns into two, then two and a half minutes - there's going to be a breakdown sooner or later. Obviously, if we could limit teams to just one shot we would be more successful."

The Hounds, who limited the Dutchmen to just one field goal through the game's first 10 minutes, led 19-9 with about three minutes to play in the half. After A-C got to 19-12, Austin Springer hit a long 3-pointer, launching an 8-0 run that gave Shippensburg a 15-point cushion at the break.

The Dutchmen managed to pull within nine points four different times in the second half - the last with 3:24 left to play - but couldn't complete the upset.

Edwards said, "We put ourselves in a big hole again tonight - we've done it in the past - and we just don't have that instant offense where we can dig ourselves back out quickly. We don't have a 12-point shot, so until we do, it's going to be a grind."

The Greyhounds closed out the contest on an 11-4 run with seven of those points coming from the free throw line. Shippensburg finished 15 of 29 from the charity stripe and held a commanding 33-21 edge on the boards, including a 13-5 advantage on the offensive glass.

"Our size was a definite advantage," Staver said. "I thought the foul situation in the first half was pretty good in our favor, but I told the kids at halftime not to expect that to be the same in the second half. We also did a nice job of finding their shooters - our 1-3-1 has worked well for us all season."

NOTES: Joe Marshall scored 15 points to lead Susquehanna Township to an 82-35 victory against Johnstown in the other matchup Damean Barfield had nine points for the Trojans ... Shannon hit two 3's - his second just beating the buzzer ending the third period to put Ship ahead 37-25 ... The Hounds' bench outscored the Annville-Cleona reserves 20-4.

Shippensburg 56

Annville-Cleona 40

ANNVILLE-CLEONA

Paxson Hayes 4-7 4-5 12, Casey Smith 2-11 6-6 12, Derrick Sanders 1-6 4-5 6, Adam Connor 1-4 1-2 4, Trenton Wizar 1-2 2-3 4, Zach Weaber 1-8 0-0 2, Tyler Speraw 0-2 0-0 0, Matt Light 0-1 0-0 0, Noah Connor 0-0 0-0 0, Finn Hermanson 0-0 0-0 0, Christian Kreamer 0-0 0-0 0, Richmond Owusua 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-41 17-21 40.

SHIPPENSBURG

Tyrell Kater 4-6 4-7 12, Tony Johnson 4-7 2-5 10, Reid Singhas 3-7 1-4 7, Britton Hastings 3-5 0-0 6, Cordell Shannon 2-3 0-0 6, Bryce Hastings 0-3 6-8 6, Mac Miller 2-6 1-1 5, Austin Springer 1-2 1-2 4, Clinton Bake 0-1 0-0 0, Seth Frey 0-1 0-0 0, Spencer Van Scyoc 0-1 0-0 0, Jeremy Wray 0-0 0-2 0, Nate Thrush 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-42 15-29 56.

Annville-Cleona 5 7 13 15 - 40

Shippensburg 10 17 10 19 - 56

3-point shots - AC 3-16 (Smith 2, A.Connor); Ship 3-9 (Shannon 2, Springer). Shooting - AC 24.4%; Ship 45.2%. Rebounds - AC 21 (Sanders 7); Ship 33 (Singhas 11). Assists - AC 6 (Hayes 3); Ship 9 (Singhas 3). Steals - AC 7 (A.Connor 3); Ship 7 (Johnson 2). Blocked shots - AC 1 (Weaber); Ship 5 (Singhas 3). Turnovers - AC 14; Ship 16. Fouls - AC 22; Ship 17. Technical fouls - Ship bench. Fouled out - Weaber; Kater.

Next game: Friday, vs. Susquehanna Township in Hound Invitational championship, 7:30.