NORTON: Any worries Green basketball coach Mark Kinsley might have had about a two-game losing streak were put to rest quickly Tuesday night at Norton.
Green was hoping to rebound from a two-point loss to visiting Nordonia on Friday night, and did just that in a 66-55 nonleague victory.
Kinsley and his staff constantly encourage their players to pass the ball on offense and defend, and on this night the Bulldogs displayed both.
Dan Fanelly, a 6-foot-6 senior, led the Bulldogs (11-1) over a different-looking Panthers (11-3) team with 19 points before subbing out with his fellow starters with a 63-36 lead with 6:26 to go in the fourth quarter.
“We came out and knew that Norton has a very good team, but we also knew that they were a little short-handed tonight,” Kinsley said. “I thought we did a good job sharing the ball and getting good shots.”
Norton played without 6-6 junior Aaron Van Buskirk and 6-4 senior Matt McGlone.
“Aaron has been dismissed from the team for personal reasons and Matt got stitches following an injury in Friday night’s game [against Kent Roosevelt],” Norton coach Rod Swartz said. “Hopefully we have him back on Friday [at Ravenna].”
Van Buskirk was averaging about 16 points and eight rebounds per game.
The host Panthers jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but the Bulldogs rallied and led 19-13 after one quarter, 41-21 at halftime and 59-33 after three quarters.
“That was definitely a tough loss [Friday], but we all knew we had to jump back in because we have six important league games coming up,” Fanelly said. “We have to be ready to go. We wanted to focus on defense and get back into the swing of playing solid defense. We play at Highland on Friday.”
Green 6-2 senior Eddie Janini added 14 points and 6-2 sophomore Austin Marciniak contributed 12 points. Both grabbed five rebounds.
“I liked how we moved the ball around and spread out our offense,” Janini said. “We capitalized when we got our looks. It really starts at the defensive end. When we play good defense, we can get out and run and score. That is our MO.”
Bulldogs’ 6-0 junior Nicholas Reale contributed four points, six assists and five rebounds.
“We try to come out every game and step up,” Reale said. “If one guy doesn’t play well, then someone else does. We all play together as a team.”
Green also received solid efforts from 6-1 junior Carson Corle, 6-8 senior Josh Pritchard and 6-1 sophomore Kenton Keeslar.
“We were very balanced,” Kinsley said. “That was the big key. We preach to share the ball, especially tonight against their zone [defense]. We wanted to move the ball and share it. I thought we had some great possessions where we made seven or eight passes. Guys were passing up good shots for one extra pass to get a great shot.”
Junior Justin Blanks paced Norton with 18 points and junior Dakota Pratt had 13 points and eight rebounds. Senior Tyler Sherman and junior Jay Ventura both scored nine points.
“Physically and mentally, we are trying to deal with a lot of adversity that was really handed our way in recent days,” Swartz said. “This was a tough test for us. Green is a great team. We knew going in with a full squad this would be a good contest for us, but unfortunately things happen in life and you have to learn to deal with adversity. That is where we are at right now with our team. Hopefully we can get it back together and finish strong the rest of the year, be there for one another and pick each other up. For teenagers to handle what was thrown at us in a short amount of time is a tough situation.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.