PALMYRA TWP.: Mogadore used a variety of man-to-man defenses and quality scoring nights from four players to beat Southeast 52-44 on the road Friday night and secure its 12th consecutive victory.
Mogadore (17-5, 10-2) will enter its sectional tournament game with Canton Heritage Christian on Tuesday as one of the hottest teams in the area. Even more telling than the 12-game winning streak is that the Wildcats are now 11-0 and still unbeaten with juniors Eddie Pearce and Dominik Pizzino in the lineup. Both transferred this season from Green and had to sit out the team’s first 11 games.
As soon as they were allowed to play in games per OHSAA rules, Mogadore’s rotation players adjusted and the Wildcats haven’t lost since.
“That’s a credit to our guys who are playing; they’ve accepted them and more importantly they’ve started to accept their roles,” Mogadore coach Russ Swartz said. “Everybody has started to accept their roles. We’ve beaten some good teams the second half of the year. We’re jelling, and that’s a credit to the kids.”
Mogadore molded itself into a team without a star, often relying on quality performances from a deep rotation rather than a 20-point scorer each night. It’s remained consistent and has been the biggest factor behind the streak, said Swartz.
“It’s been a number of things, but the number of things equate to team basketball,” he said. “We’re unselfish. We do a good job of playing together. We spread it around. And when we spread it around, that’s when we’re at our best.”
That’s what the Wildcats were able to do Friday night. Freshman Jarad Dunn led the team with 12 points and five rebounds, including a two-handed dunk in the final seconds that served as an exclamation point on the game and winning streak. Pizzino added 11 points and eight rebounds. And junior Alec Tarter and Pearce each added eight points.
Mogadore had a decided height advantage over Southeast (six players listed at 6-foot-2 or taller for Mogadore compared to one for Southeast) and was able to exploit it, moving the ball around and dumping it into the low post.
“We tried to spread the floor and penetrate and dump it in to our big guys and have them get some rebounds,” Swartz said. “But Southeast did a really good job of blocking out and that hurt us in the first half.”
The Pirates led for much of that first half and remained within one possession through three quarters, when Mogadore entered the fourth quarter leading 34-31. The Wildcats’ man defense finally found some traction and kept Southeast off the board for five minutes, in which time Mogadore went on a 9-0 run, highlighted by Tarter’s two 3-pointers.
Southeast was led by senior Jordan Krych, who had a game-high 25 points and seven rebounds. Trailing 46-34 with 2:33 to play, Krych scored the final 10 points for Southeast and at one point had the Pirates within six, 48-42, and with the ball. But a missed shot, a free throw by Tarter and Dunn’s dunk sealed the game.
Southeast senior Kenny Dillon added 14 points.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.