BARBERTON: Mogadore’s 14-game winning steak and season came to an end Monday night, as the Wildcats came up short in a 55-52 loss against Garfield Heights Trinity in a Division IV district semifinal at Barberton High School.
Mogadore (20-5) hadn’t lost since junior transfers Eddie Pearce and Dominik Pizzino, both from Green High School, joined the team and gained eligibility. But a few defensive mistakes and a 3-point flurry from Trinity senior Cory Haire in the third quarter was enough to overtake the Wildcats, who battled back from an 11-point deficit but ultimately ran out of time.
“That’s a great accomplishment for any team,” Mogadore coach Russ Swartz said of the 14-game winning streak. “And we’re excited for what we have ahead of us. I just feel bad for our senior guys. Basketball is a grind, a four-year grind, and for it to come to an end like this, it hurts those guys and it’s tough.”
Mogadore fell behind 36-25 in the third quarter behind three 3-pointers from Haire (22 points). Wildcats sophomore Zeddie Pollock (16 points) answered with back-to-back 3-pointers of his own, and then another jumper as he drove to the lane, to cut the Trinity advantage down to 38-35 entering the fourth quarter.
Mogadore continued to chip away at Trinity’s lead through the fourth quarter — on one play with 3:30 remaining, three Wildcats ended up on the floor, diving for a loose ball. That play eventually ended with senior Casey Ruppel (14 points, five rebounds, three steals) throwing it off of a Trinity defender and out-of-bounds. Pollock then found some space, drove inside and got a running jumper to fall to tie the game 44-44.
After Trinity senior Jake Gerrick (18 points) was fouled and hit a free throw, Pizzino drove to his right and got a layup to fall to give Mogadore a 46-45 lead with 2:45 to go.
Gerrick then delivered the big blow with just over a minute left in the game on a circus-style layup that gave the Trojans a 47-46 lead and that Swartz said Mogadore “never recovered from.”
The Wildcats’ next possession included two failed 3-point attempts, and two more free throws gave Trinity a 51-46 lead. Ruppel nailed a quick 3-pointer with 25 seconds left, but Haire and Gerrick were fouled on consecutive possessions and made both free throws. Ruppel then made another 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 55-52, though the clock had already ran out on Mogadore’s season.
“We had chances,” Swartz said. “We had a couple open looks to take the lead or tie the score. We battled for loose balls, gave us some more opportunities. But their guys stepped up and made free throws. This is all a part of the learning process kids go through.”
Freshman Jared Dunn had 13 points, four rebounds and three blocks for Mogadore.
Richmond Heights 44, Kidron Central Christian 41
Kidron Central Christian took Richmond Heights into overtime but couldn’t come out with a win, falling 44-41 Monday night.
Central Christian senior Josh Woodrich (game-high 19 points) hit a 3-pointer early in the overtime period to give the Comets a 41-40 lead, their last of the night.
Richmond quickly answered with a layup by Dontez Lockett to take a 42-41 lead.
The Comets had a final try with 11.5 seconds left, but the inbound pass was tipped and after a scramble, Central Christian was unable to get a shot off before the final buzzer. Richmond Heights will face Trinity in the district final Thursday night.
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.