Nordonia 74, Cuyahoga Falls 69
When the whistle blew, Cuyahoga Falls coach Rob Slone thought his team was going to the free-throw line with five seconds remaining to try to cut Nordonia’s lead to one.
Instead, the Black Tigers were just given possession of the ball.
Then, after a brief meeting of the officials, it was Nordonia going to the line.
“I’ve never had an official overturn a call that late in a game,” Slone said. “There have been times that I thought they didn’t make the appropriate call, but never overturned.”
With nine seconds remaining in a Copley Division I sectional final and Nordonia leading 72-69, the Knights had trouble inbounding and the ball was heaved to senior guard Nick Piotrowski.
Tigers guard Josh Ricker was on him and the two collided in a jump ball at half court, knocking the ball toward the sideline. The two scrambled toward the ball and dove for it, knocking it out of bounds. It was originally ruled the Tigers’ basketball before the call was overturned to send Piotrowski to the line.
He made both free throws to seal the win for Nordonia (20-3).
“My guys showed heart tonight,” Nordonia coach Matt Cash said. “I challenged them at halftime. I told them they were better than this and that they had to get mentally focused. They came out in the second half [and] played the tempo we wanted to play.”
Chris Scott, a 6-foot-7 senior center, led the Knights with 20 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
He was matched up against Tigers junior forward Angelo Cugini, also 6-7. He finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and two steals.
Cugini, a transfer from St. Vincent-St. Mary, plays more of a perimeter game, presenting a challenge for Scott.
“Most games we play Chris inside and he doesn’t have to play defense out on the perimeter,” Cash said. “We challenged him today. We told him he had to get his butt out on the perimeter, move his feet and play good defense. We’re proud of the way he handled it.”
The Knights led 16-13 after the first quarter, but the Tigers (13-11) took the lead early in the second quarter and held it until there was 5:25 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The two teams traded baskets until the Tigers led 59-58 with 2:30 remaining.
It was then the Knights staged an 11-0 run that ultimately decided the outcome of the game. Five players scored during the run.
“We got to 19-3 and were Suburban League champs because we play like a team,” Cash said. “Our last game we played like individuals worrying about ourselves. That 11-0 run signified that we play like a team.”
Piotrowski finished with 19 points. Sophomore guard Alex Alders scored 10 fourth-quarter points and finished with 16. Ricker led the Tigers in scoring with 23 points.
Nordonia will face Brunswick in a district semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Brunswick 50, Walsh Jesuit 42
The Blue Devils held the Warriors to just 11 first-half points in the other sectional final.
“That was old-school Brunswick defense,” Brunswick coach Joe Mackey said.
Junior guards Zach Parker (19 points) and Ryan Badowski (15) led the Blue Devils (14-10).
“Everyone has asked me what it’s going to be like getting Ryan back [from injury],” Mackey said. “I think we found out tonight how important he is to our team.”
Freshman Mitch Peterson and senior Mike Mittiga led the Warriors (15-8) with nine points.
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