COPLEY TWP: Low-scoring nail-biters. Last-second dramatic finishes. Overtimes.
Enough of that noise, said Nordonia.
In a tournament that had all of the above in abundance, Nordonia put it all together Saturday night with a 66-48 victory over Hudson for the championship of the Copley Division I district.
It was as convincing as it was unexpected. Instead of a down-to-the-wire battle, Nordonia (22-4) ran away from the Explorers in a game that was close only in the first quarter.
The Knights advance to a regional semifinal against Brecksville at 7 p.m. Wednesday at University of Akron’s Rhodes Arena.
“We came in ready, we had a good week of practice and I knew this was going to happen,” Nordonia’s Chris Scott said. “We worked too hard, too hard to lose.”
Nobody outworked Scott, a 6-foot-7 senior, who had a game-high 22 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. He also made 10-of-10 free throws and altered or redirected many of Hudson’s shots near the basket.
Hudson (20-5), fueled by a 13-game win streak, jumped to a 10-2 lead before the Knights got rolling. Back-to-back 3-point shots by senior Nick Piotrowski keyed a 13-4 run that put Nordonia ahead 15-14 after one quarter.
Scott grabbed seven rebounds in the second quarter as the Knights outscored Hudson 15-4 for a 30-18 halftime lead.
“We weathered the storm,” said Piotrowski, who scored 11 points. “They got a run early but it was too early. We just came together as a team and pulled through and ended up blowing them out.”
With nine points from Scott, Nordonia enjoyed a 15-5 advantage in the third quarter for a 45-23 lead. The Knights led by as much as 64-36 in the fourth. Damoen Luster scored the Knights’ final two baskets of the third quarter on identical steals and breakaway slam dunks that revved up the excited and loud Nordonia cheering section.
“Yeah, I had to do it for my fans,” said Luster, a 6-2 senior who scored 12 points. “I just wanted to make sure my whole team got hyped after it so we could keep the lead up.”
Hudson was held to 18-of-51 shooting and didn’t make a 3-pointer until the fourth quarter. Senior Zack Brandy led the Explorers with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Ben Gedeon, a muscular 6-3 senior who will be a linebacker at the University of Michigan in the fall, added 12 points.
Nordonia survived a 41-40 overtime victory over Brunswick on Wednesday, following a 74-69 victory over Cuyahoga Falls.
“We haven’t shot the ball real well in the tournament,” Nordonia coach Matt Cash said, “and tonight we shot. We came out — Hudson’s a great team.
“They won 13 in a row for a reason. They came out on fire, we called a timeout and got the guys refocused in. And then we started knocking our shots down and our tempo and our pressure the way we want to play and they played with us, which is great. A lot of teams want to slow it down and they wanted to go.”
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