MACEDONIA: Nordonia senior Eugene Coleman prides himself on bringing “energy and effort” to the basketball court.
Coleman’s play brought a smile to the face of Knights coach Matt Cash on Tuesday night when host Nordonia defeated Walsh Jesuit 71-61 in a nonleague game between two teams atop their respective conferences.
Coleman scored 13 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots to lead the Knights (14-2, 9-0 Suburban League) over the Warriors (11-4, 6-0 North Coast League).
He was far from the Knights’ only contributor. Nick Piotrowski, a 6-foot senior guard, added 18 points, four assists and three rebounds, and 6-6 senior center Chris Scott added 14 points and four blocks.
“We all just have to play hard and play with effort,” said Coleman, a 6-4 forward. “We knew they were a tough opponent and we had to come out here and fight.”
Nordonia led 15-13 after one quarter and maintained the lead for much of the game. The Knights advantage grew to 33-26 at halftime and 52-41 following three quarters, but the Warriors attempted a rally and got to within four points (62-58) in the fourth quarter.
“When they needed a big shot to fall, they did it,” Walsh coach John Norris said. “It seemed like a different guy each time. I think we did a decent job defensively the whole game, but they knocked down shots. A team like Nordonia, they have got many weapons.”
Piotrowski made three 3-pointers in the first half and scored 13 points. Nordonia then got nine points apiece in the second half from Coleman and 6-0 sophomore guard Max Hartman.
“This is a really good win,” Piotrowski said. “We played hard. We knew this would be a big game and we knew it would be packed. We came out and had energy. We come out of here with a win, which is good for us because they are in our [Division I] district [at Copley]. This shows other teams that we can beat anybody in our district.”
Cash was pleased with his team’s attacking defense and passing offensively.
“That was a tough opponent,” Cash said. “Obviously, for district seeding this is important. This is critical. February 10, we are fighting for the No. 1 or 2 seed, hopefully. You usually get that first-round bye [with a seed like that]. We have beaten a lot of quality opponents. … With them coming off a tough loss to [Cleveland] St. Ignatius, we knew this would be a tough game. I’m glad at how my kids fought. We could do a few things different here and there, but my kids fight and they play hard. I am proud of their effort.”
Mitch Peterson, a 6-2 freshman, paced Walsh with 13 points. The Warriors placed two other players in double figures, 6-2 senior Jordan Kay with 11 points and 5-11 senior Doug Lewis with 10 points and six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Senior Mark Mittiga scored eight points
Ultimately, Nordonia’s depth keyed it to victory.
Cash said Piotrowski stood out again but said there were other big contributors.
“Eugene Coleman has had about six or seven games in a row where he has been a monster on the boards,” Cash said. “Defensively, we have been putting him up against the opposition’s best player. [Sophomore] Alex Alders had a good game tonight [with eight points and four assists]. … Max Hartman had a solid game and so did [junior] Eli Linder. Chris Scott changed a lot of shots there in the first half. It was a total team effort. [Senior] Dameon Luster came in and hit two foul shots, which were huge. He was 8-of-21 on the year.”