CUYAHOGA FALLS: Mitch Peterson looked like a man among boys.
Impressive, considering he was the only underclassmen on the court for the majority of the game.
The 6-foot-4 sophomore guard scored a career-high 32 points with 12 rebounds, six steals, three assists and a block in Walsh Jesuit’s 67-59 home victory over Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in the annual “Battle of Wyoga Lake” on Tuesday.
At times, Peterson was an unstoppable one-man show.
In the second quarter, he scored or assisted on 11 consecutive Warriors points.
Then he took it to the next level to open the second half, scoring 11 consecutive points, capping it off with an off-balance, one-foot jump shot from the baseline, which drew a foul and led to a 3-point play.
“I had the hot hand,” Peterson said. “Coach told me to go and play like I always do in practice every day. I just went out and played my game.”
The Warriors (11-8) had built a 10-point lead early in the second quarter, thanks to the strong play of Peterson and junior forward Dom Mittiga, who scored five points with three rebounds and two assists in the first quarter.
The Royals (13-5) spent the rest of the quarter fighting their way back, cutting the deficit to 27-24 with eight seconds remaining in the half.
Walsh guard Jeff Bachmann raced the length of the court and attempted to launch a 3-pointer before the buzzer, but was fouled by Royals guard Terry Moorer.
He made all three free throws, his only points of the game, giving the Warriors a 30-24 lead at the half.
Marty Lee and Jeff Britton made two 3-pointers to open the second half for the Royals, tying the score at 30-30.
But that was when Peterson really took over.
He matched his already-impressive first half scoring total of 11 points in just a few short minutes and the Warriors quickly rebuilt their lead.
“He’s a heck of a player,” CVCA coach Jay Peters said. “A tough stop. Obviously we didn’t have an answer for him.”
The Warriors used a relentless full-court press defense that kept the Royals from getting anything going offensively in the early stages of the game. Peterson led the front with his game-high six steals.
“Teams press us all the time, that’s why I’m puzzled,” Peters said. “They just took it to us tonight. We [piddled] around for the first half and spent the rest of the game trying to come back, nothing else to say.”
The Warriors, who had lost six of their past eight games, are hoping this win can get them back on the right track.
“It was great to see our team keep their confidence and know that some shots are going to fall for us,” Walsh coach John Norris said. “The last four games we’ve had a lot of good looks that just haven’t come down for us, so it was good to see a few go through the net tonight.”