STOW: Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and Buchtel took care of business Wednesday at Stow to advance to a Division II district boys basketball final at 2 p.m. Saturday.
No. 2 seed Buchtel defeated No. 4 Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin 67-57 in the opening game and No. 1 seed CVCA beat No. 3 East 67-52 in the nightcap.
The Griffins (17-6) deployed a pressure defense that disrupted the Lions (15-9) on a consistent basis to win their game.
Senior Elijah Bell had 19 points and three steals to lead Buchtel. Senior Tyler Jones scored 15 points and senior Sable Cooper added 12 points, five rebounds and two steals.
“Our speed and our pressure defense definitely caused a lot of problems for them,” Buchtel coach Stephen White said. “We had them really rattled at halftime, and then in the third quarter, we had them rattled. They tried to slow it down in the fourth quarter, and then we got them rattled again in the final three minutes. We made some changes defensively that they had not seen and that caused them problems.”
Buchtel outscored NDCL 20-6 in the second quarter to erase a 16-11 first-quarter deficit.
“We played great defense and we played together,” said Bell, a 6-foot-1 forward. “[Senior] Demonte Hicks, Tyler Jones and I have played together since we were little. We came together and did what we had to do, which was play hard and play together.”
Hicks and junior Ci’Andre Johnson-Lollar scored five points apiece for Buchtel.
“We played hard defense and pressured the ball well,” said Jones, a 6-foot-3 forward. “We fronted the post really well. They were bigger in the post, but we fronted them. That was part of the game-plan. We were not worried about their height advantage.”
The Lions featured a lineup with four players between 6-4 and 6-9, but the smaller Griffins played an up-tempo game to their advantage.
“We have been playing against big guys all year,” Bell said. “We knew all we had to do was attack, get fouls and go to the free-throw line.”
John Cirillo, a 6-5 junior, scored 32 points for the Lions and 6-4 junior Daniel Sapp added 13 points.
CVCA 67, East 52
CVCA (23-2) dispatched East (15-9) courtesy of the play of its senior leaders, 6-2 guard Bob Peters, 6-5 forward Caleb Kleibscheidel and 6-3 guard Alex Punka. Peters scored 22 points and had six assists. Kleibscheidel contributed 15 points and 17 rebounds, and Punka scored eight points.
“This is the first good game we have played so far in the tournament,” CVCA coach Jay Peters said. “We have been a little shaky. I just talked about loosening up a little bit and playing confident basketball like we have all year. We knew we needed to come out strong, quick and fast. I thought we really did a nice job thinking on the defensive end and limiting them to what we wanted them to take. We also did a great job with Caleb, Alex and other guys on the boards. We limited them to one shot.”
CVCA used a 19-0 run that spanned the latter moments of the second quarter into the opening five minutes of the third quarter to take control.
“Today compared to all the other days in the tournament, we were confident and came out hard,” Kleibscheidel said. “Everyone believed in each other and played like a team. We pushed each other to do even better.”
CVCA sophomore Luke Peters added 12 points, nine rebounds and four steals, and sophomore Michael Peters scored six points.
“We just played hard,” Bob Peters said. “We had not had a good game this tournament, so it was nice to come out and play hard as a team. We played confident in our abilities.”
Senior Demetrius Ray scored 30 points for East and sophomore Derik Lewis scored 16 points. Both players had four steals.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.