MACEDONIA: Nordonia’s shooters caught fire from 3-point range early in the game and the Knights downed a young Tallmadge squad 69-49 Tuesday night at home.
Nordonia (5-1, 4-0) hit six 3-pointers in the first quarter (four by sophomore Max Hartman) to take an early 23-12 lead. The Knights boast a powerful scoring option inside in 6’8” senior Chris Scott, though he wasn’t needed in the first half as Hartman (14 points), senior Nick Piotrowski (eight points) and company drilled 3-pointers. Coach Matt Cash says Scott is the first option on offense, but above all else, the Knights are going to get a lot of shots.
“Well, we’re a team with a philosophy of ‘Let’s shoot it before we turn it over,’ ” he said. “So if it’s a good shot, it’s going up. The balance is that obviously, our first look in any offensive set is to go into our 6’8” kid. So, we work a lot on the in-out game. If we start hitting from 3, then they gotta go out and guard it.”
The Knights’ sharpshooters opened a 41-23 lead by halftime. Then it was Scott’s turn to put the game out of reach. He scored eight points in four minutes and led Nordonia on a 10-0 run to open the second half. Scott finished with a team-high 20 points.
“We came out of the first half hitting a lot of 3s, so we decided if they’re going to go man on us, we’re going to get it inside,” Cash said. “That was stressed at halftime to get it into him and let him go to work.”
For such a young team like Tallmadge, coach Aaron Hinkle sees Tuesday night as another learning experience for a roster dealing with inexperience and injuries — junior point guard Nate Bickar is out of the lineup and senior Anthony Gotto’s status for this season is still up in the air.
At the moment, the Blue Devils (1-4, 1-3) have as many healthy sophomores as juniors and seniors combined.
“I tell our coaching staff that we gotta coach, we’re not just getting through this, we’re getting something out of it,” Hinkle said. “You don’t just get drilled and get your teeth kicked in and go through the motions, you do what you want to become and work on what you want to be about and compete. Hopefully, these young kids are getting something out of it.”
Already short-handed on experience, the injuries have forced the Blue Devils to learn by a trial-by-fire mentality as Hinkle and his staff search to fill the holes.
“We’ve had a lot of movement on our roster,” he said. “A lot of things we’ve had to adapt to on the fly.
‘‘We talked about being flexible as a character of a winning team. When we’re adjusting on the fly and you’re a young team too, that adds to the difficulties. ... Everything for us this year is a lot of firsts.”
Hinkle says that at the high school level, these things take time. On this night, Tallmadge’s prime concern was not being ready to play.
“Just mentally, we weren’t ready,” he said. “The disappointing thing is we talked this week about three games against really good opponents, we talked about preparing like a winner and how to prepare to be a winner and we just didn’t. For whatever rhyme or reason, we weren’t ready to go. We need to learn from that.”
Sophomore Andrew Francesconi led the Blue Devils with 21 points and fellow sophomore Joseph Vassalotti added 13.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.