STOW: Near perfect free-throw shooting and strong rebounding, along with outstanding play from senior Matt Beech, lifted Stow to a 43-35 win Saturday night over Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in the championship game of the Stow Basketball Holiday Classic.
Beech collected 20 points and nine rebounds, and survived foul trouble to help Stow (7-2) hand CVCA (6-1) its first loss.
“It’s the little things that we try to work on in practice every day so that we can get the win,” said Beech, a burly, 6-foot-2 power forward.
The Bulldogs made 18-of-19 free throws and enjoyed a plus-10 advantage in rebounds.
“[Beech] is a tough kid because he can shoot threes. He can put the ball on the floor. He posts up extremely well, and he can finish around the bucket,” CVCA coach Jay Peters said.
Beech sank all nine of his free-throw attempts.
Stow led 14-6 after one quarter and expanded that to 22-9 before the Royals rallied.
“Defensively, in the first half, we dug ourselves a nice big hole by not executing what we’re trying to do,” Peters said. “I was proud of our guys. We didn’t show any quit.”
Beech picked up his third foul at 4:11 of the third quarter and went to the bench with the Bulldogs leading 26-18.
When Beech returned at 5:12 of the fourth quarter, the Royals trailed 30-26.
“Matt was our leading scorer last year and we’re used to going to him,” Stow coach Dave Close said. “A lot of our stuff is designed with him being the primary option. So, when he’s not in the game, we have to do some other stuff.”
Beech quickly scored six points and the Bulldogs led 36-28 with 2:43 to play.
Stow closed out the win by connecting on 11-of-12 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Through the first three quarters, senior guard Marty Lee kept CVCA in the game by drilling three 3-point goals and a 2-point jumper. In the fourth quarter, Royals junior guard Mike Peters managed to hit two huge 3-point goals.
“Bryan Ritchie [a 6-foot-3 senior] was a little bit of an unsung hero,” Close said. “He guarded Mike Peters tonight. He always has our toughest defensive assignment. And Mike Peters is a very good player. I thought Bryan did a tremendous job on him.”
Peters scored 13 points and Lee added 11 for CVCA.
Stow’s Jacob Williams and Nathan Bower added nine and seven, respectively.
Girls championship: Stow 50, Nordonia 37
The Bulldogs, led by junior Meghan Preston and senior Madison Baer, dominated the interior to win Saturday.
“Defensively, Meghan is becoming a very important addition to what we do,” Stow coach Bob Podges said. “She is relentless on the boards.”
Preston, a 5-foot-11 forward, collected six points and 13 rebounds, while Baer, a 6-foot-2 center, tallied 12 points and nine rebounds.
“I love basketball,” Preston said. “It’s something I can come to and not worry about anything.”
Stow jumped out 14-0, but Nordonia whittled its deficit to 24-17 by halftime.
“It was easy to see that No. 3 [Baer] and No. 2 [Preston] kicked our butts on the glass,” Knights’ coach Mike Griffen said. “Physicality was the difference today.”
Holly Groff, Katie Karalic and Kayla Shine each had seven points for Nordonia.