MACEDONIA: Behind senior Dan Fanelly’s stat-stuffing performance and sophomore Austin Marciniak’s hot hand from 3-point range, Green played the spoiler role well, beating Nordonia 68-51 on the road, handing the Knights their only blemish on an otherwise perfect league record dating back to last season.
After last year’s 14-0 conference record, this was Nordonia’s first loss in the Suburban League since the school’s addition (27 games). The Knights (19-3, 13-1 Suburban) are still conference champions, but Green (20-2, 12-2 Suburban) took Friday night’s game as perhaps the biggest game for the program this year.
“Ever since they came into the league, we haven’t been able to beat them,” said Fanelly, who finished with a game-high 24 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and two assists. “I’ve been a part of both teams that lost to them, and this was a real passionate game. Breaking that streak sets up the program for another run through the district and next year, too.”
Green’s two conference losses (Nordonia, Copley) were each by only two points.
“We’ve had that mindset all year where we haven’t always played well and everything, but we came here with the mindset that this is an important game,” he said. “We wanted to come in and be the team that beats them for the first time. ... This was a big game for us.”
Fanelly led the charge early, scoring half of Green’s first-half points (17) en route to a 34-26 halftime lead. Nordonia cut the lead to two points early in the third quarter before Marciniak drilled back-to-back 3-pointers in transition in about 20 seconds of play to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 43-34.
Marciniak finished the game with five 3-pointers and 19 points and stifled the Knights’ guards, and Nordonia senior Chris Scott dealt with pressure inside. The 3-pointers are nice — but Kinsley might be more pleased with his effort at the other end of the floor.
“The biggest thing I’m proud of with Austin this year is his defense and the way he’s improved,” Kinsley said. “He’s a sophomore and he’s one of our best defenders. We put him on the other team’s best [perimeter player].”
Green senior Josh Pritchard and junior Carson Corle also scored 10 points each.
“It was just a sense of urgency throughout the team,” Fanelly said. “Some key players stepped up for us tonight. It was a big, big help. Austin, he had two big offensive rebounds and two big finishes at the rim. And Austin’s been with us and knocked down some big shots.”
Nordonia coach Matt Cash still celebrated a second consecutive Suburban League regular-season title and walked the sideline as the student section chanted “Conference champs” in the closing seconds. He says this loss can bring positives and refocus a talented group.
“This is good coaching motivation to use in my favor to get kids to buy back in and work harder on our defensive effort and make a tournament run,” Cash said. “We’re still 19-3, still two-time Suburban League champs, and now we’ll go into the tournament and fight.”
Junior Eli Linder led the Knights with 12 points. Sophomore Max Hartman finished the night with nine points, and Scott added eight points.
“We just didn’t play well,” Cash said. “We didn’t have a whole lot to play for other than pride going into the tournament. The kids know that. I can use all the motivational tactics I wanna use, but it is what it is.”
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.