COPLEY: The Copley Division I sectional-district tournament is noted for wild finishes and upsets.
For one half, top-seeded Stow looked like it might join the rank of teams to experience the unthinkable before regrouping to whip Cloverleaf 68-36 Tuesday night in a sectional semifinal at Copley High School.
Stow coach Dave Close said one reason he did not opt to take a bye in the first round was to combat such a potential upset.
“When two teams play in the first game of a tournament both teams can have the jitters and be nervous,” Close said. “I was disappointed in both ends of the floor. We weren’t aggressive on the offensive end and we gave them some easy baskets on defense.”
David Walker, the Bulldogs’ senior who led all scorers with 28 points, admitted the team was not going all out in the first half.
“I don’t think we came out ready to play, maybe a little nervous; the energy wasn’t there,” Walker said. “The first quarter we played bad defense, let them go right to the hoop.”
Matthew Beech, who had 23 points, agreed.
“I think we underestimated them. It was pretty intense in the locker room,” Beech said.
The Bulldogs asserted themselves in the third quarter, going on a 13-1 run to take a 41-29 lead after three quarters.
The Bulldogs outscored the Colts 42-10 in the second half.
Stow senior Kyle Scelza finished with 11 points.
The way the Colts (1-20) played the first half made their 1-19 record hard to fathom. Cloverleaf played with a calm, cool demeanor and utilized dead-eye outside shooting to play the Bulldogs (18-3) even.
Zack Miglich scored 12 of his 13 points in the first half with three of the Colts’ five 3-point baskets and the teams went into halftime tied 26-26. The Colts led 14-13 after the first quarter.
“I give Cloverleaf a lot of credit. They were patient and disciplined and waited for us to break down,” Close said.
Walker scored 10 points in the first quarter and Beech dominated inside for the Bulldogs with 10 points in the second quarter.
Stow will play Highland for the sectional championship at 6 p.m. Friday.
Cuyahoga Falls 52, Twinsburg 45
The Black Tigers and Tigers came into their sectional semifinal about as evenly matched as possible. They split their two regular-season games, and each came in with a record of 10-10.
“They beat us in double overtime at our place, then we make some free throws to beat them in a close game at their place,” Falls coach Rob Slone said.
It took until the final few minutes to determine the winner on Tuesday night.
The Black Tigers outscored the Tigers 9-2 in the final 2:30 of the fourth quarter to emerge victorious.
“We did not play well offensively. Defensively, we did a good job of keeping them off the glass,” Slone said. “Last time [A.J.] Edwards had 21 points and tonight he had 18 points but he had to work hard for them and we held them to just one shot.”
Slone credited the defensive effort on Edwards to Henry Shaw, Mitchell Davis and Luke Ritzinger.
Josh Ricker led Falls with 14 points, including a big tip-in late in the fourth quarter, and Jacob Slone and Devin Speicher each had nine points.
The Black Tigers are 9-3 in their past 12 games after starting the season 2-7.
Falls plays Firestone for the sectional championship at 8 p.m. Friday.
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