STOW: Once Buchtel stepped on the gas, it was all over.
Behind a suffocating full-court press, the Griffins (9-11) took down Revere 70-41 in a Division II sectional semifinal at Stow-Munroe Falls High School on Tuesday night.
“I knew we had to press and not allow [Revere] to control the tempo,” Buchtel coach Steve White said. “I knew if we pressed them all out they’d have problems, and it worked.”
Behind 10-7 after the first quarter, Buchtel began applying more pressure and cutting off passing lanes, forcing seven turnovers in the second quarter and sprinting to a 21-6 advantage to close out the half and open up a 14-point lead.
The Griffins forced another nine turnovers in the third quarter and put the game out of reach with a 49-26 lead heading into the fourth.
Along the way, Buchtel also took out Revere’s top scoring option, senior center Mitch Ruetty. Ruetty scored eight points in the first quarter alone. After Buchtel applied pressure, the Minutemen couldn’t find ways to get him the ball. Ruetty finished with 18, most of them coming after Revere was already behind by 20. He also grabbed seven rebounds.
Buchtel sophomore Ci’Andre Lollar-Johnson led the Griffins with 13 points off the bench. Juniors Sable Cooper and Elijah Bell each scored 10 points to lead the charge in the second and third quarters. Both sat out most of the fourth quarter. Juniors Erron Cosey and Demonte Hicks each added seven points.
As a team, Buchtel shot 42 percent from the field.
“We had a real good balance,” White said. “We had a kid off the bench score 13, Cooper played well and stepped forward … they just came to play, [and] played hard.”
White says his team is looking to make some noise in the tournament after spending the season in a struggle to replace so many scorers from last season.
“We averaged 79 points last year and only brought back eight, so  points walked out the door,” White said. “We played young, took our lumps. If we can make a statement here, then we’ll definitely make a statement next year.”
The Griffins will play No. 2 seed Orange on Saturday.
NDCL 59, Woodridge 45
Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin defeated Woodridge in the other sectional semifinal, but not in the way any team wants to win a game.
With 5:52 left in the second quarter, Woodridge junior Nelson Perry, the team’s primary ball-handler, challenged NDCL’s Chris Shkil on a layup attempt, landed head-first on the floor and lay motionless on the ground.
After several minutes, Perry walked off the floor with the help of his parents and was sent to the hospital with concussion symptoms.
After that scene, Woodridge was never the same team.
The Bulldogs looked timid, even sluggish. The Lions, who had been ahead by five points at the time, went on a 17-0 run to end the half.
Woodridge coach Brian Fantone knows how important Perry is to the team at both ends of the floor.
“Talk about a momentum swing,” Fantone said. “I really liked how we were playing, with a lot of energy and physicality. As soon as [Perry] goes down with that injury, it was a punch in the stomach to our whole team. I don’t care what you say as a player or coach, once one of your best players goes down, it’s tough to come back.”
Even with the deficit, Woodridge fought back in the second half but never could overcome NDCL’s size advantage.
Lions sophomore John Cirillo (6-foot-5) and Shkil (6-9) both had their way with Woodridge in the paint. They combined to score 27 points.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohiomm.com/blogs/varsity_letters/. Also follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewis83. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.