CUYAHOGA FALLS: It is human nature to sometimes extend a holiday or vacation a little further than necessary.
Really, who doesn’t enjoy relaxing and spending time with family this time of year?
The Walsh Jesuit boys basketball team extended its holiday break a little longer than coach John Norris would have liked.
Walsh put together a forgettable first half, but regrouped in the second half behind the play of seniors Mark Mittiga and David Croft to defeat visiting Garfield 65-50.
The Warriors (6-1) got back into the win column following their first loss of the season to host East 83-72 Saturday.
“In the East game we turned the ball over and didn’t execute our full-court press breaker,” Mittiga said. “We worked on that in practice coming back after Christmas, and I think we were still a little on Christmas break today in the first half. The second half, we came out and played the way we normally do. We played Warrior basketball. Everybody contributed. We had a lot of different guys step up and we came out with a W.”
Mittiga, a 6-foot-2 guard, scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Croft, a 6-6 forward, added 18 points and nine rebounds.
“They didn’t force anything,” Norris said of the duo. “Every shot they got, I think, was within the offense or within transition. We thought we had a good size advantage and a mismatch with both Dave and Mark. We tried to capitalize on that. That is a good testament to the rest of the guys who were able to look inside and find them.”
The Rams (0-8) led 17-13 after one quarter and 37-30 at halftime, but turnovers and poor free-throw shooting proved to be costly.
Garfield 6-5 junior Brelyn Brewton provided a presence with seven points and five rebounds in his first game back after missing seven games due to a broken thumb.
“Now that we have everybody back, we will get better,” Garfield coach Harold Ickes said. “That first half is probably about the best we have played, but there was still some spotty play. If we made more free throws we could have extended the lead. In the second half, they applied a little pressure and took us out of our game. I think my sophomore guard and my junior guard, [Noland] Hamilton and [Chris] Trammell, grew up a little bit tonight. They actually ran the offense a little bit more than what we have been doing.”
Mittiga and Croft helped Walsh outscore Garfield 35-13 in the second half.
“Mark does a good job of finding ways to score,” Norris said. “Dave is very patient and has that ability to score inside on smaller defenders and he can also step out and knock down perimeter shots.”
Freshman Mitch Peterson, junior Max Siwik and seniors Jordan Kay, Doug Lewis and Kinosha Spencer also played key roles in Walsh’s comeback.
“In the second half we came out with more energy,” Croft said. “We picked them up full-court and trapped them into corners. Offensively, we gave it to the post and guys cut and made layups. We were more aggressive in the second half.”
Senior DaiQuinn Clay (15 points) and junior Shai Wilson (10 points) paced Garfield. Trammell had seven points, nine rebounds and five assists.
The Warriors played without junior Bryan DiCillo (illness) and senior Bennet Stuffel (injury). They are expected to return soon.
“We just didn’t do a good enough job of executing in the first half the way we really did in the third quarter,” Norris said.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.