Nordonia boys run past Tallmadge

by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor Published:

Tallmadge -- When Tallmadge boys basketball hosted Nordonia Feb. 5, it was a battle of two teams with different agendas.

For the Knights, it was about staying prefect in the Suburban League and pumping up their resumé ahead of the district tournament draw.

For the Blue Devils, it was about maintaining the solid play they've had in recent weeks against one of the league's best.

Tallmadge hung with the Knights for a quarter. Then, the afterburners got turned on.

Nordonia outscored Tallmadge 19-4 in the second quarter to blow the game open and were not threatened the rest of the way. The Knights finished with a 67-33 win.

Nordonia also scored a 55-54 win over Medina Highland Feb. 8 at home.

Nordonia improved to 17-2, 12-0 in the Suburban League as of press time.

Tallmadge coach Aaron Hinkle said the Knights athleticism showed.

"I think Nordonia does a good job of pressuring you and making you do things on offense you don't want to," Hinkle said. "I thought we did a good job spreading them out in the first quarter. We had a couple of good looks that didn't go down.

"We made a few mistakes and they made us pay," Hinkle added. "They're 15-2 for a reason."

Nordonia coach Matt Cash said a variety of factors led to the slow start.

"We've been practicing and dealing with some sickness, so that hurts," Cash said. "Coach Hinkle did a good job of spreading us out. We had to made some adjustments and make some steals."

Outside a three-pointer early from Nick Piotrowski, the Knights were cold from the field early.

Tallmadge made better use of their scoring chances, but simply didn't have that many of them. The Blue Devils trailed 11-7

Early in the second quarter, Tallmadge threw several exotic defenses at the Knights, switching from 1-3-1 zone to box-and-1 to triangle-and-2 on virtually every possession.

It worked well until the Knights found their mid-range shooting touch midway through the quarter.

Meanwhile, Nordonia's defense was consistent: A pressing man-to-man trap that was either causing steals or forcing Tallmadge into the middle.

Once inside, Nordonia center Chris Scott and forward Eugene Coleman made trying for layups a dicey proposition. Nordonia had eight blocks on the night.

"We like to have Chris hang back and play a 'one man zone,'" Cash said, with a laugh.

A pair of putback layups from forward Andrew Francesconi accounted for all of Tallmadge's second quarter points.

Tallmadge had to know it wasn't going to be their night when Knights guard Alex Alder hits threw up a shot from just inside half-court that went in at the halftime buzzer.

Nordonia led 30-11 at the half.

Tallmadge guard Anthony Gotto found his shooting stroke early in the third quarter, nailing a trio of three-pointers. As result, Tallmadge scored more in the first four minutes of the second half than it had in the first.

Gotto scored 13 of his team-high 15 points in the third quarter.

The problem was for Tallmadge was the faster pace of the game suited the Knights just fine.

Scott started to assert himself on the boards and scored eight points in the quarter. Meanwhile, threes started coming in from Alders and Max Hartman for the Knights.

"We play nine guys every night and have 11 on varsity," Cash said. "We want to wear your down so that in the third and fourth quarter, those three pointers don't fall."

With Nordonia up 54-28 after three, Scott didn't play a minute of the fourth quarter. However, Nordonia still opened the quarter on a 7-0 run, pushing the lead to as much as 61-28.

With the Knights sending in the reserves, Tallmadge cut into the lead a bit, but it was too little too late.

Scott finished 16 points and 11 rebounds, while guard Alex Alders added 13 off the bench.

Guard Nick Piotrowski added nine, while Coleman had eight points and five blocks.

Nordonia will host Canal Fulton Northwest Feb. 13 before travling to Revere Feb. 15. Varsity game time both night is set for 7:30 p.m.

Nordonia also scored the No. 1 seed in the Division I district tournament draw at Copley High School Feb. 10. The Knight will open the postseason in March 1 at 6:30 against the winner of the Cuyahoga Falls-Wadsworth game.

E-mail: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

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