COPLEY TWP.: Rob Slone delivered a message to his Cuyahoga Falls boys basketball team at halftime Tuesday night.
After Wadsworth scored the first four points of the second half to go up by 10 points in a Copley Division I sectional game, Slone called timeout and reiterated that message, with a little more emphasis.
“I thought [Wadsworth] was the tougher team in the first half, which is something we pride ourselves on this year, trying to be the most aggressive, toughest team on the floor,” said Slone.
“I told them we were getting outworked, out-toughed, and if they wanted it, or turn their stuff in tomorrow, you either got to step up and play or turn it in.”
Message received. The Black Tigers immediately scored the next 11 points and took the lead. However, it took all of the fourth quarter, as well as an overtime period, before Cuyahoga Falls captured a 48-42 victory.
A 3-point shot by 6-foot-7 junior Angelo Cugini, just his second basket of the night, put Cuyahoga Falls ahead to stay at 41-39 with 1:23 left. A rugby-type scrum near the Wadsworth basket then resulted in a jump ball, with alternating possession awarding it to Falls.
Matt Lawrence, a 5-10 senior who led Falls with 16 points — six in overtime — was fouled with 42.7 seconds left, and he made both free throws for a four-point lead.
The Black Tigers made 4-of-5 free throws the rest of the way, allowing only a 3-pointer by Wadsworth’s Tucker Robinson with two seconds left, to close it out.
Falls earned the right to face the sectional’s top seed, Nordonia, at 6 p.m. Friday at Copley.
“It’s just which team is going to show up with the chip on their shoulder and says — you know what — this is what I’m going to do, what are you going to do to stop it?” said Slone. The Grizzlies took a six-point halftime lead and increased it to 25-15 on baskets by Kyle Prunty and Nathan Pound. But they didn’t score for more than five minutes until a Prunty layup that put Wadsworth back up 27-26 at the end of the third quarter.
A half-court trap, or “run and jump” as Slone called it, created problems for most of the Grizzlies. That is, except for Prunty, a 6-5 junior, who led all scorers with 24 points.
Prunty converted a three-point play, cutting a four-point deficit to 33-32 with 1:15 left in regulation, and made 1-of-2 free throws with 21.2 seconds remaining to tie. His blocked shot with 7.1 seconds left helped send it to overtime.
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