BROADVIEW HEIGHTS -- His team had a few lapses and it struggled to make open shots.

However, Cuyahoga Falls head boys basketball coach Kenny Johnson felt his squad took a step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, his team fell a bit short against the defending Suburban League National Conference champions.

The Black Tigers dropped to 7-8 overall and 2-5 in the National Conference after losing to Brecksville-Broadview Heights 61-53 Jan. 27 on the road.

With the win, the Bees improved to 11-3 overall and 7-1 in the National Conference.

Falls made things somewhat interesting after trailing by as many as 12 (50-38) early in the fourth quarter.

The Black Tigers, who also suffered a 74-53 defeat to Wadsworth Jan. 31 at home, had a 26-24 edge in rebounding.

"I thought we played hard," Johnson said. "I was proud of our effort. We missed some easy bunnies and some wide-open 15-footers. At the same time, we made a half-court shot and we hit another shot at the buzzer."

Falls took advantage of two buzzer beaters in the first half.

Senior guard Ka'Von Gainer knocked down a 3-pointer from the left side to cut Brecksville's lead to a deuce (18-16) as the horn sounded in the first quarter.

Right before the half, sophomore guard Dylan Ball buried a half-court shot as time expired to trim the Bees' advantage to five (29-24).

Nonetheless, Brecksville had the lead for much of the way.

The Bees led by as many as 12 (50-38) early in the fourth quarter. The Black Tigers cut their deficit to six (53-47) after a 3-pointer by senior guard Nate Vassalotti with less than four minutes left.

But Falls, which had missed a couple of front ends of one-and-one situations earlier in the quarter, had some turnovers and missed some open shots down the stretch.

On one particular occasion, the Bees were able to play keep away with the Black Tigers for about a minute before Falls committed a foul. Brecksville, which was in the double-bonus situation at that point, knocked down a few throws to seal the deal.

"We played really well against a good team," Johnson said. "I'm excited about the direction we're heading."

The Black Tigers got as close as three (33-30) a little more than three minutes into the third quarter when sophomore guard Daizhan Brazile scored a layup off an assist from Vassalotti.

But Brecksville responded with an 11-4 run that was highlighted by 3-pointers from sophomore guard Kenny Ganley and senior guard Matt Dimitrijevs.

Three players scored in double digits for the Bees.

Dimitrijevs, who was able to sneak into the lane for a number of layups, led all scorers with 21 points.

"It was an almost quiet 21 points," Johnson said of Dimitrijevs. "We left him open a couple of times."

Six-foot-7, 270-pound senior center Jared Bazil finished with 17 points and Ganley added 16 points for Brecksville, which made four 3-pointers and was 11-of-17 from the free throw line.

"No. 4 {Ganley] played well," Johnson said. "He made some shots and broke down our defense."

Senior center Troy Tofil led Falls with 15 points and 9 rebounds. Vassalotti finished with 11 points and Gainer and Ball each had 8 points for the Black Tigers, who drained seven 3-pointers and were just 4-of-9 from the foul line.

"Dylan Ball is growing up and playing well," Johnson said.

Against the Grizzlies, Falls trailed 38-23 at halftime. Tofil led the Black Tigers with a game-high 17 points.

Falls was scheduled to visit National Conference rival Hudson Feb. 3. Results were not available at press time.

The Black Tigers are set to visit National Conference foe Nordonia Feb. 10.


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