MACEDONIA -- Longtime head Stow-Munroe Falls boys basketball coach Dave Close would prefer his team not rely so much on the 3-point shot as much as it has.

Such a suggestion is still a work in progress, but as long as they go in, Close will take it.

The Bulldogs rebounded from their first Suburban League National Conference loss of the season with a 59-43 victory over a pesky Nordonia squad Jan. 31 at Nordonia High School's Hugh Griffith Memorial Gymnasium in Macedonia.

Stow, which suffered a 53-41 defeat to Wadsworth Jan. 27 on the road, had the lead for much of the way. But it seemed like whenever the Bulldogs were on the verge of taking complete control, the Knights (2-13, 1-7), who recently got 6-foot-7 senior forward Ryan Smith back in the lineup, got a few buckets in a row to stay within sight.

"Nordonia is scrappy," Close said. "They have their big kid [Smith] back and he makes a difference.

"Nordonia always makes me nervous. They've lost a lot of close games and they're a lot better than their record indicates."

All signs of the first few minutes of the game pointed to a blowout.

Stow raced out to a 9-0 lead and then found itself in a 13-13 stalemate after a run by the Knights.

But the Bulldogs knew how to shoot themselves out of trouble.

As soon as Nordonia tied the game at 13, junior guard Coryon Rice buried a 3-pointer to give Stow the advantage again.

Rice finished with a game-high 20 points and knocked down five of the Bulldogs' eight 3-pointers.

"We're trying to diversify our attack," Close said. "We don't want to be just a 3-point shooting team. We took some quick threes instead of running the clock. We want to make them play defense. We also were a little careless with the ball."

Stow built its lead back to double digits again (33-22) when Rice buried a triple with less than 10 seconds in the half.

Again, the Knights managed to peck and scratch to keep the game from getting out of hand.

Junior guard Drew Petros drilled a 3 from the top of the key at the buzzer to cut Nordonia's deficit to eight (33-25).

However, the Knights couldn't keep up with the Bulldogs' perimeter shooting.

Stow made a trio of 3-pointers in the third quarter and led by as many as 18 (48-30) when 6-foot-8 junior forward Mason McMurray buried a triple.

The Bulldogs didn't look back the rest of the way.

"We're done with moral victories," Knights' first-year head coach Mike Griffen said. "I'm not upset, though. We played well. Coryon had it going on and Mason McMurray knocked down a bunch of shots. They made a lot of contested shots and we didn't."

McMurray, who was in some foul trouble in the first half, finished with 14 points and senior guard Logan Lindsay added 9 points.

Petros knocked down four 3-pointers on his way to a team-high 19 points for Nordonia. Junior forward Tye Evans contributed 7 points for the Knights.

Stow earned a 54-33 win in the junior varsity contest.

Against the Grizzlies, the Bulldogs scored just a combined total of 13 points in the first and third quarters and were outscored 22-14 in the final eight minutes.

McMurray led Stow with 14 points and 9 rebounds and Lindsay added 9 points.

The Bulldogs' top defender, senior guard/forward Nick Kollar, injured his nose early in the game and did not return. Kollar played limited minutes against Nordonia.

Christian Szalay led the Grizzlies with 15 points.

"Wadsworth is very good," Close said.

Stow was scheduled to host National Conference rival Twinsburg Feb. 3. Results were not available at press time.

The Bulldogs are set to host Suburban League crossover foe Barberton Feb. 7 and National Conference rival Hudson Feb. 10. Both varsity contests are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.


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