CUYAHOGA FALLS — They get after it every inch of the 94-foot floor.

And they utilize a rotation that looks more like two different starting lineups.

Welcome to the world of the 2017-18 edition of the Nordonia Knights.

Let’s just say their opponents probably don’t feel incredibly comfortable with the Knights’ relentless style.

Just ask the Black Tigers.

The Nordonia boys basketball team improved to 4-5 overall and 2-2 in the Suburban League National Conference after posting a 46-40 victory over host Cuyahoga Falls. The contest took place Friday evening at Tom Jones Court. With the loss, the Black Tigers (6-4), who earned a 71-55 victory over Akron North Tuesday on the road, fell to 2-3 in the National Conference.

Nordonia, thanks to its relentless full-court pressure, forced 27 turnovers, including 19 in the middle two quarters.

"We try to make you work for 94 feet," Knights head coach Matt Cash said. "You could see that they (the Black Tigers) didn’t handle it well a couple of times.

"We can be offensively challenged at times, but we got some points in transition off our press. That was good to see."

Nordonia’s defense threw Falls out of its rhythm throughout the evening. The Black Tigers were especially rattled in the third quarter. Falls committed 11 turnovers and scored just four points in the period.

It didn’t help that the Black Tigers also were woeful from the free throw line. Falls converted just 4 of 13 foul shots.

"Our goal is 15 turnovers or less," Black Tigers head coach Kenny Johnson said. "Two things decided this game, and they were turnovers and free throws. If we score on a fourth of those turnovers, we win the game by 10 points."

Despite all of its ball-handling issues and its agonizing struggle to get freebies, Falls managed to make things interesting in the closing moments of the game.

Trailing by as many as 10 (36-26) late in the third quarter, the Black Tigers made it a two-point game (42-40) with 39 seconds left when junior guard James Moore converted both ends of a one and one.

But Knights’ senior guard Drew Petros made sure Falls didn’t get any closer.

Petros beat the Black Tigers’ full-court pressure and went coast to coast for a layup to make it 44-40. He finished with a team-high 14 points.

"We came out of the time-out ready to go long," Cash said. "They (the Black Tigers) helped off Drew and he flashed right. Drew is a senior leader who has played three years of varsity basketball. For him to stay cool and calm was huge for us."

Falls missed a front end of a one-and-one situation on its next possession and junior guard Evan Wiehe put it away with two free throws with 12 seconds remaining.

Most of the Black Tigers’ offense came from two players. Moore led Falls with a game-high 20 points and senior forward Dion Davis added 14 points. No other player scored more than four points for the Black Tigers.

"The kids didn’t quit and kept playing hard," Johnson said. "James Moore played a good game and (junior guard) Ty Vassalotti played hard. Ty got some loose balls."

A total of nine players scored at least two points for the Knights. Wiehe added 13 points, including nine on a trio of 3-pointers.

While the scoring totals may have indicated otherwise, Nordonia, which also struggled from the charity stripe (4 of 14), had several players contribute in a plethora of ways.

And, of course, their contributions took place mainly on the defensive end.

"We have depth, so why not get out and press and see if teams can stay up with us?" Cash said. "They’re great kids. When we struggled offensively in the third quarter, our defense didn’t stop."

Since Johnson became Falls’ head coach, it has outrebounded its opponents a large majority of the time.

Friday was one of those rare exceptions.

The Knights had a 50-32 edge on the glass and were particularly lethal on the offensive end. Nordonia grabbed 21 offensive rebounds.

"They killed us on the boards," Johnson said. "It has probably happened five times in the last three years. A lot of things we did are correctable. Turnovers and missed free throws are something you can correct."

The Black Tigers led 31-10 at halftime against Akron North. Davis led the way with a career-high 28 points and senior guard Paris Blackshear added 20 points for Falls.

The Knights are scheduled to visit Suburban League crossover rival Aurora Tuesday. They are set to return home to play Brunswick Jan. 16. Varsity tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. both nights.

The Black Tigers are scheduled to visit James G. Tyree Gymnasium to play National Conference archrival Stow-Munroe Falls Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m.


Phone: 330-541-9444

Twitter: FrankAceto_RPC