Two huge fourth quarters nearly earned the Nordonia boys basketball team two wins last week against two Medina County powers.
Unfortunately, the Knights fell just short in a 56-53 loss at home to Suburban League National Conference rival Wadsworth Friday. Three nights earlier, however, they won 64-56 at Brunswick.
Against the Blue Devils, Nordonia trailed 15-12 after one quarter, 32-29 at halftime and 42-39 after three quarters before outscoring the home team 25-14 in the fourth quarter.
"Brunswick has a really excellent player, guard Kyle Goessler, who we really didn’t have an answer for all game. He scored 36 points," said Nordonia head coach Matt Cash. "But we stuck around, and then we started the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run and forced them a little bit out of their comfort zone.
"We were able to spread them out defensively and get really good looks at layups. Down the stretch they had to foul us, and I think we were 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the last minute to seal the deal.
"We played a good game except for trying to control Goessler. He was on fire. Their second-leading scorer didn’t score a point, and their third-leading scorer had only three points. We ran him off the three-point line.
Leading the way for Nordonia was sophomore guard Joel Jones, who scored 19 points and had five rebounds.
"Joel had another big game," said Cash. "He’s playing really well for us right now. He hit a big three in the fourth quarter to put us up by four points. He’s coming of age and is starting to show his athletic ability and his basketball skills."
Senior guard Julius Jones, Joel’s brother, scored 13 points and had six rebounds.
"This was Julius’ second game back from an ankle injury," Cash said. "He’s still only about 85 percent healthy, but he’s starting to round into form again and get his conditioning back, playing more extended minutes. When he’s in there scoring, it helps everybody else around him."
Senior guard Evan Wiehe scored 12 points and had seven assists and two rebounds, while senior forward Robby Levak had 10 points.
"Robby does a nice job off the ball. All of his points came off cuts to the basket," said the coach. "He’s a smart player and a great defender. He does everything we ask him to do."
In the loss to Wadsworth, Nordonia was down 7-2 after the first quarter, 19-12 at the half and 36-23 after the third quarter.
"In the first quarter, we couldn’t hit water if we fell out of a boat," said Cash. "We were getting good looks, we just couldn’t get anything to go in and stay in the basket, really for the first three quarters. Defensively, we were locked in, though."
The Knights exploded for 30 points in the fourth quarter.
"We decided to go back to the pressure defense, and we got Wadsworth out of its comfort zone because they’re big and physical," Cash said. "They were turning the ball over, and we started hitting our shots.
"When your shots are falling, you become a little bit more aggressive and a little bit more motivated, and that’s what happened to us in the fourth quarter.
"After we cut it to 56-53 on a three-pointer, they couldn’t get the ball inbounded and had to call a timeout. They come back and inbound the ball, we tipped it and their kid never established position inbounds.
"He came in and touched the ball, which should’ve given us the ball right underneath the basket with 1.7 seconds left to attempt another three to tie it. But the refs missed the call, called a jump ball, gave Wadsworth the ball back and they were able to throw the ball long. We tipped it, but time ran out.
"We fought hard and the kids hung around. It just wasn’t our night offensively to begin with. Then in the fourth quarter we came strong and had a chance at the end."
Wiehe scored 15 points and had four rebounds and three assists.
"Evan was held scoreless until the fourth quarter, when he made five big threes to get us right back in the game," said Cash. "He’s a streaky shooter. When he’s hot, he’s hot."
Joel Jones scored nine points and had four steals, while Julius Jones had eight points, six assists and three steals.
Junior center Robert Watson contributed eight points.
"Robert has been coming on. He’s been practicing real hard," said Cash. "He had to guard two extremely big post players, but he had a nice game. He did a nice job to stay out of foul trouble. He made a couple big free throws late in the game."
Senior guard Jordan Jones, Joel and Julius’ brother, scored seven points and had three rebounds and three steals.
Nordonia is scheduled to take a 4-7 overall record into a game at Akron Firestone Tuesday at 7 p.m.
The Knights are set to carry a 2-5 National Conference mark into a game at conference rival Hudson Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m.