BROADVIEW HEIGHTS — Two key players were not in the lineup.
However, when it comes to the defending Suburban League National Conference champions, Todd Taylor may have said it best.
"They just put another guy who could make the 18- to 20-footer," the first-year Cuyahoga Falls head boys basketball coach said.
Sadly for his Black Tigers, Taylor was spot-on.
Falls dropped its seventh consecutive game after losing to host Brecksville-Broadview Heights 53-40.
With the loss, the Black Tigers dropped to 2-13 overall and 1-9 in the Suburban League National Conference. The Bees, whose slim chances of defending their National Conference championship got a boost with previously unbeaten conference rival North Royalton’s 64-56 loss to Twinsburg, improved to 12-4 overall and 8-3 in the conference.
Brecksville, thanks to its sharp ball movement, punishing screens, deft cutting and of course, stellar shooting from the perimeter, led wire to wire.
Amazingly enough, the Bees were missing guards J.C. Sejba, a senior, and Tommy Barth, a junior.
In the end, though, Brecksville still had too many weapons for Falls, which remains winless in 2020.
"Their size and athleticism hurt us down low," Taylor said. "I thought we did a decent job, but they got so many extra opportunities. We just have to step it up with our physicality a little bit, so they don’t get those opportunities."
The Bees had a near two-to-one advantage on the glass. Brecksville was particularly menacing on the offensive end. The Bees grabbed 13 offensive rebounds.
They had a secret weapon on this night, as well.
Six-foot-6 freshman forward Chase Garito had the game of his life, thanks to his ability to hit one mid-range jumper after another. Garito finished with a career-high 16 points and also grabbed eight rebounds.
"He wasn’t supposed to make those," Taylor deadpanned. "Give him credit; he stepped up and made them. It wasn’t like it was a layup. There were a lot of 12- to 15-footers."
The Black Tigers didn’t fade into the night with a whimper, though.
They started the third quarter with a 9-0 run to cut their deficit to six (32-26). However, Brecksville called a timeout and then proceeded to score the next seven points to take control again.
"In the Tallmadge game, we could have folded it up and it could have gotten really ugly," Taylor said. "[Friday], when they made their runs, we could have folded up. They made a few runs, but we countered with our own run. Unfortunately, the last run that they made pushed it out and we couldn’t get any closer."
Taylor was referring to the Black Tigers’ 65-39 loss to the Blue Devils Jan. 28 at James O. Maddox Court. Falls spotted Tallmadge the first 25 points in that game.
It was another double-digit loss, but at least it was a vast improvement from the previous debacle, right?
Taylor certainly thinks so.
"The fact that we’re not rolling over and getting beat by 30, I think that’s a positive," he said. "There’s no moral victories in it, but the fact that we’re moving in that direction and competing for four quarters, I think that’s a positive as well."
Three players, including Garito, accumulated close to 90 percent of the points for the Bees. Junior forward Joe Labas, a standout quarterback for Brecksville’s football team, showed both an impressive inside and outside game as he led all players with 17 points. He also had seven rebounds.
"We didn’t have an answer for Labas obviously," Taylor said. "He’s good. He’s strong. He’s athletic."
Sophomore guard Tyler Ganley added 14 points for the Bees.
The most encouraging sign for the Black Tigers was the steady progress of junior guard Kyler Tepus, who recently returned to the floor after missing several games with an illness.
Tepus scored a team-high 16 points, mostly on catch-and-shoot jumpers off screens.
"Kyler played well," Taylor said.
Junior point guard Trinny Henderson added eight points for Falls, which missed its share of open shots and was just 8-of-13 from the foul line.
Brecksville, on the other hand, shot a very respectable 47 percent (23-of-49) from the floor. Most of the Bees’ field goals came from perimeter shots.
So much for being undermanned, huh? If you pay a visit to Broadview Heights, you better be able to put points on the scoreboard.
As it has proven many times over the years, this particular beehive often features its fair share of deadly swarms.
"I don’t care how good you are, it’s hard to guard five guys," Taylor said. "There was that one breakdown and they took advantage of it."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.