Boys basketball: Wadsworth hangs on to beat Stow 67-63 in final game before shutdown
STOW — Before it welcomed Wadsworth to the James. G Tyree Gymnasium Dec. 8, the Stow-Munroe Falls boys basketball team received some lousy — if not totally unexpected — news.
At its Dec. 7 meeting, the Stow-Munroe Falls Board of Education moved to shut down all Bulldogs athletic activities, per new guidelines from Summit County Public Health. Stow will pause practices until Jan. 4 and games until Jan. 11.
"The kids were devastated by that news," Stow coach Dave Close said. "The coaches were devastated by that news. We talked to them about controlling things that we can control. We're going to make the best of a difficult situation."
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they were unable to win their final game before the pause.
Wadsworth was on fire in the second quarter and took a 16-point lead at the half. Stow (0-3, 0-2) rallied to tied the score with just over a minute left, but the Grizzlies (1-1, 1-0) scored the final four points to claim a 67-63 Suburban League National Conference win.
Wadsworth assistant Scott Callaghan noted the win was the Grizzlies' first in Tyree Gymnasium since 1997 — when current coach Mike Moser played for Wadsworth.
"It's just a mentality we're trying to build in this program," Moser said. "We challenged them to go out and pick a fight tonight. They did. These are the kind of game we shouldn't be winning and we're trying to change that."
The key for Wadsworth was a near-perfect second quarter from the field and great outside shooting. The Grizzlies nailed 10 3-pointers in the game to just three for Stow.
"We let them get very comfortable shooting in the first half," Close said. "They got way too many easy baskets. We had some matchup problems because they had some big men that could shoot.
"You can pressure the ball more. We made some adjustments defensively and I think we did a better job in second half."
The big men for both teams were the stars of the night. Wadsworth senior forward Owen Simmons led all scorers with 24 points and had eight rebounds.
"Owen was animal for us tonight," Moser said. "He altered so many shots down low. He did what a senior captain is supposed to do."
Meanwhile, junior Connor Sams was pressed into point guard duty at times for the Grizzlies, but he still finished with 19 points.
"It was pretty wide open the first half," Sams said. "We had a lot of guys that were making shots."
After seven lead changes in the first quarter, Wadsworth erupted in the second quarter. The Grizzlies shot 9-of-10 from the field, including three 3-pointers by Simmons in the quarter.
A 9-2 run by the Grizzlies to start the quarter led to Wadsworth scoring 28 points and heading to halftime with a 42-26 lead.
Stow, however, proved to be down but not out.
The Bulldogs turned to senior Jack Bryden for his work on the defensive end, which slowed Sams at least a bit.
Meanwhile, Stow kept working its inside-out offense. Junior Marvin Campbell led Stow with a double-double, with a team-high 16 points and 11 rebounds.
"He's a talented young man," Close said of Campbell. "He did a great job tonight, and we're looking to see what he can do in the future."
Guard Deon Horn Jr. also started to the find his range, scoring eight of his 11 points in the third. Stow finished the quarter on a 17-6 run, cutting the deficit to 51-46 after three.
The Bulldogs kept chipping away, despite Grizzlies star Soloman Callaghan doing good work in the fourth quarter. Callagher scored seven of his 10 points in the fourth quarter and had some key rebounds.
However, Stow seemed to have the momentum late. With 1:09 left in the game, Sams fouled out when he hit Stow center Van Shyjka on a layup.
Shyjka nailed both free throws to tie the score 63-63. He finishe with 14 points.
But Simmons replied for Wadsworth with an acrobatic layup over some good defense by Campbell with 41 seconds left.
"They were very right-hand dominant and I think we let them get to their right hand more than I would have liked," Close said. "It was great shot."
Stow's Cale Marconi had a 3-pointer rattle off the rim. Callaghan rebounded and was fouled.
After Callaghan split two free throws, Horn had his 3-point attempt partially blocked with 2.1 seconds left. Simmons then split another pair of free throws to ice the game.
Stow got 11 points from forward Desmond Copeland off the bench.