Brecksville grinds out tight win over Nordonia boys basketball

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Nordonia guard Luke Tyukodi attempts to fend off a Brecksville-Broadview Height defender during the Knights' 48-45 loss at Brecksville Dec. 11.
Nordonia forward Damon Wallace puts up a layup around Brecksville-Broadview Heights' Tyler Ganley during the Knights 48-45 loss at Brecksville Dec. 11.

BROADVIEW HEIGHTS — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced local programs to get flexible with their scheduling.

An example of that came Dec. 11 when Nordonia traveled to Brecksville-Broadview Heights for a rescheduled game for both teams. It was the season opener for Brecksville, having just come out of a three-week pause due to the pandemic.

In a Suburban League National Conference game that was competitive and often ugly, Brecksville hung on for a 48-45 win over the Knights (2-4, 1-2).

The good news for Nordonia is it won't have to wait long for another shot at the Bees. The two teams are scheduled to play at Nordonia at 7 p.m. Dec. 15.

"The shots weren't falling tonight for us," Nordonia coach Dominique Sanders said. "It was a really grinding game. That's what the zone [defense] is intended to do. What hurt us was the fact we gave them too many second-chance opportunities."

Bees coach Steve Mehalik noted his team did well to grind out the win, as center Chase Garito was still in quarantine.

"I give [Nordonia] credit," Mehalik said. "They were relentless. They kept coming after us.

"We survived. Matty Rose did a great job tonight on the boards. He's our warrior down there."

Nordonia started off well, opening the game with 7-0 run. However, in a sign of things to come, Brecksville answered with an 8-1 run and led 12-10 after one quarter.

The Knights seem to have issues with Brecksville's match-up zone.

"I think we were stagnant against it in the first half," Sanders said. "The long rebounds hurt us. We've got to do a better job rebounding on the perimeter."

Brecksville's offense had issues as well, as the free-shooting Bees did not have a great night from beyond the arc.

Brecksville did take advantage of its free throws, going 7-of-8 from the line in the first half and 14-of-19 for the game. Nordonia finished 8-of-15 from the line.

Behind 13 first-half points by guard Luke Ganim, Brecksville took a 24-22 halftime lead.

"Luke is just so athletic. He carried us for a long time in the first half," Mehalik said. "Isn't that what a senior is supposed to do?"

Nordonia looked to be in trouble early in the third quarter.

After Knights guard Luke Tyukodi opened the second half with a 3, the Bees rattled off a 10-0 run, forcing Sanders to call timeout.

Down 34-25, however, the Knights showed their mettle.

"We told our guys that they were going to make a run," Sanders said. "Great teams always do. Our guys did a great job battling. Our bench bunch really played well to sustain that run."

Thanks to some dirty work by reserve forward Vincent McFarland, the Knights finished the third quarter on a 9-0 run that tied the score 34-34 heading into the fourth quarter.

The tension kept rising in the final eight minutes until Bees guard Tyler Ganley started to find his range. He made two 3-pointers to help the Bees stretch the lead to 40-35 at one point.

Ganley led all scorers with 16 points.

Once again, the Knights responded. Forward Joel Jones started driving to the basket, trying to will Nordonia to victory. Jones led the Knights with 15 points.

"Joel Jones is a team player," Sanders said. "He'll do anything that you ask of him. Tonight was the Joel Jones that we need every night from him."

With Brecksville clinging to a two-point lead with a minute left, the Bees tried to kill the clock, forcing Nordonia into fouling mode.

The Bees hit just enough free throws — including splitting a pair after a technical foul on Sanders — to maintain the lead.

A layup by Anthony Lee cut the deficit to 46-44 and Nordonia called timeout, but Ganley hit a pair of free throws to put things out of reach.

With 1.9 seconds left, Jones made one free throw and deliberately missed the second to give the Knights a chance. However, Nordonia's desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer fell short.

Rose finished with seven points and 12 rebounds for the Bees, and forward Damon Wallace finished with seven points and 11 rebounds for the Knights.