Nordonia boys basketball opens 2021 with rout of CVCA

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Nordonia forward Joel Jones bring the ball ahead during the Knights' 68-30 home win over CVCA Saturday.

MACEDONIA — For both the Nordonia and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy boys basketball programs, the best thing about December was simple.

Both teams were able to play something resembling a full schedule while much of Summit County's high school basketball scene was shut down.

When the two sides met at Nordonia's Griffin Gymnasium Saturday, the Knights came in looking to bounce back from a 53-50 loss at University School Dec. 29.

On its Senior Night, Nordonia played perhaps the best game of the Dominique Sanders era. The Knights opened the game on a 12-3 run and never looked back, running away with a 68-30 win over the Royals.

CVCA guard Andrew Hendricks looks to dribble past Nordonia's Anthony Lee during the Royals' 68-30 loss at Nordonia Saturday.

Nordonia (4-7) honored seniors George Jones, Joel Jones, Toussaint Perry-Hanley, Luke Tyukodi, Damon Wallace and Anthony Lee before the game. All six seniors played major roles in the rout.

Sanders admitted the result was the realization of everything he hoped his team could be on offense and defense.

"I think even in the losses we've had the last two weeks, we've played well," he said. "We played a good University team down to the wire. We preach perseverance, and we've told the guys, once we get over the hump, we can start winning games.

"I believe this is great for our team going forward. I honestly think we can beat anyone if we play like this."

Good as the night was for Nordonia, CVCA coach Matt Futch admitted Murphy's Law reigned over the Royals (4-4).

"That defensive pressure of theirs bothered us all night," Futch said. "Our guards were not able to handle it at all. That's one thing we need to improve on.

"We do not see that kind of athleticism in the PAC [Principals Athletic Conference]. At the same time, we haven't been taking care of business in the PAC like we should, either. This is good for us to play a team with this kind of style."

Nordonia forced 27 turnovers, while only allowing 30 CVCA points. The Royals offense was out of sync all night, as CVCA missed starting center Carter Young.

"Fourteen points and eight rebounds a game is what Carter has been averaging, though that wouldn't have made up 38 points," Futch said. "His leadership was really missed. Just be able to slow down guys a bit."

Although Nordonia got contributions from all over, George Jones was the tone-setter. The diminutive guard was a menace on defense, forcing turnovers and drawing three offensive fouls on CVCA.

"George Jones is a tremendous defender," Sanders said. "He's our best on-ball defender. We felt he could have an impact, because we felt ball handling wasn't their strong suit."

The Knights also knocked down some early 3-pointers to extend CVCA's defense. Tyukodi took advantage by scoring seven of his 11 points in the first quarter.

Nordonia had a 16-7 lead after one quarter, but the rout began in earnest in the second.

After CVCA scored the first four points of the second quarter, Nordonia finished on a 14-1 run.

Lee looks to have his offensive game back, as he slashed his way to 13 points, including seven in the second quarter.

"Anthony played a good game against US, as well," Sanders said. "He has that look in his eyes that his confidence is back, which is a good thing."

Nordonia took a 30-12 lead at the half, but kept pouring it on.

After being a non-factor for much of the first half because of fouls, Nordonia forward Damon Wallace asserted himself after halftime.

"He told me at halftime that he wanted the ball," Sanders said of Wallace. "I love was Damon has been doing for us."

Wallace scored Nordonia's first nine points of the second half on his way to a game-high 15 points and six rebounds.

He ignited a 19-2 run for Nordonia to start the second half, allowing Sanders to empty his bench midway through the third quarter.

Up 53-17 after three quarters, the Knights led by as many as 44 points before Sanders pulled all of his starters

Nordonia also had its best night of the year at the free-throw line, going 18-of-22.

CVCA was led by 11 points from junior guard Seth Bagwell.

Sanders said he's looking forward to getting back to Suburban League business this month, as the majority of National Conference schools are scheduled to emerge from COVID-related pause this week.

"We're excited about this month because it's pretty much all league games," Sanders said. "We've got the defending champion [North Royalton] coming in here on Tuesday, so it's a big test for us."

Nordonia will travel to backyard rival Twinsburg at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 9.

CVCA was set to play at Triway at 7 p.m. Jan. 8.