Falls boys basketball gets first win over Mogadore

Steve Batko
Correspondent

Both mind and body are in great shape for the improving Cuyahoga Falls boys basketball team, which has often exhibited its learnings on the court in recent action.

Coaching points emphasized in practice and then demonstrated by play on the court has been evident. That’s a sign of certain progress.

It hasn’t just been a moral victory for Falls and head coach Todd Taylor.

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The Black Tigers earned an impressive win at the Spectrum Orthopedics Classic at North Canton Hoover.

Behind a strong team win, Falls ousted Mogadore 59-43 to improve to 1-4 overall Jan. 16.

Spearheading the victory was a wild 26-point fourth quarter by the Black Tigers to bust a tight game wide open.

Taylor saw his troops shine on defense and hold the experienced Wildcats (5-5) to just 15 field goals in the game while getting shots to fall on the offensive end.

Excellent shot selection and willing to make the extra pass, Falls remained patient as many of the good shots they took, just rolled off the rim early on.

Taylor can live with that because he knows good shots will eventually drop.

Those shots started to fall in a 40-point second half, including six 3-pointers as Taylor was happy to see his club stay with it.

“Both teams came out a little sluggish offensively, but need to give us both some credit with our defense early on,” noted the coach. “We missed some looks early, but the kids didn’t panic and continued to play well defensively. Late in the third quarter and throughout the fourth, we hit our stride offensively by moving the ball well, pushing the ball and knocking down four 3-pointers in the fourth and six overall for the half.”

Conditioning is not a given these days during COVID-19. Falls recently has passed the test and this bodes well for the future.

“I was proud how we seemed to find that extra gear in the fourth and extremely proud of our conditioning,” stressed Taylor, whose club held the Cats to just 17 first half points.

“The last couple of games the players’ conditioning has held up late and I hear the guys referring to the drills we do in practice,” explained Taylor. “That is a testament to their effort and practice habits. As a coach that stresses the importance of practice and how we practice will reflect how we play the game, I could not be prouder of the team.”

The dynamic senior guard duo of Trinny Henderson and Kyler Tepus is starting to get untracked.

Henderson and Mogadore’s Mason Murphy (14 points) were named players of the game for the event’s first contest.

Having a strong floor game, Henderson has not been forcing the issue in the team’s offense and has played under control as he netted 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out four assists, and had three steals.

“Trinny played a complete game offensively and defensively,” said Taylor. “He was able to get to the basket, set up the shooters and push the ball in the second half to set up high percentage shots.”

Going to his left hand on an isolation move, Henderson hit a layup and converted a 3-point play to seal the win with 2:30 left and a 57-38 lead.

Prior to that, senior Brennen Guerin buried a 3-pointer, Tepus drained a step-back three, followed by a triple by freshman Tim Mitchell and a trey by senior David Rinehart as Falls played well in transition and spaced well.

Falls led at the half as Tepus didn’t score, but the veteran wing didn’t force anything.

Using superb free throw shooting to gain some rhythm, Tepus poured in 14 second half points, including a trio of 3-point bombs in the third stanza. He also snagged nine boards.

“After a slow start, Kyler picked it up in the second half, shooting the ball with more confidence and knocking down all five free throws,” said Taylor.

Rinehart added eight points, Guerin had seven and junior Jayden Hillier hit two first-half triples and had five boards. Senior Zander Miller added three points, six boards, three blocks, and two assists.

“David (Rinehart) came off the bench and gave us a great lift knocking down a couple 3’s,” issued Taylor.

The Black Tigers fell to 0-3 in the Suburban League National Conference after a 63-55 loss at Brecksville (5-1, 4-0).

Falls trailed by 13 (49-36) at the end of three quarters, but a 16-7 run cut the lead to 56-52 with 1:37 left.

Despite the loss, the Black Tigers once again showed resiliency.

“In the fourth quarter we were able to get out and hit some 3-pointers, get to the basket and step up our defense,” pointed out Taylor. “I was extremely proud how we battled back, giving ourselves a chance, and our conditioning kicked in and we got some help off the bench by David Rinehart, Tim Mitchell and Jayden Hillier.”

The Black Tiger staff has used some different lineups this winter and are getting contributions from more athletes.

“Rinehart didn’t play the first three quarters, but once in, he collected three offensive rebounds, so I was so proud of David, he didn’t hang his head and went out and did his job for his team,” stated Taylor. “David is a great teammate.”

Tepus poured in 20 points and Hillier had 11, but Miller responded big with 10 points and his work in the paint.

“Zander (Miller) battled with a much bigger post player (6-foot-7 Chase Garito) and went toe to toe with him, holding his own,” said Taylor.