Nordonia grinds out second consecutive win over Falls

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Cuyahoga Falls' Isaiah Campbell drives to the basket during the Black Tigers' 47-33 home loss to Nordonia Wednesday.
Nordonia center Damon Wallace pulls down a rebound during the Knights' 47-33 win at Cuyahoga Falls Wednesday.

CUYAHOGA FALLS — Having played each other the previous Friday, there wasn't a lot of mystery when Cuyahoga Falls hosted Nordonia Wednesday at Tom Jones Court.

But the game didn't follow the same script as before.

Both teams endured some putrid shooting in the first half, though neither team was truly at fault. The rims at Jones Court were so tight, both teams had at least 10 shots rim out after being halfway down.

"We talked about it at halftime. We said we're doing a great job executing on offense; there's just a lid on the basket," said Nordonia coach Dominique Sanders, whose Knights powered through their shooting woes for second consecutive win over Falls, 47-33.

"We've been in that funk that last few games," Falls coach Todd Taylor said. "Last night, we shot well in the third quarter, but we just haven't shot well."

The Knights (10-11) pounded the ball low, leading to a third consecutive victory overall.

"They kept at it and started to find ways to score in the second half," Sanders said. "I think Todd is doing an excellent job with Falls. Even though they're not that big, they play physical, especially around the rim."

Although Falls' shooting woes continued, the Black Tigers (2-11) showed a lot of energy, despite playing their third game in as many days — including an overtime loss to Tallmadge the previous night.

"We've not been able to hit 3-pointers," Taylor said. "We just need to find other ways to score.

"I'm very proud of the effort our team gave. Right until the final whistle we kept going. They've busted their butts the last three days."

Aside from two 3-pointers by Nordonia guard Anthony Lee, neither team was able to get any field goal in the first quarter. Nordonia took a 7-2 lead.

After an excellent night from the free-throw line against Falls Friday, Nordonia went just 3-of-13 from the line Wednesday. Falls went 10-of-14 from the stripe, which kept them within shouting distance for much of the game.

As the game went on, Nordonia grabbed more control of the boards. Senior center Damon Wallace anchored that effort, as he finished with eight points and 13 rebounds.

"He just has to learn to catch and elevate before the defense gets there," Sanders said.

Nordonia led 21-11 at the half, but Falls cut the lead to 25-18 before the Knights seemed to find another gear in the third quarter.

One key for the Knights' better play was reserve forward Vince McFarland, who showed off some nice post moves in the second quarter. McFarland had the best game of his varsity career with nine points and 10 rebounds.

"That's the beast we've been seeing since July," Sanders said. "In terms of talent, Vince is a top-five guy in our program."

McFarland helped the Knights finish the third quarter on a 7-1 run, giving them a 39-23 lead after three quarters.

Nordonia pushed the lead out to 20 points before Sanders emptied his bench with 3:40 to play.

Against the Knights' reserves, however, Falls rattled off an 8-0 run, led by senior guard Kyler Tepus.

Tepus and Lee each finished with a game-high 10 points, as Tepus scored six points in the third quarter.

An annoyed Sanders put his starters back in with 1:30 left in the game, but the lead was never in doubt.

Nordonia was set to close out the regular season against North Royalton Friday. Sanders noted he would love to enter the playoffs with a win over the two-time National Conference champions.

Meanwhile, Falls continues its brutal schedule in the final week of the season. After games Friday and Saturday, the Black Tigers will close out the season Monday against Stow-Munroe Falls.