High school boys basketball / Stow 56, Cuyahoga Falls 51: Bulldogs hold off Black Tigers

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Stow's Desmond Copeland, right, is fouled while shooting by Cuyahoga Falls' Kyler Tepus during the first half of the Bulldogs' 56-51 win Monday night in Stow. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

STOW — Thanks to several COVID-19 delays, the game between Stow-Munroe Falls and Cuyahoga Falls was rescheduled for after the regular season is usually over.

The pandemic has thrown both teams for loop this winter.

Stow was just coming out of its latest COVID pause, having just returned to practice Saturday. Meanwhile, Falls was playing its sixth game in eight days after earlier COVID delays.

The Falls offense looked sharper at times, but Stow had just enough firepower at the end for a 56-51 win that continued its recent dominance in the rivalry.

Falls (3-13, 0-7 in the National Conference) lost despite making 10 3-pointers in the regular-season finale for each team at James G. Tyree Gymnasium.

Stow coach Dave Close said his defense didn't have its best night.

"We didn't have a very good night defensively," Close said. "Sometimes, we left their shooters open and sometimes we got to them and didn't guard them, which is unbelievable.

"We've done a very good job on defense this year, so we have to fix things up."

Falls coach Todd Taylor said giving the team Sunday off helped the Black Tigers recover.

"As a team, we shot the ball very well tonight," Taylor said. "We started well, which was important. Brennen [Guerin] got going for us early and Kyler [Tepus] picked it up from there."

Cuyahoga Falls' Brennan Guerin, right, makes his way past Stow's Jack Bryden during the first half of the Bulldogs' 56-51 win Monday night. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

Guerin had perhaps his best performance of the season, finishing with a game-high 20 points, including five 3-pointers. He scored eight points in the first quarter to give Falls a 10-5 lead.

The Bulldogs (10-8, 4-3) answered by going back to their post game. Coming off the bench, forward Desmond Copeland scored nine points, allowing Stow to close the gap to 13-11 after the first quarter.

Copeland and center Van Shyjka owned the paint, and Stow finished with a 30-17 edge in rebounds. Copeland and Shyjka led Stow with 13 points and nine rebounds each.

Shyjka keyed a 13-3 run to close out the first half and the Bulldogs led 26-18

"We were a little rusty on offense tonight," Close said. "I don't want to make excuses. It's hard to take two weeks off, then come back after two practices and play."

Stow started to pull away in the third quarter, but then Tepus stepped up for Falls. After a scoreless first half, he converted a three-point play and made a 3-pointer, helping the Black Tigers cut the lead to 38-33 after three quarters.

Tepus finished with 12 points.

The fourth quarter was a classic inside vs. outside battle as Stow continued to pound the ball down low.

The Bulldogs were able to get several baskets in the fourth quarter, but an inconsistent night at the free-throw line hurt them. Stow was just 10-of-20 from the line and Falls went 10 of 15.

A 3-pointer by Tepus cut Stow's lead to 48-46 with 2:30 left and Taylor called the first of many timeouts down the stretch.

The Black Tigers hung in there and trailed by three with 8.9 seconds left.

Falls point guard Trinny Henderson drove and was fouled. He made the first free throw before intentionally missing the second. Stow's Marvin Campbell grabbed the rebound and was fouled.

guard Cale Marconi nailed both ends of a one-and-one with 20.4 seconds left. However, Guerin answered by hitting both ends of one-and-one and Nick Timberlake missed the front end of his bonus situation.

Campbell made his first free throw, but a lane violation gave Falls one last chance with 1.3 seconds left.

The Black Tigers' inbounds pass deflected off a rafter and Stow completed the scoring with Campbell making a layup off the inbounds pass.

Campbell finished with 12 points for Stow.