Big Red downs Brooke

WELLSBURG – Big Red put on a long-range shooting clinic inside the Brooke Wellness Center Friday.

The Red drained 14 of 22 (64 percent) three-point tries to spoil Brooke’s Senior Night celebration with an 82-49 victory.

Seven of the trifectas (Adam Sterling swished five) came during the fourth quarter when Mike Haney’s crew outscored the Bruins 32-8 to put its 16th victory in 19 outings on ice.

Brooke, now 8-6, trailed 40-29 at half. A putback by Big Red freshman Charles Reeves put the visitors up 13 to start the third. Dave Reitter’s crew then turned up the defensive pressure, forcing four consecutive Big Red turnovers. Four points from Aquil Dameron along with buckets by Nathan Green, Thomas Cole and Nick DeStefano pulled the hosts to within three (42-39).

From there, it was all Big Red. Triples by Lucas Herrington and Sterling along with a Brandon Herring-Hill hoop on a run out put the Red ahead 50-41 heading into the fourth.

Sterling started the final eight minutes by nailing two long-range bombs. Free throws by Sterling and Herring-Hill capped a 14-0 Big Red scoring burst and made the score 59-41. Dionee Wallace Jones and Raekwon Williams also drained final period triples. Big Red outscored Brooke 40-10 from late in the third to the final buzzer.

“This is a big win for us,” a jubilant Haney said. “Brooke is a very good basketball team and you always get nervous when you play them. They can put points on the board and get up and down the court. They shoot the three well and have a great inside game.

“At halftime, we were up 11 and we talked about winning the third quarter. We actually lost that quarter (12-10) so we said we had to win the fourth to win this game. We got out there, got hot with some shots and played great defense.”

For the night, Big Red took 58 total shots and hit 30 (52 percent). The winners were 16 of 29 during the opening half. Brooke, on the other hand, struggled from the floor, making just 22 of 65 (34 percent).

“It was one of those times when they ball just didn’t drop for us on our home court,” Reitter explained. “We work on shooting every day. We talked about composure and maintaining it. We knew we had to be able to handle their scoring runs. Our composure left us at times and that hurt.

“We made a little run and go to within three and we were playing like we wanted. They came down and hit a three then we tried to answer with a three. You have to take good shots in situations like that. Big Red forced us to play a half court set offensively and we didn’t handle it very well. Give them credit for playing good defense and shooting lights out.”

Sterling, who had four dunks against Cambridge earlier in the week, finished with a career high 34 points. He had seven triples. The senior also pulled down 12 rebounds and recorded four steals. Reeves also had a double-double (14 points and 12 boards). Herring-Hill netted 10 and doled out six assists. Herrington drained three long balls to finish with nine. Chris Smith added five assists.

Big Red used a 1-3-1 half court zone in building its first half lead and forcing 10 Bruin turnovers.

“For me, it all starts with our defense,” Haney commented. “I thought we really got after it and played great team defense. Lucas (Herrington) did an outstanding job on (Russell) Schwertfeger. We know he is their main scorer and we wanted to keep a body on him.

“In our zone, we had guys with length out front and were able to contest a lot of shots. That defense worked really well in the second quarter.”

Sophomore Thomas Cole had his usual big night for the Bruins. He scored 18 points and recorded 15 rebounds. Schwertfeger was limited to nine points while Dameron recorded eight.

“We are a team that lives off its defense,” Reitter stated. “We keep telling them there are going to be times when you have to play a half court set offensively with somebody. We didn’t execute what we wanted to accomplish against their zone.

“Big Red played well defensively and they found the open guy on the offensive end and hit their shots.”

Both teams return to action Tuesday in OVAC tournament semifinal contests. Big Red, the No. 2 seed in Class 4A, hosts East Liverpool. Brooke, the three seed in Class 5A, will visit Wheeling Park.

“Starting with Cambridge, we told our guys every game is going to have a playoff atmosphere,” Haney said. “We won two big games with a couple of 5A schools in a row. Now we have to get ready for a big one at home against East Liverpool.”

As Reitter noted, Friday’s loss is “not the end of the world” for his Bruins.

“We still have eight left and we need to get ready for Wheeling Park in the OVACs,” he pointed out.