Brooke avoids late Oak Glen surge for three-point victory
WELLSBURG — When Evan Cuomo swished a 3-pointer at the 2:55 mark of the third quarter, the Brooke boys basketball team seemed in total control with a 16-point lead.
Oak Glen had other ideas as it outscored the Bruins by 13 the rest of the way but fell short and lost its third game in four starts by a score of 54-51. The win evened the Brooke record at 2-2.
Second-year Brooke coach Cam Koehler got some of his younger kids into the game in the third period, and his team went cold offensively.
“I put some of our younger guys in to try to get some burn on them, and they stepped up to the plate and played alright. It was a trial by fire for some of them,” Koehler said. “We regained control late, but the program we are trying to put together and the direction we’re trying to go is about winning, and my guys are starting to grasp that idea.”
It didn’t look like it in the final two minutes of the game as the Golden Bears closed the gap to one point at 52-51 on a layup by Ethan Travis off of a nifty feed from veteran senior point guard Chris Kokoski. But the Brooke defense made sure that was the last goal the Golden Bears would get.
“This is such a laid back group,” said Oak Glen assistant coach Scott Wylie, who was filling in for head coach Jerry Everly due to the death of his mother. “They just kept fighting and fighting.
“Brooke kept making their shots in the first half. I think we had only two or three defensive rebounds. They were getting the offensive rebounds and putting the ball right back up. We got more aggressive in the second half, and they missed a few shots. We were able to box out better, get some rebounds and get down the floor better.”
After the Travis basket with 1:12 left in the game, Brooke worked the ball around and Koehler decided to call a timeout with 51 seconds left. Cuomo was fouled with 28 seconds left, and the senior veteran calmly strode to the charity stripe and sank the shots that ended up being the final scoring.
Wiley got a timeout 22 seconds later after senior guard Sean Smith got the ball across the center court line.
A designed 3-pointer for the tie got Wiley’s son, Wyatt, a pretty good look at the top of the key, but his shot bounced off the rim.
“It was different without coach Everly here,” Wiley said. “He’s our offensive guy who knows what to run and when to run it, so we were a little bit slow on some of that stuff tonight.
“A lot of our stuff runs through Kokoski. I think some of the things he did in the final quarter got us going. We have played like this in a couple games now. We have to start playing the games like we’ve been finishing the games.”
Koehler said his team was in situations like this last year when the Bruins won only four games.
“With us being so inexperienced last year, I think we learned the hard way,” he said. “I think now some of the guys remember the outcomes and also remember if they don’t play this certain way, we’re going to go on the bad side of it. I really think that benefited us down the stretch tonight. Do we want every game to be a nail-biter? No. But if it comes down to it, I’m confident our guys will close the game out.”
Koehler added that he knew Oak Glen had some good shooters.
“We wanted our help side defense to step up and take away those passing lanes to take those shooters away,” he said. “I think we did a pretty decent job of that in the first half. We got the momentum going our way. We were missing our starting center, Joey Georgy, who was out with a stomach virus. Some of our backup centers and the younger guys had to get some extra playing time to make up for Joey being gone.”
Even without Georgy, the Bruins outrebounded the Golden Bears 26-19. Cuomo, who ended up leading all scorers in the game with 22 points, led the Bruins on the boards with six rebounds.
“We’ve been waiting for Evan to emerge as one of our leaders,” Koehler said. “We saw it last year at times where he came up and took over the game. When he relaxes and does what he’s good at, he’s a pretty tough player. But to this point he’s been forcing a lot of opportunities offensively, which has led to poor defensive play because he gets frustrated. Tonight, he was able to open up a little bit and knock some shots down and really develop into the player I’ve been waiting for.”
The Bruins hit the boards Saturday, hosting St. Clairsville at the Brooke Wellness Center. The Golden Bears stay on the road Saturday, playing at cross river rival Wellsville.
Brooke 54, Oak Glen 51
Oak Glen 8-13-11-19 — 51
Brooke 14-18-12-10 — 54
OAK GLEN (1-3): Wiley 1 0-0 3; Smith 2 0-0 6; Gittings 1 1-1 3; Kokoski 5 2-4 13; Poling 3 4-6 12; Travis 2 5-7 9; Staub 2 1-3 5. TOTALS: 16 13-21 51. 3-POINT GOALS: Poling 2, Smith 2, Wiley, Kokoski; Rebounds: 19 (Travis 7); Turnovers: 10.
BROOKE (2-2): Moore 3 0-0 6; Shelton 5 1-1 12; Williams 2 2-2 8; Cuomo 7 5-7 22; Pennybacker 1 1-2 4; Pauls 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 19 9-12 54. 3-POINT GOALS: Cuomo 3, Williams 2, Shelton, Pennybacker; Rebounds: 26 (Cuomo 6); Turnovers: 9.