Steubenville boys cap off 2-0 stretch with another win

SAVING GRACE — Steubenville’s Dajuan Jones saves the ball from going out of bounds against Cambridge on Thursday. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

STEUBENVILLE — The Steubenville boys basketball team went into the third-annual Chuck Watt/John Nese Holiday Classic sitting at an even 2-2 mark overall and looking to get going.

Get going it did with wins on back-to-back days, capping off the event Thursday night inside the Crimson Center with a 59-53 victory over Cambridge.

“That was a very good win,” Steubenville coach Mike Haney said. “It was a very close game throughout. We were happy to get the win.”

For the second straight day, junior center James Roundtree earned the player of the game award, finishing with team highs in points (14) and rebounds (10) for a double-double in the win.

“It’s crazy,” Roundtree said of getting the honor in both games. “I feel like some of my teammates could have got it because they contributed more than I did. If it weren’t for them the game might not have turned out the same.

“It’s a great event. It makes you feel like an NBA player with an MVP award and everything. It’s a great way to honor coaches from the past who set the tone for us now.”

The contest was tied several times throughout, but Big Red (4-2) led at the end of each quarter and never trailed.

Cambridge (3-6) pulled even one last time at 49-49 with 3:15 to go in the game on a 3-pointer from junior Nicholas Oliver, but Steubenville pulled back ahead on junior guard Kevin Bishop’s second 3-point shot of the game and never looked back.

“We had opportunities,” Cambridge coach Andy Slaughter said. “We would be down four and score, but we just weren’t able to get stops when we needed them. We just weren’t able to get over that hump in the fourth quarter. Any time we would get a stop and get it tied, we could never take the lead. We would end up with some silly turnover or mistake of some sort.”

Haney thought his team made better decisions in the final eight minutes.

“We made some bad decisions on our shot selection in the third quarter but in the fourth quarter I think we played a lot smarter,” Haney said. “When you are a veteran team you are used to being in that situation. Some of those guys came up with some clutch defense there at the end with steals and blocks and stuff like that.”

Dajuan Jones was the only other Big Red player to hit double digits, coming off the bench to score 12 points with an assist and a pair of rebounds. Big Red got a total of 21 points from its bench, with Bishop putting up nine points and four assists off the bench.

“It was a really good team effort,” Roundtree said. “We had a lot of great players come off of the bench and make great plays.”

The Bobcats got a big performance from senior Connor Leppla, who finished with a game-high 24 points to go with two assists and two rebounds. Trent Valentine finished with six points and a game-high six assists.

“The Leppla kid had a heck of a game for them offensively,” Haney said. “He can go inside and he stepped out and hit a couple of threes. It was tough to defend him.”

Steubenville forced Cambridge to turn the ball over 20 times, while Big Red turned it over just 11.

“That always helps and I thought we even could have had some more,” Haney said. “In the first half there were balls that it looked like we should have had but we tipped it out of each others hands and then they would get it. We talked to them in the second half to make sure we got the steals and secured them.”

Haney was happy to see another successful event.

“It’s our third year with this and we’ve got good response from it,” he said. “It’s a great event honoring two legendary coaches.”

Cambridge faces New Philadelphia at home next Friday. Big Red returns to the Crimson Center on Saturday to battle city-rival Catholic Central in the first leg of the city championship.

Game notes:

¯ Before the game it was announced that Dick Baker of Louisville, Ohio, was the winner of the Big Red Boosters 500 Club drawing.

Steubenville 59, Cambridge 53

Cambridge 16-9-14-14 — 53

Steubenville 18-11-16-14 — 59

Cambridge (3-6): Oliver 3 0-0 7; T. Valentine 3 0-0 6; A. Valentine 0 2-2 2; Aleshire 3 3-3 10; Leppla 10 2-6 24; Kirby 2 0-0 4; Bailey 0 0-1 0; Perkins 0 0-0 0; Long 0 0-0 0; Endly 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 21, 7-12, 53.

Steubenville (4-2): Bickerstaff 2 0-0 4; Roundtree 7 0-1 14; Zimmerman 4 0-2 9; Davis 1 2-2 4; Smith 3 0-0 7; D. Jones 5 0-0 12; J. Jones 0 0-0 0; Bishop 3 1-2 9; Zane 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 25, 3-7, 59.

3-POINT GOALS: Cambridge 4 (Leppla 2, Aleshire 1, Oliver 1); Steubenville 6 (Bishop 2, D. Jones 2, Smith 1, Zimmerman 1). REBOUNDS: Cambridge 18 (Aleshire 5); Steubenville 24 (Roundtree 10). ASSISTS: Cambridge 18 (T. Valentine 6); Steubenville 17 (Bishop 4). TURNOVERS: Cambridge 20; Steubenville 11.