Cloverleaf's Cruz Severson (15) loses a rebound in front of Rittman's Justin Flaisman (50) in the first half of Friday's game at Cloverleaf High School. (NICK CAMMETT/GAZETTE)
WESTFIELD TWP. — The Cloverleaf boys basketball team will have to rebound following a lopsided 70-42 season-opening loss to Rittman, and in order to do that the Colts are going to have to rebound a lot better on the glass than they did Friday.
The bigger and stronger Indians, who are expected to contend for the Wayne County Athletic League title, dominated the Colts to the tune of 53-24 on the boards in the non-league game.
“We’ve just got to get physical,” Cloverleaf sophomore Cruz Severson said. “We’ve got to put a butt on somebody and box out and we won’t have that problem.”
Rittman, which got 15 points on five 3-pointers from Connor Stuart, killed the Colts inside all night, as 6-foot-10 center Justin Flaisman (16 points, 13 rebounds), 6-2 power forward Kaleb Bauman (20, 13) and 6-2 point guard William Swartz (13, 12) combined for 49 points and 38 rebounds.
The bulk of their points came on fairly easy putbacks.
“We work on rebounding all the time,” Cloverleaf coach Jack Banks said. “We’ve just got to match their physicality. Rebounding is all about heart. It doesn’t matter how big you are, and it doesn’t mean it’s just the big people. Our guards have to be involved. Everybody has to be involved.”
Flaisman, who didn’t play basketball as a junior, dominated early, scoring 14 points in the first half as Rittman took a 36-24 lead. His final numbers would have been even bigger, but he made just 2-of-10 free throws.
Bauman was just as good, as 15 of his points came in the opening two periods.
Cloverleaf battled early and was up 12-9 with 2:15 left in the first quarter thanks to Severson, who had already scored eight of his career-high 18 points.
The Colts were down just 18-17 following a Severson three at the 7:10 mark of the second quarter, but Rittman dominated from that point. Relying on solid man-to-man defense and mixing in occasional pressure, the Indians went on a 13-0 run to take a 31-17 lead with 2:48 left in the opening half.
“I liked the way we started off,” Banks said. “We played really well there. That was the smidgen of what we’re going to try to do this year.”
The biggest bright spot for the Colts was the 6-1 Severson, whose 14 first-half points were one more than he scored at the varsity level all of last season.
“It felt awesome,” he said. “I was making threes and everybody was supporting me. That encouraged me to keep shooting.”
Unfortunately for the Colts, everyone else outside of power forward Joe Rohde (9 points, 7 rebounds) struggled at the offensive end on what ended up being a 14-for-50 shooting night for Cloverleaf, which also had turnover issues.
Severson was 5-for-8 from the floor and 4-for-6 from behind the arc, while Rohde was 4-for-6 from the field. The rest of the team went 5-for-36 (.139).
Sophomore Brycen Holliday, Cloverleaf’s leading scorer last season at 10.3 a game, finished with a decent stat line (6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) but went 2-for-8 from the field and 0-for-5 on 3-pointers, while Joe Maloney was 0-for-7 and 0-for-5 as players not named Severson went 0-for-14 from deep.
“If we don’t run our plays right and don’t get to our spots, it just goes downhill,” Severson said.
Rittman outscored Cloverleaf 18-7 in the third period to go up 54-31 and went on to lead by as many as 31 before both teams cleared their benches.
“If you’re struggling on the offensive end, there’s other things you can do,” Banks said. “You can be a great defensive player. You can pass. Find the hot guy, and that was (Severson).
“We’re just struggling to score points. It’s always been that way.”
Rittman won the junior varsity game 43-38 in double overtime. Nate Riley led Cloverleaf with 13 points. The Colts had a chance to win the game following an intentional foul by the Indians with 2.8 seconds left in regulation, but missed both free throws.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.
Rittman 70, Cloverleaf 42
RITTMAN 15 21 18 16 — 70
CLOVERLEAF 12 12 7 11 — 42
Rittman — Tony Ramsier 0-0-0, Kaleb Bauman 7-5-20, Justin Flaisman 7-2-16, Connor Stuart 5-0-15, William Swartz 6-1-13, Kyle Schiebe 1-1-3, Garrett Yarman 1-0-2, Tyler Davis 0-0-0, Bryce Posten 0-0-0, Mason Wilson 0-0-0, Jacob Carr 0-1-1. TOTALS: 27-10-70.
Cloverleaf — Cruz Severson 7-0-18, Joe Rohde 4-1-9, Sylar Jones 0-1-1, Joe Maloney 0-2-2, Brycen Holliday 2-2-6, Travis Hissom 1-2-4, Matt Tanko 0-1-1, Tyler Webb 0-1-1, Nick Bailey 0-0-0, Keyghan James 0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-10-42.
3-point goals — Stuart 5, Bauman, Severson 4. Rebounds — Rittman 53 (Flaisman, Bauman 13), Cloverleaf 24 (Rhode 7). Assists — Rittman 10 (Stuart, Bauman, Yarman 3), Cloverleaf 8 (Holliday 3). Records — Rittman (1-0), Cloverleaf (0-1). Junior varsity — Rittman 43, Cloverleaf 38 (2OT).