BROADVIEW HTS. — Most of the time 10 days go by pretty quickly, but sometimes they can feel like an eternity.
The Wadsworth boys basketball team had been anticipating a Suburban League National Conference rematch with Brecksville and the countdown finally hit zero Friday night, with the Grizzlies rolling to a 66-40 payback victory.
The Grizzlies were determined to not give Brecksville the chance to beat them at the buzzer again and streaked to a 15-3 lead midway through the first quarter.
Senior Jake Justice (game-high 20 points) hit the first of his three first-half 3-pointers to start the run, which was capped by the Grizzlies’ third 3-pointer when senior point guard Christian Szalay (14 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists) sank a triple with 3:41 left in the period.
“We just played them and it didn’t go our way at the end,” Szalay said. “We came out, taking pride in wearing our jersey and believing we can get it done. We sure as heck can. We were ready right after the first game ended. We were all fired up. We came out with more intensity, ready to play for our city.”
The Grizzlies hit 10 shots from behind the arc, led by Szalay and Justice’s four apiece, but Wadsworth’s defense took center stage in the first half. The Grizzlies held Brecksville to just four field goals, with three coming from Bees senior center Mike Rose, who had eight of his team-high 12 points.
Athletic forward Kenny Ganley entered the night leading the SL National by a wide margin with a 19.5 scoring average but was limited to five points.
“The difference tonight was our mindset. I saw more fire out of this team tonight than probably all season,” Wadsworth coach Mike Schmeltzer Jr. said. “We’re pretty good when we get the ball up the floor.”
With only one week left in the regular season, the Grizzlies seem to be peaking at the right time.
“This team has a great attitude overall, but this team had a fire that said we aren’t going to lose this game,” Schmeltzer said. “You could see it in their faces.”
Senior forward Tony Hewitt ended the game with 11 points, a game-high 10 rebounds and four assists.
After taking an 18-9 lead after the first quarter, Wadsworth went on an 11-2 run to start the second and led 31-14 at halftime.
The Grizzlies blew it open in the third quarter, outscoring Brecksville 25-9 to lead 56-23.
“Carson Risher and Mitchell Blackburn, they started it for us. They brought a lot of defensive intensity,” Justice said. “We followed them. We played an amazing defensive game.”
Contact John Urchek at email@example.com.
Wadsworth 66, Brecksville 40
WADSWORTH 18 13 25 10 — 66
BRECKSVILLE 9 5 9 17 — 40
Wadsworth — Jake Justice 8-0-20, Tony Hewitt 5-0-11, Reid Black 2-0-4, Carson Risher 2-0-4, Christian Szalay 5-0-14, Mitchell Blackburn 0-0-0, Lance Steward 0-0-0, Jack Simmons 1-2-4, Stanley Bingham 0-2-2, Brendan Merhar 0-0-0, Jacob McDermitt 1-0-3, Beau Casey 2-0-4, Trevor Smith 0-0-0. TOTALS: 26-4-66.
Brecksville — Joe Labas 2-1-5, Kenny Ganley 2-0-5, Mike Rose 4-4-12, Thomas Green 0-0-0, Sam Wiglusz 0-3-3, J.C. Sejba 0-0-0, Nate Fuentes 1-2-5, Jacob Henyey 1-0-3, John Jesser 0-0-0, Evan Bruno 0-0-0, Jack Winegard 2-0-5, Cam Seibert 1-0-2. TOTALS: 13-10-40.
3-point goals — Szalay 4, Justice 4, Hewitt, McDermitt, Ganley, Fuentes, Henyey, Winegard. Rebounds — Wadsworth 32 (Hewitt 10), Brecksville 27 (Rose 8). Assists — Wadsworth 13 (Szalay 6), Brecksville 8 (Wiglusz 3). Records — Wadsworth (11-9, 8-5), Brecksville (13-7, 7-6). Junior varsity — Wadsworth 71, Brecksville 40.