Thursday, March 22, 2018 Medina 22°

High School Basketball

Christian Szalay, Tony Hewitt come to Wadsworth's rescue in win over Firestone

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    Wadsworth's Tony Hewitt scores past Firestone defender J'Vionne Ingol in the first half.


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    Wadsworth's Jack Simmons scores past Firestone defender Justice Lane in the first half.



WADSWORTH — Christian Szalay and Tony Hewitt had been playing together far too long to allow the Wadsworth boys basketball team to be upset in a Barberton Division I Sectional opener.

Taken to the limit by ninth-seeded Firestone on Wednesday, the eighth-seeded Grizzlies needed overtime but pulled out a 65-60 win.

That brings a sectional final at top-seeded Stow (19-3) on Saturday, but Wadsworth likely wouldn’t be there without the play of their two standouts down the stretch.

“Those guys were huge,” Grizzlies coach Mike Schmeltzer Jr. said. “I mean Tony was struggling throughout the beginning of the game, and then the 3-pointer (in overtime) was huge. Then he gets a steal and nice take to the rim. When he wants to, he can take over the game. That’s what he did in overtime.”

The overtime was special, as Firestone pushed back despite being down 11 at intermission. Szalay missed a layup at the buzzer to force overtime, and then the senior tandem took over.

The fact it only took 17 seconds showed just how strong their connection was for Wadsworth (14-9).

With the scored tied at 58, Carson Risher stole a pass and got the ball to Szalay, who found Hewitt slashing to the rim to give Wadsworth its final lead with 1:32 left.

After a steal by Jack Simmons (10 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists), Szalay found Hewitt in the corner and the senior forward drained a 3-pointer to make the lead comfortable.

“We’ve been playing together since sixth grade,” Hewitt said. “It’s not like it’s just been these two or three years. It’s been like seven or eight. I was a little nervous because I wasn’t playing that well, but I wanted to get back. I eventually started getting it in my mind that I didn’t want this to slip, and I started getting on my teammates. I didn’t want this to be my last game.”

Teammates responded, as Jake Justice (19 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists), Szalay (13, 7, 2) and Simmons joined Hewitt (13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) to put away a very game Falcons team that never gave up.

“This is what we want,” Szalay said. “We made the game interesting. It could have been different. We won. We’re ready for Stow.”

Wadsworth made the game interesting by going away from what was working in a first half, when it shot 13-for-14 from inside the 3-point line and 1-for-11 beyond it.

Firestone didn’t have an answer for Wadsworth’s inside game but came back firing in the third quarter to limit the Grizzlies to a 3-for-11 effort.

Wadsworth limped into the fourth quarter up by three and traded the lead with the Falcons six times before OT. The Grizzlies still had a chance to end the game in regulation by holding the ball the final 1:48, but no matter what Schmeltzer drew up in three timeouts, Firestone had the answer.

“It wasn’t what we wanted, but it’s just another game to make us battle-tested for the tournament,” Simmons said. “We said it in the locker room. Tournament play is way different than a regular-season game, and that was definitely a tournament game.”

Contact Brad Bournival at

Wadsworth 65, Firestone 60 (OT)

Barberton Division I Sectional Semifinal

FIRESTONE 13 11 16 15 5 — 60

WADSWORTH 15 20 8 12 10 — 65

Firestone — LaFette Johnson 8-11 0-0 16, Justice Lane 5-9 6-8 16, Marcus Lee 3-5 0-0 8, Taylor Mack 3-4 1-2 8, Perrion Johnson 3-11 3-4 9, Sean Edwards 1-5 0-0 3, Zaire Singleton 0-0 0-0 0, J’Vionne Ingol 0-3 0-0 0. TOTALS: 23-48 10-14 60

Wadsworth — Tony Hewitt 5-14 2-2 13, Jack Simmons 4-11 2-2 10, Reid Black 1-1 4-4 6, Jake Justice 5-11 6-6 19, Christian Szalay 6-12 1-1 13, Mitchell Blackburn 0-0 0-0 0, Carson Risher 2-5 0-1 4, Beau Casey 0-2 0-0 0. TOTALS: 23-56 15-16 65

3-point goals — Firestone 4-10 (Lee 2-2, Mack 1-1, Edwards 1-4, P. Johnson 0-1, Lane 0-2), Wadsworth 4-26 (Justice 3-11, Hewitt 1-8, Risher 0-1, Simmons 0-2, Szalay 0-4). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Firestone 24, (Lane 8), Wadsworth 37 (Casey 8). Assists — Firestone 13 (L. Johnson 4), Wadsworth 19 (Simmons 5). Turnovers — Firestone 14 (L. Johnson, Lane, P. Johnson 3), Wadsworth 13 (Justice, Hewitt 3). Total fouls — Firestone 15, Wadsworth 12. Records — Firestone (9-13), Wadsworth (14-9).

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