SULLIVAN TWP. — Coming off a pair of wins and hosting the only team it had beaten in the Patriot Athletic Conference, the Black River boys basketball was staring down a three-game winning streak for the first time in eight years.
But Firelands junior center Jacob Schmitz had a different plan Friday night, scoring 10 of his season-high 24 points in the first quarter as the Falcons gained revenge for an early-season loss with a 58-39 PAC Stars Division victory.
“We just didn’t show up,” Black River senior forward Brennan Scheck said. “We didn’t attack enough. We didn’t penetrate their zone.”
In the first meeting on Dec. 21, Black River (4-10, 1-10) got the lead early but had to rally late on a Jay Chidsey 3-pointer with 35 seconds to play. This time, Firelands (4-12, 4-7) raced to an 8-0 lead, used a 14-3 run to go up 11 at halftime and never looked back.
“The first game they played man and zone, and their man we were able to beat because we’re pretty good at penetrating,” Scheck said. “But we knew they were just going to play zone and pack it in, and they knew where myself and Jay Chidsey were all the time.”
That left little room for either to get off shots. Scheck was 2-of-7 from the field for six points, while Chidsey led the Pirates with 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting, but three 3-pointers came in the fourth with the game already decided.
Caleb Poldruhi led Black River with 21 points in the first game but was held to just five points Friday on 1-for-11 shooting.
“We stayed in zone the whole night and were able to get out on their shooters and create some turnovers,” Firelands coach Alan Januzzi said.
When the Falcons got the ball on offense, they fed Schmitz and sophomore Mitchell Hodges time and again. Schmitz finished 10-for-16 from the floor with eight rebounds and four blocks, while Hodges had 15 points and nine rebounds as Firelands scored 32 points in the paint.
“Their big kids have gotten a lot better,” Black River coach Randy Endsley II said. “They’ve done a real nice job with (Schmitz). His footwork was really good. And the same with (Hodges). They worked really well together and they played hard.”
Firelands raced to a 14-6 lead in the first quarter, but Black River used an 8-0 run to tie the game and kept it tied at 19 in the second quarter before a Schmitz layup keyed the 14-3 run to end the first half.
The Pirates were held to just four points in the third quarter on 2-for-16 shooting and never got closer than 11 points in the second half. Black River made 18 turnovers, including 16 in the first three quarters.
“We struggled and we missed a lot of shots early,” Endsley said. “We didn’t do a good job of penetrating against their zone early on.”
When 6-foot-9 senior Jonathan Herb (6 points, game-high 11 rebounds) had to go to the bench for rest, the Pirates had no answer for Schmitz and Hodges inside.
“They’ve got tall guys, and they gave us trouble tonight,” Scheck said. “If it wasn’t for our 6-9 guy, we wouldn’t have had anything for them. But even their guards were crashing the boards. We’d finally get their big guys boxed out and then the ball would go right to their guards. It was kind of demoralizing.”
Endsley said the team was prepared for all the zones it saw — a 1-3-1 as the base, a 2-3 after Firelands made shots and a 3-2 thrown in — but the team “just didn’t do very well against any of them.”
Firelands rallied for a 37-34 junior varsity win, getting a free throw from Evin Denney with 7.3 seconds left to break a 34-34 tie. Gavin Ford had 17 points for Black River to lead all scorers.
Contact Chris Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Firelands 58, Black River 39
FIRELANDS 14 19 12 13 — 58
BLACK RIVER 12 10 4 13 — 39
Firelands — Alex Angle 3-0-6, Mitchell Hodges 7-1-15, Jacob Schmitz 10-4-24, Austin Urban 3-0-9, Casey Kelley 1-2-4, Jackson Talbott 0-0-0, Caden Bomback 0-0-0, Jacob Farley 0-0-0, Evan Zidar 0-0-0, Jacob Mullins 0-0-0, Kyle Ransom 0-0-0, Steven Iwanek 0-0-0. TOTALS: 24-7-58.
Black River — Brennan Scheck 2-0-6, Caleb Simonson 2-0-4, Jonathan Herb 3-0-6, Caleb Poldruhi 1-3-5, Devon McLean 1-0-3, Jay Chidsey 4-2-14, Gavin Ford 0-0-0, Devin Humphreys 0-0-0, Ryan Schultz 0-0-0, Kyle Potter 0-0-0, Zach Foster 0-1-1. TOTALS: 13-6-39.
3-point goals — Urban 3, Chidsey 4, Scheck 2, McLean. Rebounds — Firelands 42 (Hughes, Angle 9), Black River 40 (Herb 11). Assists — Firelands 16 (Kelley 8), Black River 11 (Poldruhi, McLean 5). Records — Firelands (4-12, 4-7), Black River (4-10, 1-10). Junior varsity — Firelands 37, Black River 34.