Everyone is quickly learning that the Cuyahoga Falls boys basketball team is the real deal.
On Tuesday night, the Black Tigers traveled to Shaker Heights to face perhaps the best team in Cuyahoga County, Northeast Ohio and possibly the state.
The Black Tigers lost to the host Red Raiders 69-62, but their record of 3-1 still represents the school's best start in many a year.
Falls coach Rob Slone said the players attitude after the loss is one reason why they are winning this year - refusing to accept defeat for any reason.
"Our kids did not feel like it showed they could go out and just play with a team that was taller than us at all but one position," Slone said. "Our kids were genuinely disappointed that they did not win the game.
"This is a group of players that is used to winning at all levels. Even with mostly sophomores and juniors last year, .500 was not good enough for them."
The Black Tigers got off to a 16-11 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Red Raiders turned things around in the second quarter with an 18-12 advantage and led 29-28 at halftime.
Shaker also won the third quarter, 17-11 to stretch the lead to 46-39 before both teams scored 23 points each in the final quarter.
Angelo Cugini led the Black Tigers with 19 points, Josh Ricker had 13 points, and Jay Slone was the other double digit scorer with 13.
Hash Blackwell led all scorers with 20 points for the Red Raiders.
On Dec. 7, Falls defeated visiting Ellet 68-37.
The Black Tigers raced out to leads of 20-8 by the end of the first quarter and 37-13 by halftime and did not take their collective foot off the accelerator.
Dionte Williams was the lone double digit scorer for the Orangemen with 13
The scoring for the Black Tigers was very balanced as Jay Slone and Devin Speicher each had 11 points and the duo combining for three 3-point shots. Josh Ricker, who also had a trey, finished with eight points, Angelo Cugini had eight and Henry Shaw added seven.
"We only missed two shots in the first quarter and if they [Ellet] don't hit a wild 3-point shot before the half, we hold them to 10 points," Slone said. "We have been better than them in the past, but usually play down to their level."
The Black Tigers were set to travel to Stow-Munroe Falls Dec. 14, but results were not available at press time.
"People say Stow is our rival. It is not a rivalry until we starting winning against them," Slone said.
Falls will host Hudson Dec. 19 and Twinsburg Dec. 22.