Falls boys cagers shut down Kent

by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor Published:

It's pretty clear Rob Slone has some higher aspirations for his Cuyahoga Falls boys basketball team this year.

Consider the results from the past week.

First, Falls scored a 57-50 win over Solon Jan. 11 at home.

Then, the Black Tigers were playing Brush tight in a game at Brush Jan. 12 -- when the lights went out. The game was suspended with the Arcs leading 50-46 in the fourth quarter. Slone said no make up date was set as of press time.

Finally, Falls scored a 55-45 win at Kent Roosevelt Jan. 15.

The Black Tigers improved to 8-4, 2-2 in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division with the wins.

However, if you think Slone is satisfied with these results, you'd best think again.

"I'm extremely upset with how we played defense tonight," Slone said, after the Kent game. "Fundamentally, we were just OK and that's something we should be better at this late in the season. I think our kids were looking at records and thinking this was going to be easy. You can't take nights off if you want to be great."

Slone said he felt that his team didn't want it as badly as he did.

"When everything started happening at the end of last season and then Angelo [Cugini] moved into the district, I thought 'OK, this team has a chance to be very good," Slone said. "I think I believed that more than they did."

"They've got the talent to be a good Falls team, but really, who wants to be a good Falls team?" Slone added. "I want this team to be great."

Despite Slone's view, it should be noted that Roosevelt's only lead in the game was a 2-0 off a Joe Watts' layup.

After that, Falls went on an 8-2 run, forcing Dunlap to call timeout with 5:10 left in the first quarter. Falls never trailed thereafter, although Roosevelt cut it 12-9 after one quarter.

Rough Riders head coach Ben Dunlap praised Falls' defense

"They have size and experience," Dunlap said. "They play very, very good defense and took us out of our offense a lot. They scouted us, so they know our guards are our leading scorers."

Free-throw shooting was a major boon for Falls, as the Black Tigers went 17-of-22 on the night, compared to 10-of-14 for Roosevelt.

Cugini was a big part of that, as he got eight of his team-high 14 points at the line. He also had 12 rebounds on the night.

"Cugini is a very good player," Dunlap said. "He's the real deal."

Down 27-20 at halftime, Roosevelt cut it to 27-23 early in the third quarter.

However, another 8-2 run from Falls pushed the lead out to double-digits, where it hovered the rest of the night.

The Rough Riders trailed 41-30 after three quarters.

Despite a nine-point fourth quarter from forward Myles Wright, including Roosevelt's lone three-pointer of the night, Falls' lead never went below eight points in the final eight minutes.

Wright led all scorers with 25 points and 15 rebounds, but he was largely a one-man show for Kent.

Roosevelt forward Joe Watts had 10 points and seven rebounds, but no other Rough Rider had more than five points on the night.

Falls got 11 points each from guards Josh Ricker and Jay Slone.

Against the Comets, Falls scored the victory, despite being outscored 14-2 in the second quarter.

The Black Tigers took care of business in the second half, outscoring the Comets 38-24.

Once again, free-throw shooting was a boon for the Black Tigers, as Falls went 16-of-27 from the line, compared to 6-of-9 for the Comets.

Solon's physical game got away from them a bit, as Solon committed 22 fouls to Falls' eight in the contest.

Four of Falls' starting five reached double figures in the win. Forward Henry Shaw led all scorers with 16 points, including 6-of-6 from the line, while Cugini added 14 points and Matt Lawrence and Devin Speicher each had 11.

Mark Fisher was the lone Comet in double figures with 14.

Falls will return to action at home Jan. 22 vs. Revere. Tip off is set for 7:30 p.m.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

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