second half fuels Rockets
By Jim Horvath
Published Dec. 10, 2008
guard Cody Sanker drives to the hoop as North Olmsted’s Eric
Smith defends during last Friday night’s season opener. (West
Life photo by Larry Bennet)
the first two quarters of play, Bay and North Olmsted played virtually
even up in last Friday night’s season opener.
But veteran Eagles coach Tim Schmotzer saw a trend
developing that concerned him.
That concern came to fruition in the second half as
the visiting Rockets kept things close, then exploded for a 24-point
fourth quarter for a 61-53 win.
“Overall, we never really made stops when we needed
to,” said Schmotzer. “To take control of the game like this, we
needed to play tougher defensively.”
As early as the second quarter, the veteran Eagles
coach could be heard telling his team it wasn’t “getting it done”
on the defensive end of the court. North Olmsted had a 22-17 lead
on a three-pointer by junior guard Kevin Tominc, but Bay rallied
to take a 29-27 halftime lead.
“You could tell it was opening night because of the
mistakes both teams were making. But Bay played well overall tonight.
They played with great effort and poise for as young as they are,”
Still, Schmotzer’s Eagles managed to stay close and
even take a 38-37 lead at the end of three quarters. A bucket inside
from senior guard Matt Roman, two free throws by Roman and a free
throw from senior guard Cameron Burson closed out the quarter for
the home team.
North Olmsted added to that lead to start the fourth
on a pair of Tominc free throws, making it 40-37. But a driving
jumper by Rocket junior guard Cody Sanker sparked a Bay run that
dramatically changed the tone of the game.
The Eagles answered with a Mahmoud Ahmad free throw,
but then the Rockets ran off the next nine points.
Sophomore John Urwin got things started with a jumper,
then Sanker followed up with another drive through the North Olmsted
defense. Another Urwin jumper and a Sanker drive, foul and free
throw made it 48-41, Rockets.
Roman stopped the bleeding for the Eagles on a nice
cut to the basket. But Sanker hit both ends of a one-and-one at
the 3:55 mark, then Urwin scored inside for a 52-43 advantage.
North Olmsted turned up the pressure with a full-court
press, but the Rockets continued to score. At one point, a pass
to a wide-open Urwin broke the press and resulted in a bucket and
foul. Urwin converted the three-point play, and Bay had a 57-47
lead with 1:12 left in the game.
An offensive rebound by Adam Gorski and two more free
throws by Sanker with :13.5 left closed it out for the Rockets.
“I thought our penetration on offense was big for
us tonight,” said Bay head coach Jason Frolo. “We hit some threes
early, but after that we did a nice job of taking the ball to the
hoop. That put a lot of pressure on their defense.
“We also did a decent job on the offensive boards,”
said Frolo. “If we didn’t get the rebound outright, we were at least
able to tip the ball out to one of our guys to keep the possession
The Rockets, with just two seniors on their squad
in Gorski and forward Brian Harrell, got big performances from their
Urwin came off the bench and led the team in scoring
with 22 points. He helped out on the boards as well with six rebounds.
Sanker, who was fearless all night driving to the hoop and tracking
down loose balls near the sidelines, was close behind with 20 points.
“Neither one of them is shy about shooting the basketball,”
said Frolo with a smile. “Cody used his body well on the dribble
penetration. And we definitely want the ball in his hands at the
end of the game because he’s one of our best free throw shoot
“I thought we played well. We really didn’t know what to
expect tonight because we played well in some of our scrimmages
and not so well in others. We just told our guys not to be happy
with how they played in the first half, that we needed to build
on that in the second half,” he said.
Sophomore guard Connor Outcalt contributed with eight
points, while Harrell had six rebounds. Gorski, coming off a season-ending
knee injury last year, had four points and eight rebounds.
North Olmsted got 12 points from junior forward George
Bloomfield and 10 more from Roman, who sat much of the first half
with two quick fouls. Tominc and Douglas Otter each had seven points.
Schmotzer was impressed with how the young Rockets
“If we could have guys playing like that, diving for
loose balls and playing hard-nosed basketball, maybe things would
have gone better for us tonight,” said Schmotzer. “Coach Frolo should
be very proud of his team’s effort.
“We need to get better. We gave up penetration, too
many second shots and a number of uncontested threes. Especially
in that second quarter: we weren’t stopping them at all,” he said.
Here’s how opening night went throughout the rest
of the Westshore area:
Fairview 38, Lutheran West 35
Senior Marty Patton settled this closely-contested
game with a three-pointer at the buzzer at Fairview High.
Fellow senior Adam Dickey led the Warriors with 11
points, while Patton chipped in with 10 in this game of streaks.
Fairview took a 10-5 first quarter lead, but West answered with
a 14-4 second quarter to take a 19-14 halftime lead.
The Warriors, playing their first game under new head
coach Pete Maienknecht, regrouped at the half and outscored West,
10-4, in the third quarter to help set up the exciting fourth-quarter
Stephon Seton and Dan Bailey led the Longhorns with
eight points each. Lutheran West also debuted its new head coach,
Ray Durban, who took over for longtime leader Phil Argento.
Brecksville 63, Rocky River 54
The Pirates took a 19-13 first-quarter lead and led,
32-29, at the half. But a 17-7 fourth-quarter performance by the
visiting Bees made the difference.
Ryan Arnold led River with 12 points, while Eric Schade
was right behind with 11 points.
Strongsville 82, Olmsted Falls 79
The Bulldogs, despite 35 points from senior forward
Scott Kimmey, dropped their home opener as the Mustangs rallied
with a 27-16 fourth quarter.
Tony Lanza had 22 points for Falls, which led 40-29
at halftime and 63-55 after three quarters of play. The Bulldogs
used a strong three-point attack to build their lead as Lanza nailed
six, Kimmey four and Colin Barth two.