With speed and full-court fury that grew from a productive week of practice and a desire to end a four-game losing streak, the Olmsted Falls Bulldogs rushed out to a big first-quarter lead on the way to beating visiting North Olmsted 88-54 Friday.
The Bulldogs (4-6, 2-4 Southwestern Conference) fell behind, 5-3, when Eagles guard Jared Strong hit a 3-pointer with 6:02 left in the first quarter. Then, the Bulldogs went on a 26-2 run to end the quarter.
Up 30-7, the Bulldogs took firm control against their SWC rivals.
“I thought that we really did a great job on the defensive end,” Bulldogs coach Chris DeLisio said. “We got our hands on the basketball a ton, and that was one of our focuses coming in … We really upped our effort level, and that kind of led our offense.”
The explosion started on the defensive end, where shaky ball-handling by the Eagles (0-10, 0-7 SWC) was met by the aggressive Bulldogs’ full-court press. The result was 12 turnovers in the quarter, including seven steals, a pair of double-dribble violations and a five-second inbound violation.
Olmsted Falls made the extra possessions count, hitting 11-of-20 shot attempts, including six 3-point baskets.
“We have some problems taking care of the basketball, so it was a combination of that and hard, full-court pressure right away (that took us out of it),” Eagles coach Jason Frolo said. “They went on a big run where we struggled to get the ball across half-court, and when we did we were taking really quick shots. Their pace of play really sped us up.”
By halftime, the Olmsted Falls lead grew to 47-21.
Sophomore swingman Charlie Ciolek played a strong two-way game for the Bulldogs, scoring 13 points, along with team-highs in rebounds (eight) and assists (seven). Seniors Drew Sagerman and Mason Olitsky scored 13 and 12 points apiece off the bench, and sophomore forward Luke Dieckman had 10.
Falls shot 53% from the field and made 11-of-25 3-pointers, including a stretch where Sagerman hit on three consecutive possessions to increase the lead to 72-39. The gap grew as high as 40 points before settling on a final score.
“The last two days of practice, I thought, were our best of the year,” DeLisio said. “I thought that really carried over to how we played tonight.”
Strong scored 22 points for the Eagles, and forward Samuel Capps added 10 with a team-high eight rebounds. North Olmsted shot 35% from the field and committed 27 turnovers.
“Overall, the guys are playing hard,” Frolo said. “The effort was there. We knew this was going to be a big learning experience for some of these guys, being thrown into matchups against some tough teams. They’re learning, and our whole goal now is to make progress, get better and play harder.”
North Olmsted returns to action at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Berea-Midpark. Olmsted Falls travels to Avon Lake for a 7 p.m. start.
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