BOYS DIVISION III Falls, Champion advance to final
The Tigers set a school record Tuesday with their 20th victory.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HUBBARD -- It will be an all-Trumbull Athletic Conference final in the Division III district tournament at Hubbard High School.
Top-seeded Newton Falls and fourth-seeded Champion will meet in the championship game Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Tigers (20-2) advanced to the title game by turning back LaBrae 52-45, while the Golden Flashes (14-9) defeated second-seeded Warren JFK 49-35 to earn the other spot.
The 20 wins are a school record for Newton Falls, which set a school mark for victories in the regular season with 18.
The Tigers did not have an easy time with the Vikings (11-12).
LaBrae never trailed by more than four points in the first half, and trailed by just one at halftime 24-23.
The Vikings held their last lead, 33-31, with 2:40 remaining in the third period on a 3-point shot by Brandon Hillman. But the Tigers scored the final eight points of the quarter, six of them on two big 3-point shots by Derrick Runtas and John Sekora to take their biggest lead of the game, 39-33.
One last run
The Vikings made one last run to open the final period, scoring the first six points and deadlocking the game at 39-39 on a rebound layup by Todd Rowan with four minutes remaining.
LaBrae still trailed by just two points, 44-42, with 1:15 remaining when Jeff Stanley was fouled. He missed the shot but the ball bounded into the hands of Alex Cooper who laid it back up for the bucket and a four point lead.
Cooper added two free throws after that and Runtas and Sekora also hit a pair as the Tigers pulled away for the win.
"LaBrae plays as hard as any team we played all year and I expected it to be that type of ball game," said Newton Falls head coach Roy Sembach.
"I don't think either team did anything different from the first two times we played this year," Sembach added. "I thought the defense was tremendous on both sides."
Stanley led the Tigers with 18 points, while Sekora added 11. Sophomore Todd Rowan led the Vikings with 14 points and Brandon Hillmin chipped in with 13.
"Newton Falls is such a great defensive team and they did a great job on us tonight," said LaBrae coach Gregg Isler.
"I'm real proud of these kids. They were 3-7 at one point in this season and have really played well through the end."
Flashes survive third quarter
Champion head coach Jeff Rasile knew his team had a good chance to beat JFK after the third period.
The Flashes came out leading by seven points, 27-20, and missed their first 11 shots of the quarter, but when the period ended they were still ahead by seven points 32-25.
"I knew then we had a chance," He said. "We played just a horrible quarter and never lost a point of our lead."
Actually JFK scored the first five points of the period and cut the lead to two points 27-25, but missed their final seven shots of the period as the Tigers finally scored with 2:07 remaining and added the last five points.
The Eagles (15-7) got to within five points, 34-29, early in the final period, but Josh Ozanich hit a big 3-point shot and Mark Kish followed with another basket to give Champion a 10-point lead.
Kish had another layup before the Flashes scored their final seven points from the free throw line, hitting 7-of-10 over the final two minutes to record the win.
Mike Wortman led the Flashes with 13 points, while Ozanich added 10. Keith Black led all scorers for JFK with 17 points, including four 3-point goals.
"We kept them in the 40 point range which was our goal, but I never expected us to only score 35 points," said losing coach John Condoleon. "We could have picked a better night to come out flat."