BOARDMAN - Any successful basketball coach is likely to preach the importance of a good offseason weight-training program.
Hubbard may think about implementing a height program. Or perhaps the Eagles should invest in The Body Tractor, a Chinese gadget that claims to make you taller.
Height certainly matters in hoops.
Crestwood proved that in a Division II sectional semifinal Monday night. The much taller Red Devils owned a 36-21 advantage in the rebounding battle and pulled away from Hubbard, 54-36. Crestwood (8-15) will meet top-seeded Poland on Wednesday.
"All year long we've had size advantage," said Devils' coach Al Mielcarek. "But it doesn't mean a lot if you don't use it."
Crestwood did last night. With the Eagles having no player over 6-foot-1, the Devils' inside trio of Trevor Sweet (6-7), Jimmy Quesenberry (6-5) and Jacob Graves (6-2) matched the rebounding total of the entire Hubbard team.
When hopes for rebounds are dismal, one must either shoot well or hope the other team doesn't. Neither happened for the Eagles. Crestwood shot 51 percent from the floor, while Hubbard made just 32 percent of its shots.
"We were (6 of 22) from the field in the first half and we missed five layups," said Eagles coach Rick Fox. "We're down five points at the half. If we make the layups we're up five points. And most of those were wide-open layups."
Hubbard trailed 8-4 after a quarter and 19-14 at intermission. After a Sweet layup to start the third quarter, the Eagles got consecutive 3-pointers from Jordan Thomson and Derek Kopanic to get within 21-20. Mielcarek called time out and the Devils closed out the frame with an 11-2 run (seven points coming from guard Jacob Klack) to lead 32-22 heading to the final 8 minutes.
The Crestwood coach said there was no ingenious speech during the break.
"It was more so about the obvious," Mielcarek said. "It was time for us to start playing harder. We let a team like Hubbard hang around and, because they play hard, they can stay in it. Our seniors kicked it into another gear."
Hubbard had little chance in the final quarter as the Devils made 9 of 11 shots.
Graves led the winners with 12 points while Graves and Klack added 11 apiece. Sweet led all players with nine boards and three blocked shots. Thomson led Hubbard with nine points. Aaron Loveless led the Eagles with eight rebounds and three assists.
Mielcarek said his team will have to play much better to compete against Poland.
"They've been the class of this district for a long time, the team you strive to beat every year," he said. "It will be our state championship."