MINERAL RIDGE - Having faced Wellsville multiple times during summer league basketball, Mineral Ridge coach Chris Kohl had a pretty good inkling of what to put on the scouting report: Protect the 3-point line.
Despite drilling into his players about the Tigers' tendencies, the Rams couldn't stop the aerial barrage from beyond the arc, as Wellsville drained 11 3-pointers in a 79-55 rout at Mineral Ridge High School. The Tigers (3-0, 2-0 Inter Tri-County League, Division II) never trailed and shot 50.8 percent from the field.
"We knew that if we didn't come out and contest all their shots, it could be over real quick," Kohl said. "I thought we had our guys real prepared for what they could bring to the table, but obviously, we didn't prepare them well enough. I'll take the blame for that."
No Wellsville player epitomized the team's proclivity for the 3 more than Seth Bradford, and he proved why he had free reign to shoot.
The senior center terrorized Mineral Ridge (3-1, 1-1 ITCL, Division II) in the first quarter, making six 3s in the first 8 minutes. Bradford seemed robotic, missing just one attempt from distance, and during one stretch from the 2:25 and 0:57 marks, he hit 3s on three consecutive possessions to keep Mineral Ridge at a distance.
Bradford finished with a game-high 25 points on 7-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.
"It was pretty fun," Bradford said. "I was just feeling it early, so I just kept on shooting and we came out with a big victory."
It's not as though the Rams let Bradford and the Tigers do whatever they wanted on offense, driving and dishing out to the shooters uncontested. On Bradford's last 3-pointer in the first quarter with 57 seconds remaining, Mineral Ridge's Zac Hagy, who finished with 12 points, had a hand in Bradford's face a couple of feet behind the line, and Bradford still swished it.
"They seemed to find the open shooter and bang, 3 - bang, 3," Kohl said. "The kid that hit the 3s, I thought we did a nice job on him. It wasn't like he shot uncontested shots."
To go along with his stellar night shooting, Bradford also fulfilled his role inside, grabbing 10 rebounds for a double-double.
"That's his job - he's a beast," Wellsvilel coach David Thompson said. "I'd take him over any 6-6 guy because we can come out and (shoot 3s). He can go inside and bang the boards. He's been doing that for years."
The Rams managed to keep it close at halftime, going into the break down 11, but they never came closer, with Wellsville taking a 30-point lead late in the game.
The loss ends Mineral Ridge's unbeaten start to the season, and it puts a dent in the team's ITCL, Division II title hopes, Kohl said. He also said the Rams will learn a lot about themselves depending on how they recover from the loss.
"It's really going to show us what kind of basketball team we really are," Kohl said. "Like I told these guys, we have Southington, we have Leetonia and we have Berlin Center Western Reserve. So, we've got to go out and win the next three games.
"If we go out and get waxed by Southington (today), then I'll say, 'Oh, we have some problems.' But I don't expect it from these guys. I think they'll come ready to play."