Hot shooting helps Hubbard beat Niles
HUBBARD — Hubbard dribbled up the court with no sense of urgency.
The Eagles took their time and kept passing around the perimeter as Niles implemented a 2-3 zone.
Hubbard’s patience didn’t have to be tested. Each movement had a purpose, which became apparent later in the first half of Tuesday’s 68-38 victory Tuesday night in a Division II Boardman District sectional first-round game.
The fifth-seeded Eagles (12-11) had Nick Ferrara and Cam Resatar each hit two 3-pointers, while Bashar Rasoul added four of his six points in the first quarter as Hubbard held a 16-0 lead.
Those two are part of a group of six which has been with the Eagles for quite a while.
“When they’re sharing it and making shots, we can be effective,” Hubbard coach Justin Townsend said.
Doug Foster’s first of two 3-pointers with 1:16 left on an assist from Vince Chieffo stopped the initial Eagles’ surge.
Hubbard led after one quarter, 16-3, but the Eagles were far from done.
The combination of Resatar and Shannon Slovesko made sure the Red Dragons would remain at more than an arm’s length. That would be due to the pressure defense, forcing 19 Niles turnovers.
The Hubbard duo might have thought it was baseball season as the two were playing pitch and catch with Slovesko as the beneficiary of all four of his 3-pointers and 12 points in the second quarter. Resatar had five of his six assists by halftime, leading the way for the Eagles’ 18 assists.
“I love to hear the 18 assists,” Townsend said. “That’s more important to me than any way we shot the ball.”
The Eagles shot 10 of 12 from 3 in the first half and 13 of 20 for the game.
Ferrara, who had five 3-pointers for a game-high 17 points, said he was amazed by that statistic and had a hard time explaining the success.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve made that many before. We caught fire, and we couldn’t miss.”
Hubbard forced a running clock late in the third quarter when Jayden Record went 1 of 2 from the line to extend the Hubbard lead to 59-24. The Ohio High School Athletic Association implemented a rule this postseason when a team is up by 35 points or more, there is a running clock until the difference is 29 points or less.
Twelfth-seeded Niles (4-19) tried to cut the lead to that point as Cyler Kane-Johnson, one of the area’s leading scorers, had 10 of his game-high 17 points in the second half — going 6 of 6 from the foul line in the final 16 minutes.
Chieffo’s bucket with less than a minute remaining finally got the running clock to stop.
It couldn’t stop the Red Dragons’ season coming to an end — one that has been tumultuous to say the least from the beginning. Niles lost one of its top scorers, Corbin Foy, to a season-ending injury, and had a couple other players exit for one reason or another.
They were led by Kane-Johnson all season with a supporting cast.
“The kids were in there fighting,” Niles coach Ron Price said. “That’s all you can ask. Whomever is in there to play, whomever not, not.
“The kids fought. That’s all you can ask for.”
As for Hubbard, the Eagles have summarized if they can get the kind of ball distribution they showed Tuesday, it might help Friday. Hubbard plays at fourth-seeded Lakeview, starting at 7 p.m., in a sectional bracket final. The two teams split the season series.
“It really shows we’re playing as a team, sharing the ball,” Ferrara said. “Hopefully we can do the same thing next game. Come out and get a win.”