Super season ends

Richmond Heights too much for Bristol

Special to the Tribune | Dianna Oatridge Members of the Bristol Panthers basketball team react after their 66-34 loss in the Division IV Regional Semifinal in Canton Tuesday night.

CANTON — Richmond Heights missed an ally-oop with 5:20 left in the first quarter.

Curtis Houston drove the length of the floor and finished with a one-handed slam of his own, invigorating the Spartans crowd.

This Richmond Heights had a team full of long, lanky young players who displayed their athleticism with a convincing 66-34 victory over Bristol in Tuesday’s Division IV Canton Regional semifinal at the Canton Memorial Fieldhouse. The Spartans (20-6) face Springfield in Friday’s regional final. The Tigers beat South Central in the other semifinal, 62-50.

The Panthers have hounded most teams this season with a ferocious pressure defense, knocking most people off their game. Tuesday, it was Bristol who felt the wrath of a bigger, longer, more athletic version of itself.

“We did a great job of making other people beat us, but they’re just so deep,” said Bristol coach Craig Giesy, who last saw Bristol make it to the regionals in 2003 when he was a senior. “They have so many guys that are athletic and play the game.”

Special to the Tribune | Dianna Oatridge Bristol's Gage Elza (2) and Richmond Heights' Gbolahan Adio (3) reach for a loose ball during the Panthers' 66-34 loss in the Division IV Regional Semifinal in Canton Tuesday night.

Richmond Heights leading scorers Houston and Gbolahan Adio combined for four points in the first half. It was the cast of Jevontae Jones, Anthony Maxie and Jamarr Talbert that did the damage. Jones had a game-high 15 points, while Maxie had 12 and Talbert added 11. Richmond Heights outrebounded Bristol 30-19.

“We thought if we could rebound, take care of the ball for the most part, we’d have a chance,” Giesy said. “Their role players did a really good job of making plays against us.”

Bristol (21-5) held fast after one quarter, only trailing 12-8. Gage Elza had a quick pass to Mike Wiebe for two to cut the Richmond Heights lead to 12-8 with 46 seconds left. Those moments were far and few between.

The Panthers cut the lead to 16-13 on a Matt Church post move with 4:55 left in the second quarter. From there, the Spartans went on a 16-2 run to end the half. Bristol went scoreless until Elza’s jumper hit with 7 seconds before halftime. He had nine points, while Church led with 10.

Richmond Heights had a 17-point halftime lead but stretched things out in the third quarter. The drought continued as Bristol did not score until Matt Stephens’ shot with 4:50 left in the third. By that time, the Spartans were up 42-17.

Special to the Tribune | Dianna Oatridge Bristol's Matt Church (14) puts up a shot as Richmond Heights' Jevontae Jones (2) defends during the Panthers' 66-34 loss in the Division IV Regional Semifinal in Canton Tuesday night.

“In the second half we just got wore down,” Giesy said.

Bristol also made mistakes, 24 turnovers to 16 for Richmond Heights.

“They sped us up and made us play out of control at times,” Elza said.

Richmond Heights led 55-21 after three quarters as the Spartans were looking toward a regional final and a possible spot in the Division IV state semifinal. Heights was tested all season against top-flight talent like Toledo Whitmer, Lorain, Gahanna Lincoln and Shaker Heights. The Spartans faced more upper-division teams than most Division IV teams see in a season.

There were 17 foul shots taken as it was game dictated by an-up-and down tempo, some hand checks and not many stoppages of play. It didn’t favor Bristol.

Special to the Tribune | Dianna Oatridge Bristol's Matt Stephens (5) drives the baseline around Richmond Heights' Gbolahan Adio (3) during the Panthers' 66-34 loss in the Division IV Regional Semifinal in Canton Tuesday night.

“In the end we were getting more flustered at what they got and what we were getting called toward each other,” Bristol guard Damion Durst said.

COMMENTS