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Brookfield slips past Devils in nailbiter

BROOKFIELD — Lordstown and Brookfield took their Division IV sectional first-round game down to the wire on Tuesday. The Warriors escaped victorious, 46-43, in a back-and-forth nailbiter that came down to the very end.

“I guess it’s like the playoffs,” Brookfield coach Shawn Hammond said. “Just win and move on. We wanted to try to press Lordstown. We didn’t get anything out of it early. We knew it was going to be one of ‘them’ games.”

After Aiden Force swished his third 3-pointer to put Lordstown ahead, Haden Gibson got to the hoop again and TeAndre Craig added a free throw. Isaiah Jones swatted away the Devils’ last chance to tie it in the closing seconds.

“Give credit to Brookfield for the way they play defense, and the way they can get to the bucket,” Lordstown coach Brian Force said. “I was very proud of our physical, defensive effort. I thought our effort on that side of the ball was good enough to win.”

Aiden Force (team-high 17 points) had a put-back, and teammate Seth Stevens drilled a 3-pointer just before the first quarter came to an end, as Lordstown took a 10-8 lead into the second.

Donovan Pawlowski (13 points) nailed one from behind the arc with a hand in his face to start the second quarter for Brookfield. Jones had back-to-back lay-ups and the Warriors extended the lead. Lordstown ran a nice press-breaker as both teams played intense defense.

Kaiden Anthony scored down low for the Devils, but Pawlowski closed out the

half with a 3 from the corner. Brookfield led, 20-19, at halftime.

Lordstown senior Vincent Spano scored inside to start the third. Spano finished again after Stevens found him with an assist. Then, Stevens completed an amazing and-1 as he flung the ball toward the hoop while being fouled.

The Devils played great defense to keep Brookfield off the board as the third quarter came to a close. Lordstown held a 32-27 advantage heading to the fourth.

“The best thing Lordstown does is play help-side defense,” Hammond said. “They switched on some things. They have a little more size than we do. They did a nice job of holding us in check on offense.”

Gibson (team-high 17 points) took the ball to the hoop to start the fourth quarter. TeAndre Craig had a steal and a lay-up. Gibson buried a 3-pointer and the Warriors went ahead.

A technical foul was called on Brookfield and Lordstown got four shots from the

free-throw line and the ball. In the crucial moment, Lordstown went 1-for-4 from the line and turned the ball over. The score was tied, 36-36.

“We didn’t execute there,” Lordstown coach Brian Force said. “With four free throws and the ball, down by one, we’re only able to tie it. That’s a key moment. We would have liked to get that lead and play defense. We had a couple of bad turnovers once we did get the lead.

When you’re in a tight game like that, kids get a little tight and that can happen.”

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