Waterloo’s size too much for LaBrae

Staff photo / Brad Emerine LaBrae's Connor Meyer dribbles around a pick set by teammate Justin Rutherford, left, on Waterloo's Caleb Francis during their Division III regional semifinal Wednesday night at Canton Fieldhouse. The Vikings lost 72-47.

CANTON — Things went south in a hurry for the LaBrae High School boys basketball team in its Division III regional semifinal against Waterloo in the Canton Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.

The result in front of a smallish crowd witnessing the battle between the Vikings was a 72-47 loss for LaBrae, as it ended with a 19-7 record.

It was the first local game played under the new OHSAA fan restrictions in an order to combat the potential spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.

After Justin Rutherford’s 3-pointer 15 seconds into the second half pulled the local Vikings within 32-26, Waterloo began a 17-6 push.

The game changed after Max Adelman and Kyle Shockley made consecutive buckets. Rutherford picked up his third personal foul and went to the bench at the 6:23 mark, and Joe Ward’s 3-pointer made it 39-26.

Staff photo / Brad Emerine LaBrae's Aidan Stephens, left, pressures Waterloo ballhandler Joe Ward during their Division III regional semifinal Wednesday night at Canton Fieldhouse.

“We had to come out of our zone when the kid we weren’t guarding strong (Ward) knocked down his 3-pointer,” LaBrae coach Chad Kiser said. “(Waterloo) has so much size. They went 6-7 (Vaughn Dorsey) and 6-6 (Adelman) in the post, and their smallest starter was 6-2. Heck, our tallest starter (Rutherford) goes 6-2.

“It was a tough matchup for us, and then (Waterloo) has some strong perimeter shooters and they share the ball well. When we went man-to-man, it was no contest then. But we had to try it.”

Waterloo led 49-34 entering the fourth quarter and continued to pour it on, breaking LaBrae’s press and also getting several back-door layups against halfcourt pressure.

“In the first half, for being undersized, we rebounded the ball pretty well and we shot the ball from distance well,” Kiser said. “But we missed a lot of shots on drives in the second half, and we didn’t get as many open looks on the perimeter.”

The local Vikings were 6-for-12 from the land of 3s in the first 16 minutes and finished 7-for-23.

Meanwhile, Dorsey had his way to the tune of 24 points, and 6-3 guard Kyle Shockley was driving through LaBrae’s extended defensive pressure as he finished with 20 points. Caleb Francis, another 6-3 guard, added 14 points and Adelman finished with eight.

Waterloo, which improved to 24-2 and will play Warrensville Heights in a regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday at Canton Fieldhouse, built its largest lead at 67-38 with about 2:30 left.

Landen Kiser’s 17 points led LaBrae. Devin Carter scored all 11 of his points in the first half, including a trio of 3-pointers. Connor Meyer added eight points.

“We have nothing to hang our heads about,” coach Kiser said. “Our kids gave a great effort tonight. They got fatigued and didn’t play as well as we have played lately, but their hearts were in it, and they were diving after loose balls, even in the fourth quarter.”

The local Vikings had one senior on the roster in Rutherford.

“We had a great run, and I think it may have opened the kids’ eyes as to how much potential they have,” coach Kiser said. “Nobody thought we’d have this type of season, but now that will change going into next season. The expectations will be there, so these guys will need to work hard and put in the work during the offseason.”