Editor's note: This story was updated at 9:55 a.m.
Just when Independence scored six unanswered points to cut Beachwood’s lead down to eight, the Bison closed the third quarter with a bucket and responded with a 13-5 run, taking a 16-point lead and never looking back in a 71-56 victory over the Blue Devils on Wednesday.
Then on Thursday night, the Bison went into Wickliffe and won 68-51 to improve to 3-0.
Against Independence, senior Jordan Richardson responded from a eight point first half with eight in the third quarter and finished with 24 on the night to go along with 15 rebounds — seven offensive — and two blocks.
“At halftime I wasn’t playing so good,” Richardson said. “The coaches challenged me to get every rebound. I just put that in the front of my mind and went out and got them.”
The Bison came out with an 11-5 run, but Independence close the first quarter out tying the Bison at 17 and extending their run to 16-6 early in the second quarter. But Beachwood closed the second with a 17-7 run and went into the locker room up four (34-30). Beachwood’s Julio Stevens reached double figures by halftime (10 points), he finished with 12.
“Julio has been playing very well from the get go,” Beachwood coach Jason Pecjak said. “He basically kept us in the game in the first half.
“We just have to get a lot better. These games are coming at us fast and furious now.”
Tomorrow the Bison head down to Massillon to take on Massillon Washington in the Play 4 Cancer Tournament — one of five games featuring a number of top ranked teams in Ohio. Tip off for Beachwood is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Shaker Heights Wins NOC Debut
Following a 10-day layoff since the St. John’s loss, the Red Raiders shook off the rust in front of a home crowd against Cuyahoga Falls on Tuesday — Shaker Heights’ first Northeast Ohio Conference game. The Red Raiders struggled at times, but ultimately prevailed 69-62.
The Red Raiders then improved to 2-1 with a 52-39 road win over Brunswick.
The Cuyahoga Falls victory marked the debut for Rosel Hurley, Kash Blackwell and Jimmie Pope — all sat out the first game due to a suspension. Blackwell cashed in with 20 points, including a key stretch in the second quarter where he hit three consecutive 3-pointers to bring the Red Raiders within one.
“All I said was ‘just like practice,’” Blackwell said. “My adrenaline was going, home crowd and the first home game. They were pressure shots and I’m glad I hit them.”
Hurley and Esa Ahmad each scored 13 points. Shaker Heights eventually took the lead going into the locker room and never trailed for the remainder of the game, but Cuyahoga Falls made things interesting in the fourth quarter.
The Red Raiders looked like they were going to pull away in the fourth opening up a 57-45 lead, but Cuyahoga Falls mounted a 12-4 run, capped by Pope’s fifth foul plus a technical where Cuyahoga Falls hit 3-of-4 free throws to cut Shaker Heights’ lead to four.
Cuyahoga Falls also got possession as part of the technical, but turned the ball over and never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
“I didn’t think we did a good job of rebounding the ball,” Shaker Heights coach Danny Young said. “We needed a little bit tighter defense and take away some of those stand still three’s. But the guys showed some heart and some grit. They could have given up but they didn’t and we got the win.”
Shaker Heights returns home on Tuesday against Strongsville.
Tigers Prepare For Big-League Tests
Cleveland Heights started off Lake Erie League play on the right foot with a 66-59 victory over rival Euclid, improving to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the LEL.
But it was not without struggles, the Tigers lost a total of five points in the second half — one right out of halftime and four more midway through the fourth quarter — due to a bookkeeping error. The Panthers eventually took a lead in the fourth.
“It took us for a loop and our guy had to play through that,” Cleveland Heights coach Andy Suttell said. “I wasn’t pleased we ultimately gave up the lead, but I’m glad we fought through some of that adversity and made some big plays down the stretch.”
Delaunte Davis came up with a big 3-pointer followed by a driving layup, pushing Cleveland Heights’ two-point lead up to seven. Davis finished with seven points while Marcus Bagley led the team with 14. Brandon Bates added 12.
The Tigers have a big week of LEL games ahead of them, starting with a road trip to Maple Heights. The Mustangs are led by dynamic scorer Phil Black, who scored 25 points in their season opener against St. Martin de Porres.
“We have to do a great job and not let (Black) get open looks,” Suttell said. “A Saturday afternoon game at their place is sometimes a little scary. We have to match their intensity.
Suttell is looking for improvement in two key areas going forward.
“Defensively we have to be better,” Suttell said. “We’ve been good at creating the pace of the game, but at the same time we want our defense to pressure every shot, dribble and pass. We are also turning the ball over way too much. We’re averaging around 20 turnovers a game.”
The Tigers return home Tuesday against Bedford, a team with the talent to contend for the league title. Led by a slew of frontcourt players and an experienced backcourt in Aaron Beidleman and Chris Carter, the Bearcats will challenge the Tigers early in the season.
“I think Bedford could arguably be considered one of the most talented teams in the league,” Suttell said. “Beating Bedford is going to take an all-around team effort from us.”