Westerners hold off late rally from MMCRU
REMSEN — Leading by as many as 15 in the fourth quarter, Akron-Westfield had to hold off a late challenge from MMCRU in the game’s final minutes as they escaped with a 63-58 road win on Tuesday, November 27.
“Well, we got our first victory of the year,” A-W Head Coach Jon Harris said. “It wasn’t pretty, but the main thing is we came out on top. The kids and I both know we’ve got a lot of things to work on. We didn’t take care of the ball. That was one of the biggest issues, especially late in the game.”
A MMCRU team needing to replace most of their scoring from last year didn’t seem to have many troubles finding players to do so as three players ended the game in double figures.
Trailing 12-6 after a 3-pointer from Leighton Blake, part of his 14 point night, the Royals answered right back with a triple of their own from Cade Pepper. The Royals trailed by five at the end of eight minutes, but managed to pull to within a tie at 18-18 with 5:20 left before halftime which forced a timeout from the Westerners. The teams went back and forth with perimeter shots out of the timeout with Nick Jacobs hitting a pair which were sandwiched around a Joel Johnson 3-pointer.
Those two were the scoring leaders for their respective teams with Jacobs ending the night with 18 points with four 4-pointers. He was held in check for much of the second half as he added just three points after the intermission with that coming on a 3-pointer early in the third quarter. Johnson finished with 17 points for the Royals as he ended the game with a pair of 3-pointers, both of which were responses to threes made by Jacobs.
The Westerners used an 11-0 run late in the second quarter to pull away before halftime. Robert Russell sank a free throw in the final five seconds to end the scoring drought in what would be a 32-22 halftime score. Russell ended the night with 15 points.
“The first quarter I thought we were a little stagnant or maybe a little hesitant and we kind of played their pace,” Harris said. “The second quarter we picked things up, the pace up a little bit and we were more aggressive. That suits our style a little bit better.”
MMCRU’s late comeback was sparked in part by Cade Pepper who ended the game with 12 points with all of his points coming on four 3-pointers. He cut the deficit down to 10 with just over five minutes to play and another triple followed by one from Russell with under a minute to play pulled the Royals to within five.
“We didn’t manage the clock very well,” Harris said. “We forced a couple shots that we shouldn’t have and threw the ball away and before you know it they’re scrambling and pressing us to take the lead. They had a couple kids that shot the ball really well. We didn’t do a very good job of closing out on them.”
Akron-Westfield got a bit of breathing room on a breakaway layup as the Royals’ defense, playing a full-court press, failed to see a Westerner get open in the front-court leading to their final points of the night. MMCRU tacked on another basket, but were unable to get any more open looks as their comeback bid fell just short.
MMCRU (0-1) will host Gehlen Catholic on Friday, November 30.
A-W: Points- Jacobs 18, Blake 14, Drent 10, Hartman 9, Frankl 8, Kroksh 2, Dennison 2.
MMCRU: Points- Johnson 17, Russell 15, Pepper 12, Marks 7, Dias 3, Jenness 2, Maass 2.