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BOYS HOOPS Niles hits 17 3s, rolls to 15th



Published: Wed, February 20, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Tyler Spencer went 7-for-8 from long range for 21 points in the first half.

By BRIAN RICHESSON

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

NILES -- Even Ron Price had a hard time believing it.

"Was it that many?" said the Niles High boys basketball coach after the Red Dragons made 17 3-pointers Tuesday night in an 89-51 non-conference victory over visiting Mineral Ridge.

In one night, the Red Dragons tried to make up for a season of shooting struggles.

"When you get in a groove like that, it starts to become contagious," Price said. "Tyler [Spencer] came out scorching to start the game, and it kind of carried over to some other players."

Spencer had arguably the best half of any player in the Valley this season.

The 6-foot-2 senior made seven of his eight 3-point shots in the first half for 21 points.

He went scoreless in the second half as his teammates took turns raining 3s.

"I made the first one and got on a little roll. I caught on fire," Spencer said.

"I haven't been shooting like that in a while."

Others: In addition to Spencer's seven long-range shots, Jason Shelton (five 3s), Bill Sullivan (two), Dan Jones (two) and Dave Soda (one) contributed to the perimeter attack.

"Is there anything bigger than a juggernaut?" Mineral Ridge coach Del Ruiter wondered in describing the Red Dragons.

Niles made 17-of-28 (61 percent) of its 3-point attempts and 32-of-58 (55 percent) overall from the field as it took command of the game after the first quarter.

"We thought we were a good-shooting team this year, but we really haven't shot it well from 3s. It's been disappointing," Price said.

Tuesday was an exception.

"I thought we might be able to play a zone and just hope they'd have a bad night," Ruiter said. "They just came out smoking and got us out of the zone early."

Led at half: Leading just 22-21 after the first quarter, the Red Dragons out-scored Mineral Ridge 24-6 in the second quarter for a 46-27 halftime lead.

"We just started stopping drives and matching up," Price said. "We gave them some easy looks in that first quarter, and we were much stingier from quarters two through four."

The Red Dragons (15-4) balanced their outside game with the inside strength of the 6-4 Soda, who had 22 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Soda also added a first-quarter dunk.

Dominated: "I think you saw the difference between a Division II school and a Div. IV school," Ruiter said.

"They're just big, strong and physical, and they play in the [Metro Athletic Conference]. Physically, they beat us up."

Shelton, who made four 3-pointers in his 15-point third quarter, finished with 18 points for Niles, which plays its final regular season game Friday at Boardman.

Mineral Ridge (15-5) was led by Malachi Hall's 17 points.

"We're the No. 1 seed [in the tournament] at Struthers, but I don't think we're going to run into anything like that," Ruiter said of the Red Dragons.

richesson@vindy.com




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