By BOB ROTH
YOUNGSTOWN -- Bernie Tarr, now in his second season coaching Bedford Chanel, returned Saturday to Rayen's Lindsey Fieldhouse, where his Firebirds pinned a 68-54 loss on the Tigers.
Chanel (8-1) came off the opening tip with a short jumper and a 3-pointer from Rob Jordan for a 5-0 lead, and it maintained that advantage the rest of the way.
Jeremy McClain, a 6-foot-3 senior forward, paced the Firebirds with a game-high 24 points, 13 of which came in the second half. He also grabbed nine of his team's 23 rebounds and was the difference when the Tigers came on early in the second half.
"We knew Rayen was better than their record, so we had to come out playing Chanel basketball, playing hard and playing together," McClain said.
Local link: Tarr, who was an assistant coach at Rayen for two seasons nearly a decade ago, said, "We had a good team effort, with a lot of people contributing both offensively and defensively as McClain, who is capable of having this kind of game every night, led the way.
"This was a matchup of two great traditional programs, and make no mistake about it, Rayen played with great pride and heart tonight."
Though Jordan, a senior, did the early scoring, a sophomore guard, Austin Weatherington, poured in 15 points and another senior guard, Kyle Moriarity, hit three 3-pointers for 13 points.
The Tigers (2-6) refused to let the game get away from them. After trailing 36-28 at the half, their press began to create Chanel turnovers to cut the Firebird lead to four points twice in the third quarter.
Five points from McClain and a big put-back by the guard Moriarity made the score 46-35 at the 3:40 mark of the third period.
Rayen's 5-7 junior guard, Jamal Higgs, had 13 points and William Jones, a 6-3 senior, scored 12 more to lead Rayen, which out-rebounded Chanel 26-23, with Anthony Jones pulling down eight and C.J. Ladson seven.
"I was pleased with our effort because we had better intensity and focus than we have had in recent games," Rayen coach Phillip House said. "We made some mistakes that were costly against a very good Chanel team, but I feel with this game we have turned the corner on this season."