Newton Falls rallied with a 14-1 run after intermission to overcome LaBrae for its 14th win.
By DOUG CHAPIN
NEWTON FALLS -- A 14-1 run in the first five minutes of the second half put Newton Falls in control, and the Tigers held off LaBrae the rest of the way for a 55-45 Trumbull Athletic Conference victory Tuesday.
Tack on the fact the home team scored the last two baskets of the first half, and the Tigers turned a 24-19 deficit into a 37-25 lead in about seven minutes.
"We let the kids know at halftime that if they didn't start playing harder and smarter, then any chance of a share of or an outright TAC-8 title would go down the tubes," Newton Falls coach Roy Sembach said. "For my money, LaBrae plays as hard or harder than any team in the league. They are a very dangerous team."
The Tigers (14-2, 12-1 TAC) remain a game behind undefeated Lakeview.
Sembach knows every win is a good win at this point of the season.
"It was a good, hard-fought win. We need to understand that for the teams that don't have a shot, it will be a feather in their cap if they knock off one of us," he said. "We go into Brookfield Friday and I'm certain it will be an extremely intense game."
LaBrae coach Gregg Isler said Newton Falls increased its intensity after halftime.
"They turned the intensity up a little bit and we didn't respond. Our effort has been pretty consistent all year, but in the mental part of the game we still have some things to work on. You can't give up a 14-1 run to a team that good."
Couldn't bounce back
The Vikings (7-9, 6-6) got no closer than five points after Newton Falls' run.
John Sekora and Alex Cooper split 32 points for the Tigers and Jeff Stanley added 10, including an 8-of-10 performance at the charity stripe.
The 80 percent night actually caused Stanley's percentage on the year to drop. After going 1-for-4 in the opener, the 5-10 senior had made 35 of his last 36 before Tuesday.
Stanley also played his usual active floor game, finishing with six assists.
"I think Jeff really has matured as a basketball player," Sembach said. "He was a very talented player before, but now he's using his head, too."
The Tigers held a 29-24 rebounding edge as Cooper led with seven to go with three blocked shots. Troy Balint added six rebounds and Derrick Runtas had five.
LaBrae got 11 points from Danny Hartman, seven rebounds from Todd Rowan and five steals from Chad Carr.
The Newton Falls defense held LaBrae to 29 percent (17-for-58) shooting, including just 3-for-19 (16 percent) from the 3-point arc.
The Tigers shot 46 percent (19-for-41) overall and 38 percent (5-for-13) from the arc, including a 4-for-5 night from Sekora.