DIVISION III Champion gets tough win

After back-and-forth battle, the Golden Flashes capture playoff-opening victory.
HUBBARD -- The opening game of the high school boys basketball Division III tournament at Hubbard High School Monday was a physical, seesaw battle between Champion and Mineral Ridge.
The Golden Flashes led the first 11 minutes of the game, the Rams the next 12.
During the final nine minutes, the score was tied three times and the lead changed hands eight times, but it was the Flashes that held that lead at the end to capture a 69-61 victory.
"I thought we were the quicker team, but we made some mental mistakes," Mineral Ridge coach Del Ruiter said. "I tell the kids three things before they go out -- play hard, play smart and have fun. Well, we didn't play smart. We didn't take care of the basketball."
In the second game, Brookfield managed to hold on to a 32-28 lead at the end of the third quarter to capture a 48-46 victory over Garfield.
Champion 69, Mineral Ridge 61
Champion (6-14) took an 18-14 lead after the first period of play, but saw it slip away when Ridge junior Nick Diana came off the bench, drove the lane and scored with 4:50 left in the half to break a 23-23 tie.
Diana came right back to hit back-to-back buckets -- a 3-pointer from the right wing and a 10-foot jumper from the corner -- that gave the Rams a 30-25 lead with 2:45 to play before the break. They led 34-31 at the half.
An offensive rebound and putback by junior John Hack gave Ridge (11-10) its biggest lead of the game, 45-39, at the 3:56 mark of the third. But three turnovers, including back-to-back offensive fouls on junior Vance Kiersey, and two missed field goal attempts cost the Rams their momentum and the lead.
Champion utilized a 1-2-2 zone that Ruiter said his team was not expecting, in spite of seeing it when the two teams squared off earlier this year, a game that the Flashes won 70-62 in overtime.
"I scouted them the last three games and every time, they played a man defense," Ruiter said. "I told the kids he [Champion coach Dan Bubon] was going to play us man-to-man.
"He played a zone the first time we played them and it was close. But we were ready for a man defense and it didn't come," Ruiter said. "We're not a real good shooting team from the outside and because of that, everyone that knows us knows that we have to penetrate and pound it inside."
Kiersey led all scorers with 21 points and 11 rebounds and Diana chipped in 13 points and six boards.
Foul trouble
Early in the game, the Rams attacked the Flashes' defense, scoring eight baskets inside the paint in the first half, drawing fouls and going to the line.
Champion picked up its 10th foul less than three minutes into the second quarter, putting the Rams into the double bonus, and the Rams converted 10-of-15 free throws before halftime. Ridge only went to the line three times in the second half.
"We didn't think they [Rams] were a real good shooting team, but we were really worried about their penetration," Bubon said. "And they did hurt us early.
"They attacked us right through our zone. We went to man at the end of the half and the first possession of the second half, but they got a layup and we went right back to the zone," Bubon said.
"We played man all year, but we really don't match up against them," Bubon said. "They're quicker than us at almost every position. Our zone hurt them more later in the game."
The Flashes, who will take on Newton Falls Wednesday at 6 p.m., placed three players in double figures. Senior Jake Gross netted 19, sophomore Tyler Kish hit for 15 and junior Mark Jackson added 14.
Brookfield 48, Garfield 46
Garfield sophomore Robert Carlisle hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it was not enough as the G-Men ended their season 7-14. Carlisle and teammate Greg Collins each finished with 17 points.
Brookfield (11-10) will face Campbell Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. Senior Taylor McMullin led a trio of Warriors in double figures with 14 points. Seniors Sam King and Keith Flynn netted 11 and 10, respectively.
Lisbon 53, Crestview 36
SALEM -- In another Div. III game at Salem High, Marcus Judy scored 18 points and Corey Smith 16 to lead the Blue Devils (13-8) past their Tri-County League rivals.
Travis Gustafson and Andy Walton led the Rebels (5-16) with 11 and nine points, respectively.

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