The Bulldogs used a strong inside game by Ben Gysin and Trevor Reiser to neutralize the speed and quickness of Columbiana.
YOUNGSTOWN — There’s nothing that fuels a rivalry more than a traveling trophy.
The Columbiana and East Palestine boys basketball teams have been battling for possession of that traveling trophy since 1954.
It found its home in East Palestine for the second time this season after the Bulldogs held off a late Columbiana rally to grab a 59-56 win.
The victory keeps East Palestine (9-2, 7-0) in first place of the Inter Tri-County Tier One standings.
“When it’s East Palestine-Columbiana it doesn’t matter what the records are,” East Palestine coach Tom Bingham said. “We’ve been fighting over that trophy since 1954 and every time we play we expect a game.
“We know they’re going to come after us.”
And the Clippers did just that in the final minute before falling short.
The Bulldogs held a nine-point lead, 59-50, with about one minute to play when the Clippers forced a couple of turnovers and got three-point baskets from Tyler Denmeade and Logan Goist to cut the lead to three with 18.9 seconds left.
Columbiana (6-7, 4-4) then forced a turnover and set up for a game-tying shot in the final seconds.
Denmeade missed on the attempt and the Bulldogs came away with the rebound and the win.
“We invested everything out there for four quarters to win this game,” Columbiana coach Eric Whitmer said. “There is a lot of pain in that locker room right now but it’s good pain.
“I’m really proud of the effort.”
The Bulldogs used a strong inside game by center Ben Gysin and forward Trevor Reiser to neutralize the speed and quickness of Columbiana.
Gysin scored eight of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and grabbed 14 rebounds as Palestine scored some easy baskets once they were able to break the Clippers press.
“We had a pretty good team effort,” Gysin said. “I was definitely trying to be patient with the ball and not force anything.
“It was getting a little frustrating but in the end I just had to be patient and wait for my shots.”
The Bulldogs also owned a 41-30 advantage on the boards.
When Columbiana did whatever they could to frustrate Gysin, that left open Reiser and several other Bulldogs.
Reiser knocked down 16 points while Austin Cope and Trevor Patterson each tallied nine.
The Clippers started the game off well and held several leads in the first half before falling behind 24-21 at the break.
Goist keyed the Columbiana offense with 19 points while Denmeade scored 16.
Bingham said that the Bulldogs know what to expect from teams like Columbiana and the rest of the ITCL teams.
“That’s what it is,” said Bingham of the first place bulls-eye. “We have to like this role. I’m sure there are other teams that would like to be where we are at.
“We’ve been here before and been through this before so we just look forward to tomorrow.”