By Brandon Judeh
Western Reserve’s Tim Cooper was the defensive “quarterback” for the Blue Devils football team over the past few seasons.
He has now carried that mentality over to the basketball court as he helped lead the Blue Devils to a 56-46 victory over Columbiana on Friday night.
“Leadership is something you just don’t lose when it comes to different sports, you pick that up throughout the whole process,” Cooper said.
Though Cooper scored just two points, his presence was felt throughout the game on both sides of the court by playing solid defense and contributing 10 assists and five rebounds.
“It felt good to get the win,” Cooper said. “Our guys were knocking down shots all night. I like to be an unselfish team player and if you can play as a team then you’re going to win some ball games.”
Fellow senior Dalton Korda had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils (2-1).
“We outrebounded them tonight and that was a big difference, but this win came mainly from a great team effort,” Korda said.
Western Reserve nearly doubled up winless Columbiana (0-3) on the boards, 34-18.
The Blue Devils trailed by a point after one quarter, but used a 19-7 run in the second quarter to take control.
“The second quarter hurt,” Clippers coach Jason Baker said. “We couldn’t make shots and we didn’t do a good job of getting the ball into the post.
“Other than the second quarter it was an even game. We have been in every game we have played this season, we just need to finish them out.”
The Clippers kept fighting their way back in the second half, as they kept the game close, thanks in large part to Bryce Franken’s five 3-pointers.
Costly turnovers late in the fourth quarter cost the Clippers, allowing Western Reserve was able to pull away in the final minutes.
“We need to stop the silly turnovers in late game situations, we were down seven or eight points three or four different times, but careless turnovers cost us, but I know we are going to continue to improve and get better,” Baker said.
This was a bounce-back win for the Blue Devils, after losing a 48-47 heartbreaker against Lake Center Christian. Cooper feels his team is on the right track.
“Right now we are doing good. We are OK, but we need to keep getting better because there are a lot of tough teams in the Inter-Tri County League, like McDonald and Wellsville.” Cooper said.
Payton Snyder with 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and sophomore Nolan Snyder (12 points) aided Western Reserve’s cause.
Columbiana’s Jake DeJong scored 12 points and Devin Rice grabbed a team-high six boards.