By Brandon Judeh
Add another chapter to the LaBrae-Newton Falls rivalry as the two squared off in front of a packed house at Newton Falls High School on Friday night.
This round, once again, went to the unbeaten Vikings as they earned a hard-fought 60-47 victory over the pesky Tigers.
“It was tough coming in here, it was so loud and packed, it was tough to settle our nerves down at first, but we overcame it,” said Marcell Richardson, who led LaBrae (6-0, 4-0 All-American Conference-National Division) with 21 points and eight rebounds.
Richardson, who scored most of his points in the paint, says that he is constantly improving his post moves in practice.
“I work on my post moves a lot in practice, I have been working on that and shooting free throws all year long,” he said.
The first quarter was sloppy for both teams as turnovers dictated the game early.
LaBrae was able to rebound from their sluggish start, but Newton Falls (2-4, 2-1 AAC) could not.
“Marcell (Richardson) surprised us tonight, he had a great night,” said Tigers coach Roy Sembach. “We took their 3-point shooters out of the game, did a very good job against (Peyton) Aldridge and we did a pretty good job of stopping Carl Brown from penetrating. In the end, it was turnovers that killed us.”
The Vikings held the Tigers to five second-quarter points and took an 11-point lead into the locker room.
After the Vikings grabbed a commanding 15-point lead early in the third quarter, Newton Falls used 3-pointers to fight back.
The Tigers proceeded to hit four of their eight 3-pointers in the third. Chris Greathouse led Newton Falls with four of them.
“They came out in the third quarter and went on a 10-0 run, cutting our lead to five,” LaBrae coach Chad Kiser said. “We just completely lost our concentration. We gave up a lot of open shots.”
Kiser added that he had beenpleased with how well his defense did in stopping Newton Falls’ penetration early and forcing them to take long, contested shots.
With LaBrae clinging to a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter, Richardson came up big.
After Dale Kernen drained a 3-pointer for the Tigers, Richardson answered back with a basket and foul shot to swing momentim back to the Vikings.
Richardson scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth, to seal the deal for LaBrae.
“We were moving the ball around well tonight, our guards were doing a great job of passing and getting the ball into the low post,” he said.
LaBrae shot 49 percent from the field as Aldridge recorded another double-double, with 14 points and 11 boards.
Senior Carl Brown chipped in with eight points.
Greathouse and Kernen each scored 12 points for Newton Falls. Kernen added nine boards and five assists. Ozzie Hawkins added eight points for the Tigers.