Red Devils hold off charging Leopards

Red Devils hold off charging Leopards

Rushton puts up 30 for Liberty; Campbell’s Kouros posts 24

By Tom Williams


After trailing by 13 points in the third quarter, the Liberty High School basketball team had Campbell’s lead down to one with Ezell Brown at the foul line with seven seconds remaining.

Brown’s attempt bounced off the rim and back to him. His shot missed but the ball fell to teammate David Sewell.

His try also bounced away, allowing the Red Devils to hang on for 70-69 victory Friday night.

“It was intense,” said Liberty’s Dra Rushton, who scored a game-high 30 points. “The ball could have bounced a little better our way.”

Nikolas Kouros, who came to the Mahoning Valley from Greece last summer, sparked the Red Devils (9-8, 4-4 All-American Conference Blue Tier) with 24 points.

“That game was pretty fun, the crowd went crazy on every play,” Kouros said. “It was one of the best games I’ve ever played.”

Because their game at Liberty was postponed, this was the first time Liberty’s Chris Kohl coached against Kouros. He was impressed.

“He’s nice,” Kohl said. “We told Campbell coach [Nick Canterino] that when he goes over to Greece next year to bring us one back. He’s a nice player, a real nice addition for them.

“He’s the difference for them, he understands the game — wish we had him.”

Kohl said his toughest job was consoling Brown, who scored 16 points and made five steals and four rebounds.

“He was a little down on himself,” Kohl said, adding that he deserves “a little boost of confidence. It just didn’t go.”

Although the Leopards (3-11, 2-7) have just three wins, Canterino wasn’t surprised the game went down to the wire.

“We always have tough games with them,” the Red Devils’ second-year head coach said. “It doesn’t matter what either of our records are. Our kids know each other so well and it just brings out the good in both teams.”

Rushton, who also led the Leopards with seven rebounds, sizzled at the start, making six baskets for 14 points in the first quarter.

“You just try to limit what he can do,” Canterino said. “Once he gets a head of steam, he’s tough to stop.”

The Red Devils took charge in the second quarter, outscoring the Leopards 28-19 for a 49-41 halftime edge. Eric Van Cobb scored seven points in that quarter and Kouros six.

Campbell’s biggest lead was 57-44 midway though the third quarter. Then the Leopards surged.

Asked what made the difference, Rushton said, “Defense. Coach [Charles Russell] does a good job getting us fired up, to go out and play with intensity as a team. Credit Coach Russ.”

Devontay Johnson and Darion Jones each scored 10 points for the Red Devils.

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