Mogadore boys hold off Campbell
in Red Devils’
loss to ’Cats
By Greg Gulas
Heading into Tuesday night’s Division III district semifinal with Mogadore, Campbell was the lowest remaining seed in the Salem tournament.
It turned out the sixth-seeded Red Devils were one of the toughest teams to eliminate.
Lukas Swartz scored 25 points, Kyle Coffman added 13 and Mogadore survived the nip-and-tuck battle, wresting the lead for good midway through the second period as they defeated the Red Devils 51-48 at John A. Cabas Gymnasium.
The second-seeded Wildcats will now meet fourth-seed Canton Central Catholic for the district championship on Friday at 7 p.m.
Campbell went 3-20 last year during head coach Nick Canterino’s first season, but the Red Devils improved to 12-13 this season.
“We had our chances and I am just so proud of the fight that we put up tonight, especially against an excellent Mogadore team,” Canterino said. “I cannot say enough about this group. They’re talented, never quit and tonight they proved that they can play with anyone. It’s just sad that someone had to lose.”
The opening period saw 12 lead changes alone with Erik Van Cobb scoring eight of his team-high 14 points to help the Red Devils to a 16-15 lead.
The Achilles’ heel for Campbell, however, was free-throw shooting as they converted just eight of 18 foul shots. They were just 3 of 10 in the first half.
“We worked really hard at both ends of the floor the entire game,” Van Cobb said. “We improved over the course of the year and everyone played together as a team. I just wish we could have some of those free-throw attempts back and take them over.”
A 3-pointer by Devontay Johnson at 6:14 of the second period gave the Red Devils their final lead of the game, 21-20 and with the game knotted at 22 just 15 seconds later, a Swartz triple and bucket by Coffman staked Mogadore (19-5) to a 27-24 halftime lead.
“I’ve been around long enough to know about the history and tradition of Campbell Memorial basketball,” Wildcats head coach Russ Swartz said. “I was worried about their athletic ability and felt like we needed to stop their dribble penetration, knowing we would get our shots if we didn’t turn the ball over.”
A Raesean Hicks bucket at 4:56 of the third period cut the Mogadore lead to 30-29, but the Wildcats closed the third with a 7-2 for a 37-31 lead.
“The end of the third period was a key stretch and the big turnaround for us,” Swartz said. “They cut the lead to a point on two separate occasions and had the ball with a chance to take the lead. We were able stop them, never gave up the lead and in the process also created some distance.”
Hicks scored four of his 10 points in the period for the Red Devils.
“We made our greatest improvement as a team about the middle of the season,” Hicks said. “Coach Canterino has been a very special coach to all of us. Our goal was to win district and while we fell short of achieving that goal, we’ll be back next year.”
The Wildcats also struggled at the foul line, converting just 13 of 21 attempts. They were 10 of 14 in the final period when it counted most. Lukas Swartz canned all six of his attempts in the quarter.
The closest Campbell could get was 47-45 after the first of two consecutive 3-pointers by Johnson.
“We would have been in a lot of trouble if we didn’t make our free-throws at the end of the game,” Russ Swartz said. “Campbell Memorial was a very physical team. They made us earn everything tonight.”
Mogadore will be playing for its fourth district title since 2012, but their first in Division III.
Under Swartz’s direction, they won in 2012 and 2015 and were runners-up in 2016.