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Champion gets 1st win, beats Mineral Ridge

Champion sophomore Marky Nolan is off to a strong start to his varsity career. After scoring 21 points in the Golden Flashes’ first game last Friday against Niles, he dropped a game-high 27 points in a 60-50 victory over Mineral Ridge on Tuesday night.

“It’s early,” Nolan said. “I think we can get a lot more wins from here. It’s only going up from here. I didn’t play varsity last year. This was only my second game. We played good defense. Champion got some big buckets. But, we held it together in the end. We’re the underdogs this year. No one thinks we’re going to win games like this.”

It looked like the Flashes (1-1) would cruise through the game after taking a 20-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. However, the Rams battled back in the second.

Landon Bingham (12 points) had a block, a rebound and a bucket. Kaden Shaffer stole the ball and Bingham nailed a 3-pointer from the corner. Then, Jackson Geddes made one from downtown and completed an and-one.

Champion led 29-22 at halftime, but Blake Basista scored underneath, and senior Julian Rozzi (team-high 13 points) took it to the hoop and the Rams cut the deficit to five points midway through the third.

“We had way too many turnovers in the first quarter,” Mineral Ridge coach Eric Harper said. “We had to take care of the ball. That was a focus coming in, and we didn’t do it. If we don’t dig ourselves that hole, maybe it’s a different story. We’re starting five sophomores. We’re looking to improve during games. I thought I saw improvement from the first half to the second half. We want to continue to grow every day.”

Jake Andreatta (15 points) had a big-time rejection for the Flashes in the paint. Christian Williams absorbed a hard fall and got up to nail two free-throws. Nolan scored in transition before drilling back-to-back shots from deep, and Champion took a 47-36 lead into the fourth quarter.

Chase Moore (11 points) was working down low for the Rams (0-1). Rozzi made one from behind the arc, but Andreatta had a steal and a layup to help Champion pull away in the closing minutes.

“What a battle,” Champion coach Dan Denman said. “Mineral Ridge never gave up. They fought. They made us earn it all the way to the end. They’re going to have a great year. We came out and pressed pretty hard in the first quarter. I think we kind of surprised them a little bit there. As soon as we got a little tired, Mineral Ridge got right back in it.”

Denman was happy the Flashes had Nolan on their side.

“Marky Nolan is a phenomenal player,” Denman said. “He’s just a sophomore. We’re very excited to see what he can keep doing moving forward.”

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