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Campbell falls at LaBrae

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Campbell junior Josue Rodriguez puts a shot up during the first half of Tuesday’s game against LaBrae. Rodriguez scored 16 points in the loss.

LEAVITTSBURG — With major league implications on the line, LaBrae and Campbell went toe-to-toe on Tuesday. A back-and-forth battle, neither team was able to establish any real separation on the scoreboard.

LaBrae started out strong in the second half, building up some momentum which it rode to a 55-51 victory over the Red Devils to pull off the season sweep.

While excited for the victory after the game, Vikings coach Chad Kiser was already looking ahead. As important as this win was, the job isn’t finished yet.

“It doesn’t mean anything if we don’t finish the next two games,” Kiser said. “That’s what we just talked about. It was huge for putting us in control of our own destiny, we don’t have to worry about anybody else doing anything. All we have to do is take care of business on Friday and then again on Saturday. Hopefully we come with that same intensity that we did tonight. I thought we had focus for the most part, we have a couple of lulls that cost us. But like I said, this doesn’t mean anything unless we finish the next two.”

Derek Wilson paced LaBrae with 14 points with Jay McGarry adding 10. The Vikings spread the ball around on Tuesday, with each of the starting lineup scoring at least eight points. Austin Rowe had eight and both David Blackmon and Jaxson Lancaster put up nine.

“We’ve got three really good scorers in (McGarry), (Rowe) and (Wilson) so it’s hard to take away all three of them,” Kiser said. “They were really pressuring Jay with the ball and really face guarding Austin, so he didn’t get any open looks, and that created some driving lanes for Derek and he did a nice job of driving, and with his pull-up jump shot. He’s a really good pull-up jump shooter, so to his credit, I ran him pretty hard in the first half because of his defense. Not only did he pick up his defense, but he didn’t let (his offensive side of the ball slack either).”

Leading on the scoresheet for Campbell was senior Aziyah Flores, who scored a game-high 17 points. Josue Rodriguez tacked on 16.

The Red Devils fell to 13-5 on the season with a 10-2 record in the MVAC Gray Tier, with both losses coming at the hands of LaBrae.

Campbell looks to reconfigure Friday with a tilt against Liberty. Look for the overall team aggression to increase.

“I just thought we were too passive,” Red Devils coach Nick Canterino said. “We tried playing off a couple guys, they did some good things, mixing up the action with those guys, but I thought we were just a little too passive instead of being our usual aggressive selves out of that. We let them get a little bit too downhill and it kind of hurt us in the second half.”

The Vikings (15-2, 11-1) conclude their league schedule with a pair of road games against Crestview and Garfield on Friday and Saturday. Wins in both will lock up the league title outright.

“It’s effort and focus,” Kiser said the key over the next two games is. “The loss to Newton Falls, that’s all it was. I thought we came out and let them outwork us, so we’ve just got to come out and play our game and let things take care of themselves. It’s just not coming out and going through the motions over the next two games.”

byauger@tribtoday.com

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