Firebirds at Trent Arena on Saturday, 58-52, to bring to a conclusion
the first day of the sixth annual Flyin to the Hoop basketball
tournament. This was a very close game until late in the third quarter.
This was a very close game until late in the third quarter.
At the end of the first period it was 13-11 in favor of the Comets. At halftime it was still just 28-27, but with 2:38 left in the third quarter Blake Barnes found Kateeb Rivers for an acrobatic lob/slam. Seconds later Heath Jones drove the lane only to dish up another tasty alley-oop to Rivers.
Fairmont (5-10, 2-5 GWOC-Central) inbounded the ball only to see Rivers make a steal, drive the length of the court for yet another slam, and get fouled in the process. In making the shot, Rivers had scored 7 points in 39 seconds to extend the Comet’s lead to double figures.
“They shot the ball well and their two post guys really hit the boards hard against us,” Fairmont head coach Hank Bias said. “Their crashing of the boards and our inability to rebound offensively was the difference in the game.
“They had 6 or 8 possessions in a row there where we weren’t even a consideration. Rivers kind of went on his own little island by himself. For just that one moment he seemed to own the game. It was all about him. He was everywhere.”
Interviewing Rivers was a pleasure.
“I had sprained my ankle, but I really wanted to play,” the senior forward said. “We had such a tough loss last night (35 in a league game against Thomas Worthington). The first time we played them they only beat us by 3. So, it was really hard to take. Tonight the coach said, ‘Find a way to win it.’ We came in focused and we played as a team.
“In our league games they play a different style,” the well-spoken senior continued. “The other teams tend to play a lot of zone and that forces us to kick and drive and penetrate. So, we actually had a lot of fun tonight playing against a man-to-man as much as anything. Against a man-to-man we’re pretty much unstoppable, yes sir.”
The fourth quarter became a parade to the foul line—a place where Central Crossing made 16 out of their 22 opportunities on this night.
The final score: Comets 58, Firebirds 52.
ShaJuan Grace celebrated a double-double with 15 points, 14 rebounds, and an assist for Central Crossing. Rivers had 15 points, 6 rebounds, and two blocks. Max McDonald and Jones each added 8 points for the Comets.
Drew Sawyer was the star of the game for the home team with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Chris Albrecht (2 assists, 2 rebounds) joined him in double figures with 17 points of his own. Mark Shadowens (5 rebounds, 2 assists) and Kevin Sharick each scored 5 points.
Central Crossing out rebounded the host team 37-31.
The Comets shot fifty-percent (7-for-14) from three-point land while the Firebirds were an astounding 0-for-10.
“It’s the same scenario we’ve been facing in recent games,” Fairmont head coach Hank Bias said in a brutal self-diagnostic after the game. “We’ve been very competitive for half of the game or so; but then we’ll have problems with defensive rebounding and turning the ball over. On top of that, we’ll have periods of time when we can’t score.
“We seem to always have this spell where we just don’t play well. I chalk it up to our not having very much experience on the floor. They came back from their loss (Thomas Worthington) with a vengeance. I thought they played some pretty smart basketball.”
The Comets, who play in the rugged OCC-Central, have been playing without their star guard Bryce Barnes who is out for the rest of the season with an ACL tear. Barnes–the holder of a 3.8 GPA–was first team all-OCC last year after averaging 20.9 points and 4.4 assists per game. He is getting D-I looks despite the injury, and will weigh his options after the AAU season.
Barnes was the Ohio Capital Conference’s offensive player of the year for 2006-07. His little brother, Blake (2 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, and a steal) is also on the team–and he’s getting significant floor time as a freshman.
His father Chris is the head coach.
“So far this year, we’ve lost five games in the last 45 seconds,” coach Barnes said. “We’re 8-7 but we could easily be 13-2. We have a bunch of young kids. We only lose two kids this year and just one of them is starter for us. Next year we could be pretty good.
“ShaJuan Grace had a real nice game on the low block. Kateem Rivers is a good player for us, too. At 17, he’s a very young senior. He has been getting a lot of interest from JUCOs. Schools like Kentucky Christian and Otterbein are all over him, too.”
Last year the Comets were 12-8 with seven sophomores in their rotation.
“If Bryce was a senior maybe we’d have him back already. The kid for the other team (Drew Sawyer) tonight has an ACL tear and he’s playing well even with a huge brace on. But there is no need to rush things because he is a junior.
“My son was playing in an open gym and there were several scouts in attendance. He was going in for a layup and he just snapped it. It was sad. Bryce had surgery on the first day of practice after he had such a great fall and a great summer.”
Central Crossing is a new school district near Grove City/Columbus and you are excused for not knowing where it is. Last year, was their first winning season. Here’s a rundown from the coach on what you might expect from them if you have them coming up on your schedule:
“We usually do a lot of dribble-driving and checking for the three, or four-out and one-in looking to get someone isolated,” Barnes said. “We try to post up either of our forwards, both of whom jump very well, and try to lob the ball to them for alley-oops. Next year we will be primarily one post because we’ll have five nice guards and the best players play here at Central Crossing.
“On defense we are primarily man-to-man, but in our league it is very rugged. We’re not very big in league play so we try to mix in some trapping zones (1-3-1, 2-3, and 3-2). Whatever it takes to win the game.”