By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
When the Cardinal Huskies came to Orwell on Friday night to battle the Grand Valley Mustangs, the Huskies rolled the Mustangs, 87-35.
Playing the entire fourth quarter with reserves from the first game, the Huskies capped the night with a 10-of-14 effort from the floor that led to 25 points and the final exclamation point of a contest that never really was a contest.
“Games like this can be tough for a team,” Cardinal coach John Cummins said. “We try to teach our kids to play at a fast pace all the time. We never want to show a team or its coaches up in any way by running up the score, but at the same time, we do want kids to play to their full ability. I have the utmost respect for Coach (Luke) Strohm and his program at Grand Valley. They play hard and play with a lot of class.”
The fast pace Cummins referred to was the main cog for his pressing defense. It got the Mustangs on their heels quickly. When Jake Vormelker drove to the hoop for the first Mustang points with three minutes left in the first period, Cardinal had already tallied 15 and forced nine turnovers.
Vormelker (15 points) hit the second of two free throws to make it 15-3, and the Huskies (5-0, 1-0 in Chagrin Valley Conference) tallied the next 10 points before Vormelker hit another layup.
The Huskies closed the game on a 10-0 run.
“They pretty much have five guys who can score 20 points on you on any given night,” GV coach Luke Strohm said. “We knew it would be tough tonight. They are athletic, they are fast, they do well with their press, and they can shoot the lights out in a hurry. That’s a tough combination to beat.
“I felt all we could do to keep close was to control the ball as much as we could, and we didn’t do such a good job of it. We had worked on handling their pressure, and after that first period, we did much better.”
Balance was the key for the Huskies. Twelve of their 13 players scored. With leading scorer Jason Farmwald being a non-factor with just three points, Jake DiBlasio put home 13 while grabbing nine rebounds and blocking six shots. Jacob Bosak added 12, Alex Hill tallied nine, and the bench bunch put the final nail in the coffin with that superb showing in the fourth period. Of the 10 hoops they converted, seven were assisted, and that mostly came against the Mustang starters.
Grand Valley (1-4, 1-1 in Northeastern Athletic Conference) struggled its way to an 11-of-49 effort from the floor.
Gabe Kovats added seven points for the Mustangs.
“It simply was a matter of their experience at the varsity level and a lack of execution on our part,” Strohm said. “The effort was there, but you have to be able to react to things, and we were way behind with that.”
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.