By VINCE PELUSO — firstname.lastname@example.org
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
The Edgewood Warriors were just two days removed from a game in which they shot just 23 percent from the field in a 47-35 loss at Newton Falls.
The Warriors wasted little time getting erasing that memory from their minds as they eclipsed the 35-point mark midway through the second period en route to a 84-57 home win over Geneva.
While a weekend in which the Edgewood offense looked off kilter — the Warriors weren’t overly efficient offensively in a win over Conneaut on Friday, either — coach John Bowler believed a performance like Tuesday’s was coming.
“The other day I said to the players, if we can all get on the same page and we all shoot the way I know we can shoot, I pity the team we’re going to play,” Bowler said. “I didn’t know whether it was going to be Geneva or anybody else and I give a lot of respect to Geneva, but we just came out and shot the ball real well and you see the results.”
The results were the Warriors shooting 46.2 percent from the field (30 of 65) as well as an astounding 52 percent from 3-point range (13-25).
The aerial assault began in the first quarter with senior Andrew Konczal and junior point guard Connor McLaughlin.
After McLaughlin missed his first shot of the game the duo went on to hit five-consecutive 3’s to give Edgewood an early 15-8 lead.
The early jumpers were particularly important to Konczal (the area’s leading rebounder at 10.6 per game), who has struggled to find his shot in the early part of the season.
“It felt great to finally get my first shot in that I took,” Konczal said. “A few guys stepped up and having been scoring more than I have and them scoring means there are other roles that need to be filled and I’m just filling the role that needs to be done for us to win.”
Konczal filled a scoring role early, scoring eight first-quarter points, then went into the role of facilitator as he collected seven boards and dished out five assists to go with his 15 points.
“Andrew’s been struggling a little bit offensively, so it was nice to see him hit a couple 3’s then go to the hoop and make a few baskets,” Bowler said.
While Konczal did the dirty work, McLaughlin continued his mastery of the Edgewood offense, drilling nine-consecutive shots at one point as the Warriors amassed 51 first-half points to take a 51-22 lead at the half.
“My gosh,” acting Geneva coach Mike Hassett said of Edgewood’s shooting. “We knew they were going to shoot 3s, but my gosh, I was asking John, ‘what’d you guys eat before the game?’ Because they shot the lights out. You gotta give them credit.”
McLaughlin and Konczal weren’t the only Warriors with a hot hand.
Dylan McCaleb racked up a game-high seven 3-pointers as he tallied to 23 total points to contribute in the win.
“They were just squaring up and shooting and they have no range — they can go three feet beyond the arc and still shoot it,” Bowler said of McCaleb and McLaughlin, who combined for 47 points. “We practice it (shooting 3’s) every night, we have a lot of 3-point shooting drills so we practice it and it paid off tonight.”
With the offensive struggles of the Eagles (0-12), Hassett said the early deficit put them in a hole they had little chance of getting out of.
“What it is because of our record it’s the snowball effect,” Hassett said. “When we get down I try to use timeouts to keep them in it. When you’re down by 30 it’s kind of hard to come back from that.
“You’ve got to give Edgewood credit, you run into a team like that you’re not going to win.”
Konczal believes the Warriors (9-4) are a dangerous team offensively when they have confidence in their shot.
“When we have our confidence up and we’re all shooting good and we’re happy and passing the ball we feel we’re not going to miss no matter where we are,” he said.
The win gives Edgewood nine on the season, one more than it had last season.
For Bowler, in his second year with the Warriors, the difference between this year and last year is his players being more comfortable with his system.
“I think it’s a year of me being here and a year and a half of working my offense and playing the way I want them to play,” he said. “The kids are responding. It was kind of hard last year being the first year. They weren’t sure what I expected and they were still doing a little bit of what they old coach did and what I did. This year, it looks like the kids are responding and doing everything I ask them to do.”
Leading the way for the Eagles in the loss was Vern Thompson with 13 points.