The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 28, 2013

Blue Streaks getting there

Madison uses solid first, third quarters to knock off Geneva

For the Star Beacon

MADISON TOWNSHIP — Both the Geneva and Madison boys basketball coaches would like to see their teams play solid basketball for four full quarters.

Friday, the Blue Streaks came a lot closer — and came away with a 67-47 home win as a result.

Madison (2-4, 2-3 in the Premier Athletic Conference) was especially strong in the first and third periods. A 10-0 run helped it to an 18-6 advantage at the close of the first frame, and then it pushed to 20-6 on a follow by John Dahlhausen (21 points, 10 rebounds, 6 steals, 2 blocked shots).

The Eagles surged back to get as close as three points before going to the locker room trailing 29-25. However, the Blue Streaks dominated the third quarter by a 24-10 count, including the final 8 points, to make it 53-35. After a 9-0 spurt, they had a 67-41 lead before Geneva (0-8, 0-6) ran off the final 6 points.

Neither coach was happy with his team’s turnovers, although the Eagles gave it away 32 times to Madison’s 20. The Streaks stole the ball 21 times, with Jordan McClure (10 points) matching Dahlhausen’s 6 thefts and Vince Primer getting 4.

“We’ve had a problem putting together a good 32 minutes,” Madison coach Pat Moran said. “And that kind of showed today. We had to kind of kick ’em in the pants a little bit to get ’em going.

“It was good. Out of our 6 games, we’ve had the lead at halftime in 5 of ‘em. It’s good that we were able to extend that lead a little bit after giving it back to ‘em. Geneva scrapped, and they played hard.”

The Eagles followed a first period in which they hit just 2 of 19 shots by nailing 7 of their next 9 attempts. However, they couldn’t maintain anything close to that rate, and finished at 29.5 percent (18-of-61).

“We have three things that hurt us every game — tempo, turnovers and offensive rebounds given up,” Geneva coach Matt Vespa said. “We’ve done a good job taking care of one of those, and then the other two come to hurt us. And then we work on that (in practice), and the other two come and get us.

“Tonight it was turnovers and offensive rebounds; I thought we did a good job controlling the tempo, but the other two really hurt.”

Jack Holl had 11 points, 16 rebounds and 6 blocks off the bench for Madison, while teammate Aaron Petruccelli contributed 12 points and 6 assists.

“(Holl) is caveman-like when he has the ball in his hands,” Moran said. “I joke it’s almost like watching Shaq when he goes to the free throw line (where he hit 3 of 9 shots in the contest).

“Jack is a hard-working kid; that’s what’s encouraging about him is you know he’ll work to get better. He has a bright future ahead of him in football, but he can also have a very productive high school basketball career if he continues to work at it.”

“We knew coming in (as we do) every game (that) we’re going trio be undersized,” Vespa said. “We’ve got to find a way to kind of battle through that. (Holl) blocked some shots, but we were kind of lobbing him up softballs. We’ve got to work on going around people, and it’s not something we really did a great job of tonight.”

Brandon Kovach led Geneva with 13 points including 3 of his team’s 7 3-pointers. Steve Jewell added 10 points. Ron Varckette added 12 boards and Zac Sweat 8 caroms. Sweat and Seth Calhoun each blocked a pair of shots for the Eagles.

However, Sweat, who has had some success in scoring points this season, was held to 5.

“Zac’s put together some good games lately,” Vespa said. “He’s starting to get a little bit of attention from other teams; they know who he is now. That’s a whole different level. You’ve got to learn how to handle that. That’s something that, without a doubt, he’ll be able to do.”

“We’re definitely in the Christmas mood,” Moran said. “We’ve (struggled) the last 3 games with turnovers. We’ve just got to learn to take care of the basketball and value it more. Once we do that, we get more shots. We’re scoring a lot of points this year, but we’d be scoring a lot more if we weren’t leading the other team in assists.

“We force (turnovers), but it’s like we give them right back to ‘em. We have to learn to convert those and turn those into our advantage, because if we’re just trading turnovers, it’s a sloppy game for both teams.”

Meanwhile, Vespa hopes to see more of what he saw in the second period on Friday.

“(The second quarter) is kind of in a snapshot what we want,” he said. “It’s happening in spurts — longer and longer spurts, but (we need to), do it for a whole game.  I thought we did a good job of pushing the pace when it was there, and running our offensive plays when it wasn’t. We stepped up; we knocked down the shots.”

Madison went to the foul line 19 more times (25-6) than Geneva, hitting 9 more (13-4).  

Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.