By ERIC FORTUNE
For the Star Beacon
A lot of times, records just need to be thrown out the window.
There are certain traits and aspects about a basketball squad that can just cause you fits.
Take for example, a 2-8 Conneaut Spartan squad that has played just about as brutal of a schedule one can ask for, but Friday night they had the Brookfield Warriors on the ropes for nearly three quarters before falling, 64-41.
“The key point of the game was the end of the third quarter,” Conneaut coach Tim Tallbacka said. “We were down 34-30 and the game was at our pace. It was a low-scoring game. We had a couple of bad possessions. They got run outs and that became the whole game.
“We got a stop and then missed a shot. They hit a 3. You’re down 13 to thesen guys on their home floor... you’re going to have a tough time coming back.”
Rewind back to the opening half, where it felt like the Warriors (10-1) had the game in hand if not exactly in full command thanks in large part to the Spartans’ physical play and man-to-man defense.
“I think it was good for us,” Brookfield coach Bill Kovach said. “They played us man the whole game, which we haven’t seen a lot of — especially for a whole game. It was a good experience for us because we’re going to see that in the future.”
“We talked about that. We tried to prepare for that. We knew they were a physical team, that had just come off a win. They play hard, (Tim) Tallbacka always has them playing hard.”
The Spartans (2-8) seemingly had the answers every time Brookfield seemed poised to break the game open thanks in large part to some big 3s from Christian Williams and Dylan Campbell , who combined for seven and led the Spartans with 16 and nine points, respectively.
It helped the Spartans come back and recover from a 14-point deficit at 26-12 midway through the second quarter.
Campbell’s first 3 started a run that crossed over into the third quarter where the Spartans scored on their next four possessions en route to a 10-0 run and within striking distance at 26-22.
“We don’t want to be a slow team, but we think that by playing halfcourt, man-to-man defense and keeping the pace where we want it — we can dictate the flow of the game,” Tallbacka said. “You don’t want to run with these guys.”
After exchanging buckets, the margin stayed at four, 34-30, but then a couple of bad possessions by Conneaut and some stellar defense from Ryan Mosora, who sat out much of the first half with two fouls, as his three-straight buckets extended out the Warriors lead to 40-31 heading into the final quarter.
Jeremy Quinland and Mosora led the Warriors with 20 and 13 points, respectively — recalling much of what they did as a tandem on the football field last fall.
“We had a hard time getting into an offensive flow,” Kovach said. “Conneaut plays very physical. It’s hard to adjust to that. We played physical, too, with them. Luckily, in the end, I think they got a little tired.
“Ryan Mosora did a great job on defense on their point guard, especially at the end of the third quarter. He had a few steals and it got us going.”
There was no comeback in the cards in the final quarter as the Warriors finally were able to run extending their lead to as much as 18 at one point, 51-33 halfway through the quarter.
“That’s a pretty good basketball team,” Tallbacka said. “They beat LaBrae last week. At the same time, we feel we can be closer to them. We beat them here last year. We feel like we just need to make a few more adjustments and make some more baskets. We’re in a mode where we make more 3s than 2s.
“Every game we’ve lost has been to a team well above .500. Even the team we beat Wednesday (Horizon Science Academy) is 10-2 right now. It’s been a brutal schedule.”
Fortune is a freelance writer from McDonald.