By VINCE PELUSO — firstname.lastname@example.org
For the Star Beacon
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
Warrensville Heights coach Brian Swift knew how dangerous the Edgewood Warriors could be in a halfcourt game, which is where the Warriors thrived in going 15-7 in the regular season leading to a fifth seed and bye into the Division II sectional championship game at Lakeside on Wednesday.
So, Swift wanted to see his sixth-seeded Tigers speed the game up and the plan paid huge dividends as Warrensville took home a sectional title in defeating Edgewood, 84-49.
“Our game plan was to speed the game up,” he said. “We scouted them pretty well, I think. They like to play at a slower pace than we do, just run their sets and execute their offense. So we just wanted to speed them up and just play our game. They’re not used to playing at that speed and they were out of rhythm.
“But they played hard. Kudos to Edgewood. Those guys play hard and kept fighting, they didn’t give up but we played pretty well tonight.”
While the pace of play factored into the decision, it didn’t hurt that Warrensville’s Montell Goodwin seemingly couldn’t miss. Goodwin dropped a game-high 32 points.
After missing his first three attempts, Goodwin proceeded to hit 13 of his next 14 shots including nailing six 3-pointers.
“I thought defensively we didn’t do a bad job,” Edgewood coach John Bowler said. “They made some really nice hard shots. (Goodwin) is pretty much their whole game from the outside, so I thought if we packed in then we have a better chance defensively and I thought defensively, we did.
“They just got so many points on our turnovers in the press and in transition.”
Early on, Edgewood was able to match Warrensville and crack the press.
A Dylan McCaleb 3 tied the game at 7 then a Connor McLuaghlin bucket gave Edgewood a two-point lead.
But, the Tigers closed the quarter on a 15-3 run, forcing four Warrior turnovers in the final 40 seconds of the period.
McCaleb kept Edgewood within striking distance with three triples in the second quarter, the final of which made cut the deficit to 32-23 with 3:25 remaining in the half.
Warrensville again closed the period strong, going on a 14-3 run to carry a 46-26 lead into the half.
“I thought if we shot our 3s and the press didn’t bother us too much, we’d be OK,” Bowler said. “But, the press took its toll on us. We’re not real deep, we only go seven deep on this big court and the pressure of the tournament game, I think the pressure beat us down a little bit.”
Goodwin closed that second-quarter run with one of his six 3s.
“He’s been our guy all season,” Swift said of Goodwin. “He’s a pretty good shooter, he controls the game for us. He sets his feet, every time he shoots the ball I think it’s got a shot of going in and it went in a lot tonight. It was a great thing.”
The Warriors and Tigers exchanged buckets for most of the third, but Warrensville opened the fourth period on a 19-5 run that ended any comeback hopes for Bowler’s group.
“They play a real nice man to man defense,” Bowler said. “They’re real fast, real athletic and that’s hard for us to overcome because we’re not quite as athletic as they are. We kept battling the whole game and I was real proud of the kids.”
Despite ending the season with a loss in its first tournament game, Bowler was proud of what his team accomplished this season in going 15-8, the school’s best season since it went 16-5 in 2004-05.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “Fifteen wins; Edgewood hasn’t done that in a few years. This is my second year here, so with 15, I don’t what the expectations will be next year, but I’m hoping to improve that next year and keep the momentum going.”
Edgewood was led in scoring by McCaleb’s 12 followed by 10 each from Andrew Konczal and Matt Fitchet.
Wednesday night marked the end of the careers of McCaleb, Konczal and Louie Wisnyai (9 points), three seniors Bowler gave a large amount of credit to for this year’s success.
“They’re real good seniors, I couldn’t ask for any better seniors,” Bowler said. “They play hard, they show up every night. Dylan McCaleb played his heart out, he’s going to have surgery on his shoulder in two weeks because he had a bad shoulder from football and he played the whole season on it and it bothered him, I know it did. Andrew Konczal, he’s our MVP with Connor McLaughlin, they play so hard.
“Wisnyai is my spark plug running playing defense. The three seniors, I’m very proud of. I’ll miss them.”