CONNEAUT — The Brookfield Warriors were able to score effectively in the paint to defeat the Conneaut Spartans 72-64 Saturday in boys basketball action.
Brookfield (8-5) was led by junior guard Matteo Fortuna with 28 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field, and senior center Isaiah Jones, who tallied 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Conneaut (4-8) was led in scoring by junior guard Chance Loomis with 22 points.
He shot 9-for-16 from the floor and added seven rebounds and five assists.
Senior guard Zack Rice
contributed 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting, and
senior forward Larry Hamm scored 13
“They had some size and two guards who can really play,” Spartans coach Tim Tallbacka said. “I thought we could have been a little better defensively at times and in the second quarter our defense let us down some, but that’s a quality basketball team.”
Both teams shot over 50% for the game as Conneaut converted 24 of 46 (52.17%) attempts, including 6-for-15 on 3-pointers.
The Warriors shot 27-for-51 (52.94%) and made 2 of 11 from beyond the 3-point line.
Conneaut made 10 of 18 (55.55%) free-throw attempts, while Brookfield shot 16-for-28 (57.14%) from the charity stripe.
Brookfield held an 11-9
advantage after the first
quarter and entered the locker room with a 30-27 halftime lead.
The Spartans fought back to tie the game at 30-30 when Rice made a free throw with 6:32 left in the third quarter and Conneaut seemed to gain some momentum after having been behind since late in the first quarter.
Jones, who is listed at 6-foot-5 inches and has excellent leaping ability, had three dunks in the second half, including one during a critical stretch in the third quarter that increased the Warriors’ lead to 37-30 with 4:55 remaining.
That play forced Conneaut (4-8) to call a timeout.
Jones made a move in the paint later in the quarter and threw down a contested dunk in traffic that gave Brookfield its biggest lead of the game at 46-32.
The Spartans responded
with a 10-2 run, though, which included three 3-pointers to cut the deficit down to 48-43.
But Fortuna closed the third quarter by drawing a foul and hitting the shot at the buzzer. He converted the free throw to give Brookfield a 55-45 lead.
The Spartans kept things close, but foul trouble forced Conneaut to play smaller after forward Nathan Koston picked up his fifth foul with 4:31 left in the game.
Conneaut cut the deficit to six points after Rice hit a three-pointer to make it 68-62 with 27 seconds remaining.
The Spartans got another basket to get within four points when Hamm made a shot with 21 seconds left to make it 68-64.
Brookfield converted 2 of 4 free throws after the Spartans were forced to foul and Jones finished the game with an open-court dunk after a Conneaut turnover.
Tallbacka was pleased his team played a physical game and made a lot of shots.
“I thought there were other parts of the game we could have done better,” he said. “There were five times we missed rebounds off of missed free throws and that was a really big difference.
“I’m proud of our guys for battling, it’s kind of good to say we can play not our best game and still have a shot to beat a pretty good team.”
Brookfield coach Shawn Hammond was proud of his team for the win after fighting through some injuries and fatigue after playing Friday night
“They made a lot of threes. I don’t know what it is, but I feel like teams shoot the ball well against us and we let [Loomis and Rice] get loose a few times,” Hammond said.
He said Jones helped spark the team with his presence in the paint including his dunks and Fortuna was able to convert shots in the lane and get fouled.
“[Fortuna] is good around the basket, and he gets a lot of his own putbacks and gets fouled and does a good job of being in there under control and doesn’t pick up a charge,” Hammond said. “It’s a little different for people seeing a lefty come through there.”
Conneaut visits Horizon Science Academy on Wednesday, while Brookfield hosts Garrettsville Garfield on Tuesday.
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