Big Red tops Brooke in 4th

STEUBENVILLE – As veteran Brooke coach Dave Reitter correctly stated, those attending Friday’s game between his Bruins and Big Red definitely “got their money’s worth.”

The Big Red, thanks to a fourth quarter free throw clinic along with Adam Sterling’s break-away slam, earned an exciting and hard-fought 70-64 victory before a large crowd at The Crimson Center.

Friday’s final frame was, simply put, an instant classic. There were seven lead changes (the Bruins led 47-46 after three) and four ties. Brooke was up 59-57 before the hosts ran off eight straight (four coming from the charity stripe) to take the lead for good.

Reitter’s cagers pulled to within three (67-64) on a Russell Schwertfeger hoop. Chris Smith knocked down a freebie then Sterling brought the home crowd to its feet with his one-hand jam, which came after a steal on the defensive end.

“That’s a big win for us,” Big Red’s Mike Haney said. “Sterling gave us an outstanding effort. He had some big rebounds (the senior finished with 14) and went four for four from the line down the stretch. His steal was huge. He managed to stay inbounds, went up and put it away.”

Big Red, now 7-2, registered 11 consecutive points from late in the third period to early in the fourth and grabbed a 48-47 lead. C. Smith scored off his own miss to cap the run. The Bruins, who stand at 3-5, later scored six straight and were up 55-50. Schwertfeger’s triple along with a Nathan Green bucket from the paint powered the spurt.

Haney’s crew tied it at 55 on two Sterling freebies. Ethan Sole scored for Brooke before Lucas Herrington canned a pair from the line. Schwertfeger put the Bruins ahead for the final time with two more free throws.

Brandon Herring-Hill knotted the score at 59 by swishing two from the stripe. Sterling followed with a baseline jumper then went two for two from the line. C. Smith’s putback made it 65-59 and ended the game-winning spurt.

Big Red actually struggled from the stripe until the game was on the line. The winners were 13 for 26 before making 12 of their last 13.

“I hope that means we’re tough under pressure,” Haney commented about his team’s free throw shooting performance. “Really, I think they might concentrate a little bit more when the game is on the line.

“Our seniors really came up big for us tonight. We talk to the guys all the time about how this is their team. They did a great job of stepping up in a big game. Brooke got up and down the court and played a great game. (Aquil) Dameron and (Thomas) Cole both played extremely well. They like to get up and down the court and press just like us. We just kept fighting.”

Big Red held a 17-16 lead after the opening period but the Bruins held a 36-31 advantage at the intermission. Dameron scored 12 first half points (he was a perfect six for six from the field) to pace Reitter’s crew. Cole and Schwertfeger had seven each.

Brooke extended its margin to 10 (47-37) midway through the third when Cole scored off a steal.

“The game was very physical and both teams played as hard as they could,” Reitter noted. “People who came tonight got their money’s worth. I think down the stretch we missed some foul shots that could have helped us and we missed some early in the game that could have given us a bigger lead.

“Big Red made their shots down the stretch and executed when it counted. Our kids played hard. This ball game goes in the L column and we have to get ready for next week.”

Brooke attempted eight free throws in the opening half but made just three. In the third period, the Bruins went one for three. They did a little better in the fourth, making six of nine.

Sterling took game-scoring honors with 20. Herring-Hill added 19 and C. Smith 16. Sterling finished with four steals to pace the winners while Herrington dished out five assists.

Schwertfeger led the Bruins with 18 points and five assists. Cole, just a sophomore, recorded a double-double, 17 points and 17 boards. Dameron, who was plagued with second half foul troubles, added 12. Green, Brooke’s other sophomore force inside, added eight.

The Bruins finished with 26 field goals compared to 20 for the Red.

“People see a lot of seniors on our roster but we are actually young,” Reitter pointed out. “We have two guys who played a lot of varsity ball last season. Thomas (Cole) is doing his job inside and Nathan (Green) needs to get a little more physical but he is improving.

“Actually, all of our kids are getting better. We got a great game out of Aquil (Dameron) but then got into foul trouble.

“When a game is physical like this one, everyone is going to have some foul trouble.”

Both teams will hit the road Tuesday, Big traveling to Buckeye Local and Brooke visiting John Marshall.