Potters edge Oak Glen late

EAST LIVERPOOL – Two big defensive plays by Zack English in the final two minutes followed each time by baskets by Kade Reynolds enabled the East Liverpool Potters to rally for a 55-51 win over the Oak Glen Golden Bears Friday at Potter Fieldhouse.

With East Liverpool trailing 48-45, English came up with a steal at the 1:38 mark. Reynolds quickly hit a three-point to knot the score. With Golden Bears playing for the last shot, the quick-handed English forced Oak Glen to lose the ball out of bounds with 45 seconds remaining.

Coming out of a timeout, Reynolds knifed his way into the lane for the go-ahead layup with 23 seconds showing on the clock. Hayden Cunningham, Reynolds and Owen Crawford combined for five foul shots in the final 19 seconds to offset a Bub Haddox trey from the top of key and secure the Potter victory.

“We picked up our defensive intensity down the stretch,” said East Liverpool head coach Nate Conley. “Zack English made two big plays on defense and Kade came through on offense. We also made some foul shots.”

“We wanted to hold the ball for the final shot,” said Oak Glen head coach Dave Smith. “They increased their pressure and we turned the ball over. All in all, it was a great game. East Liverpool is very well-coached.”

Reynolds and Cunningham were in double figures with 19 and 16 points respectively. Crawford was the top Potter boardman with seven grabs, followed by Cunningham with four. D.J. Austin handed out six assists and converted a three-point play with 1:50 to play that pulled the Potters to within three, 48-45.

Oak Glen was paced by Haddox with 13 points. The hard-playing Haddox also grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists. Tyler Click collected 12 points. Brennan Smith netted 10 points and led all rebounders with 15 caroms.

Oak Glen led 16-10 at the end of the first quarter on the strength of a 10-0 run to close out the quarter. Smith’s tip, which bounced and bounced before dropping in at the buzzer, closed out the first session. Click netted seven for the Golden Bears during the first quarter.

Finding themselves down 19-10 early in the second quarter, the Potters began attacking the basket with a renewed vigor, eventually taking a 22-21 lead following a three-pointer by Isaac Davidson and a twisting drive by Reynolds. Oak Glen took the lead back at 23-22 on a David McGraw layup with 1:37 showing on the second quarter clock.

“To be honest, we played very poor defense in the first half. That may have been the worst defense we played the entire year,” said Conley. “Give Oak Glen credit. They controlled the tempo. Oak Glen played a great game.”

Two baskets by Cunningham and one by Reynolds gave East Liverpool a 28-23 lead with 5:20 remaining in the third quarter. Oak Glen regained the lead at 31-30 on a lob to Smith. Aaron Long put the Potters up 33-31 on a dazzling power move. A Haddox runner just before the buzzer evened the score at 33-all heading into the final quarter.

“I was very pleased with how we played,” said the Oak Glen coach. “I hope that getting back into the daily routine of school will help us. We had the lead and needed to finish things off. We came close. We have lost three games by two, a couple by five and now this one by four. We just need to close games out. I was proud of our guys’ effort.”

Oak Glen connected on 43 percent (20 of 46) shots from the floor. East Liverpool shot 53 percent (21 of 40) from the floor.